Paul Ruffle at Starry Night
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Open Quotes I chose the name Starry Night because, although I started out as a graphic designer, I am now an astronomer and a visiting research fellow at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) at The University of Manchester. Also, the painting "The Starry Night" is by one of my favourite artists, Vincent van Gogh, and Don McLean wrote a great song about Vincent, which I even learned to play on the piano. As an astronomer, my research interests include evolved stars, the chemistry of molecular clouds, and the role of dust in the interstellar medium. My photo pages show some of the places I have visited to make observations with optical and radio telescopes. I have been an associate lecturer for the Open University and a support scientist for NRAO's Green Bank Telescope. As part of my commitment to public outreach, I give talks on astronomy throughout the country, and have also been interviewed on the radio. I am also a keen photographer. However, I have not given up being an artist and continue to design web sites and printed brochures. Close Quotes Paul Ruffle

Public Outreach

Currently I am giving the talks How I Wonder What You Are: The Birth, Life and Death of Stars and Matter Between the Stars: The Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium. I give these talks to astronomy societies, science cafés, schools and companies. I have also spoken on local radio, have podcasts available on iTunes and a set of videos on YouTube. Please contact me if you are interested in having me give one of these talks.

Dates and Venues

RSS Feed Listen to my broadcasts on The Birth, Life and Death of Stars via my podcasts or iTunes. You can also watch videos of me speaking on the same subject.

Planetary Nebulae Slide

Life at Owlers

View looking south towards Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale

Views from Owlers today looking south towards Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale and east along the Upper Calder Valley towards Sowerby.

View looking east along the Upper Calder Valley towards Sowerby


Open Quotes The Galaxy, you know, is not simply a flat ovoid of any sort; nor is the periphery a closed curve. Actually, it is a double spiral, with at least eighty percent of the inhabited planets on the Main Arm. Terminus is the extreme outer end of the spiral arm, and we are at the other - since, what is the opposite end of a spiral? Why, the center.Close Quotes Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov (1953)

Open Quotes The stars, like dust, encircle me
In the living mists of light;
And all of space I seem to see
In one vast burst of sight.Close Quotes
Isaac Asimov (1955)

Open Quotes (Black) is like the silence of the body after death, the close of life.Close Quotes
Wassily Kandinsky (1911)

My Book List

How the Mind Works

Currently I am reading:

How the Mind Works
by Steven Pinker

More >


happenstance CD Cover


Great new album from my mate Steve Tilston

The Starry Night by Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

and V838 Monocerotis

V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon)

Why Physics?

To me physics is all about figuring out how the Universe works. Ultimately its findings are deeply philosophical, and it is this that makes physics (and astronomy) so fascinating. Not that I expect an answer as to why we are here or the meaning of life. Such quests are based on the notion that we occupy a special place in the Universe, which we do not. However, the ability to perceive ourselves and the Universe around us, should unite and motivate us in the continuing quest for knowledge and understanding, rather than focus on the trivial things that divide humanity (age, race, nationality, religion, sexuality). That quest, to me at least, gives meaning and purpose to our short time in this vast Universe.


Open Quotes My birthday is listed in the papers as Aries but this is the sun sign which somebody with my birthday would have had when Ptolemy codified all that stuff. Because of the precessional shift of approximately one whole zodiacal sign over the AD era, my sun sign is in fact (if you can call it a fact) Pisces. If astrologers were doing something that had any connection with reality, this presumably ought to make a difference. Since they aren't, it doesn't. Scorpio could go retrograde up Uranus and it wouldn't make any difference.Close Quotes
Richard Dawkins (1995)

Design Work

I designed the new brochure for the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

JBCA Brochure

My web site gallery depicts the web sites that I have created since 2000.

Web Sites That I Maintain

Life at Owlers
Oliver Perks' Wartime Blog
The Xgear Project
Mytholmroyd Walkers' Action
Halifax Café Scientifique
Halifax Scientific Society

Open Quotes Thanks Wikipedia Close Quotes
Support Wikipedia

and more Quotes

Open Quotes Why do you write to me 'God should punish the English'? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.Close Quotes
Albert Einstein (1915)
More Einstein Thoughts.

Personal Biography

Atop the GBT in West Virginia

Atop NRAO's Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia

I started my career in the late sixties, working as a graphic artist in design studios and advertising agencies in London. In the mid-eighties I got involved with computers and the subsequent desk top publishing revolution. This led to working for a large corporation producing multilingual publications and multimedia. I have also run my own company, Geodesy, providing production services for print and the web (see my article on Multilingual Web Publishing in the Seybold Report).

Despite my creative abilities, I always had a strong interest in science, and physics and astronomy in particular. When I was a young boy my father took me to the London Planetarium and bought me a planisphere - a simple set of plastic disks that showed the positions of the stars at any time or place. In the intervening years I have lost the little device, but not my fascination with the stars.

In 1989 I started studying for a physics degree with the Open University, and finally obtained my BSc in 2002. Towards the end of my studies I became increasingly interested in astrophysics and at the same time discovered that studying for PhD as a mature student was not entirely 'pie in the sky'. In 2002 I was offered a PPARC funded PhD research studentship at the University of Manchester, which I completed in 2006. At the beginning of 2007 I took up the post of Support Scientist for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) at the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. Currently I am a visiting research fellow and SAGE-Spec research associate in the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) at The University of Manchester. Little did I realise where studying with the OU would lead me!

Interests and Activities

Horse riding in Montana

Horse riding in Montana

I am an Honorary Auditor for the Royal Astronomical Society, President of the Halifax Scientific Society and the local organiser for Halifax Café Scientifique. I am a founder member of Fusion - The Open University Physics and Astronomy Society and edited their Newsletter and Web site. I also served on the committee of Nexus - the student section of the Institute of Physics and designed their logo.

I am also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the Institute of Physics, a member of the International Astronomical Union and a member of the Royal Society Of Chemistry Astrophysical Chemistry Group. I am a friend of the Royal Academy, member of the National Trust and friend of Westonbirt Arboretum.

In the course of my two careers I have travelled extensively and visited the US, Mexico, Tobago, Chile, Eire, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Kenya, South Africa, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan.

I like to read science (fact and fiction), general fiction, philosophy, biography and art history (see my book list). Other activities include gardening, painting, photography, a little sailing, some horse riding and playing the guitar.

Copyright © 2006-2013 Paul Ruffle. All Rights Reserved.