Guildford Astronomical Society

Prof Iwan Williams

Prof Iwan WilliamsProf Iwan Williams

On completion of his PhD at Royal Holloway, he was appointed a Lecturer at Reading University in 1963,as a Reader at Queen Mary in 1971 and promoted to Professor in 1987. He was Dean for Research 1991-97 and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences 1999-2002. Since 2009, he has been Emeritus Professor.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in1946, was on the Council 1982-1985 and Vice-President in 1984-85. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1995 and was the President of the Society for Popular Astronomy 1991-93. He was elected a member of the International Astronomical Union in 1974, becoming President of Commission 22 1992-97 and President of Division III, Planetary Systems Sciences 2003-2006. He became a Founder Member of the European Astronomical in 1991.

He was a member of the SERC Solar System Committee 1982-85 and the SERC Space Telescope Advisory Group in 1986. 1986-87 he was Chairman of the RAS/SERC Committee on the UK Observations of Comet Halley (CHUKCC) and also a Member of the Steering Group of the International Halley Watch. He was a member of the British National Committee on Space Research 1986-89 and the Royal Society Interdisciplinary Committee on Space 1988-93. In 1994 he was on the ESA Time allocation Panel for ISO and in 1999 on the Hubble Space Telescope time allocation panel.

From 1990 to 2009 was Chair of Examiners for GCSE Astronomy. In 1998 he was Director of the Pre-Doctoral Summer School "Solar and Extra-Solar Planetary Systems" in Ballyvaughn, Ireland.

He has been Chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee for the following International Conferences, "Meteors and Their Parent Bodies", Smolinice, Slovak Republic 1993 "Meteors", Bratislava, Slovak Republic 1995, "Dust in the Solar System", Canterbury, UK 2000 "Astrophysical Tides: Effects in the Solar and other Planetary Systems", Nanjing, China 2002, IAU Joint Discussion Bejing China 2012 And a member of the Scientific Organizing Committee of the following international conferences "Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 93" Bergamo, Italy, 1993, "Minor Bodies in the Solar System" Alund, Finland, 1994, "Physics, Chemistry and Dynamics of Interplanetary Dust" Gainseville, USA 1995, "Near Earth Objects" Volcano, Italy, 1995, "Asteroids Meteors Comets 96" Paris, France, 1996, "Cometary nuclei in Space and Time" Nanjing, China, 1998, "Near Earth Objects" Torino, Italy 1999, "Asteroids Meteors Comets 99" Cornell, USA, 1999, "Asteroids Comets Meteors", Berlin, Germany, 2001, "Meteors 2004" London Ontario, Canada, "Asteroids Meteors Comets" Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 2004, "Near Earth Asteroids", Prague, Czech Republic, 2005, " Meteors 2007" Barcelona, Spain 2006, " Meteors " Breckenridge, USA, 2010.

He has been a regular observer at many telescopes, including the William Herschel Telescope, the Isaac Newton Telescope, the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope, the South African Astronomical Observatory 2m telescope, the Infrared Satellite Observatory (ISO), the Hubble Space Telescope, Gemini South and the VLT.

Asteroid 3634 is named IWAN in his honour.

After a few years working on problems regarding Stellar Evolution, Iwan worked on the formation of planetary systems and then became interested in the dynamical aspects of solar system evolution, producing for example the first models of meteor streams that contained a realistic number of meteoroids. A number of features of meteor streams were explained. In 1985 the opportunity of observing Halley's Comet could not be missed and this started a long series of Photometric observations of comets which evolved into a program to observe the nuclei of comets and determine their spin properties. The morphology of asteroids can be carried out by spectrography and this has been a topic investigated using the 4.2m telescope on La Palma. The value of spectrum was also evident for investigating the impact of S-L9 with Jupiter. The discovery of an object beyond Pluto led to the start of a program to discover and follow Kuiper belt objects, resulting in three new objects being discovered, 1993 SB, 1993 SC and 1994 KV8 very soon after the first discovery. The main thrust of research is now into the origin of meteor streams and meteorites and their relationship to comets and asteroids. In connection with this, Iwan is a Co-Investigator on the CONSERT experiment on the ESA Rosettta mission to study the interior of a comet and was also a Co-Investigator on the MARSIS experiment on Mars Express.

DateTalk at GAS meeting
6 Jun 2013Investigating the Properties of Asteroids and Differentiating between Dead Comets and Asteroids

See Iwan's presentation here [PPT: 3.8Mb, Members only].