Robert Owen Evans (born 1937 in Sydney, Australia) is a minister of the Uniting Church in Australia and an amateur astronomer who holds the all-time record for visual discoveries of supernovae (42). Sydney (ˈsɪdniː is the most populous city in Australia, with a Metropolitan area population of approximately 4 In Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform clergy functions such as teaching of beliefs The Uniting Church in Australia ( UCA) was formed on June 22 1977 when many congregations of the Methodist Church of Australasia, A supernova (plural supernovae or supernovas) is a stellar Explosion.
Evans graduated from the University of Sydney, majoring in philosophy and modern history. The University of Sydney (informally Sydney Uni or USyd) is the oldest university in Australia Coming from a religious family, Evans trained to become a Methodist minister and was ordained by the New South Wales Conference in 1967. Methodism is a movement within Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations He served as a circuit minister until his retirement in 1998. A circuit preacher is a Christian minister who in response to a shortage of ministers officiates at multiple churches in an area thus covering a "circuit"
Evans took up supernova hunting around 1955, but his first adequate instrument was a 10 inch (25 cm) Newtonian telescope he had assembled only about 1968. The Newtonian telescope is a type of Reflecting telescope invented by the British scientist Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727 using a parabolic primary mirror He made his first official supernova discovery in 1981 and found nine more before using larger telescopes. While living in Coonabarabran, New South Wales he used his own 16 inch (40 cm) telescope. Coonabarabran is a town in Warrumbungle Shire in northwestern New South Wales, Australia. From early 1995 to mid 1997 he had also limited access to the Siding Spring 40 inch Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory (he was allocated about 110 nights, half of which were suitable for observing), resulting in about 10,000 galaxy observations, another three visual supernovae discoveries, and an additional four supernovae spotted on photographs made at the observatory. Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, Australia, part of the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics (RSAA at the Australian National
In 1985 he received the Amateur Achievement Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for his observations of supernovae. The Amateur Achievement Award recognizes "significant contributions to Astronomy or amateur astronomy by those not employed in the field of astronomy in a professional The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP is a scientific and educational organization founded in San Francisco in 1889.
By 2001, he had made 33 visual discoveries and by the end of 2005, despite the increasing competition from automated telescopes, the total number had already increased to 40 visual supernova discoveries plus one comet. In 2005, Evans relied almost exclusively on his 31 cm Dobsonian. The Dobsonian telescope is a design that has become popular amongst amateur astronomers because it results in an extremely simple and rugged large-aperture instrument He reported 6,814 galaxy observations in a period of 107 hours and 30 minutes, spread out over 77 nights. During that time, he found four supernovae; three had already been discovered by others, the fourth was SN 2005df, which was Evan's third supernova discovery in NGC 1559 (after SN 1984J and SN 1986L) and his 40th visual discovery. SN 2005df was a Type Ia Supernova in Galaxy NGC 1559. It was discovered in Australia by Robert Evans on the early morning of August 5 NGC 1559 is a Barred spiral galaxy in the Constellation Reticulum.
In his book An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks called Evans a savant for his uncanny ability: He has memorized the starfield foregrounds and positions of around 1500 galaxies and can detect changes simply by looking at them through his telescope. An Anthropologist on Mars Seven Paradoxical Tales is a 1995 book by Neurologist Oliver Sacks consisting of seven medical case histories of individuals Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE (born July 9, 1933, London is a British Neurologist residing in the United States who has written popular books about In an interview, Evans reported that he was able "to observe 50 galaxies an hour when they were scattered around the sky, and 120 galaxies an hour in Virgo. Virgo ( Virgin, symbol, Unicode ♍ is a Constellation of the Zodiac. " Only in the 1990s have automated telescopes come into use which offered a comparable speed – like the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope. The Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT is an automated telescope used in the search for Supernovae The KAIT is a computer-controlled Reflecting telescope Evans also features prominently in Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything which quotes him as saying "There's something satisfying, I think, about the idea of light travelling for millions of years through space and just at the right moment as it reaches Earth someone looks at the right bit of sky and sees it. William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, (born 8 December 1951 is a best-selling American Author of humorous books on Travel, as well A Short History of Nearly Everything (ISBN 0-7679-0817-1 is a General science book by Bill Bryson, which explains some areas of science in ordinary It just seems right that an event of that magnitude should be witnessed. "
A supernova spotted by Evans in 1983 in the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy long before it reached its peak turned out be the first discovery of a new type of supernovae, later named Type 1c. Messier 83 (also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, M83 or NGC 5236) is an Intermediate spiral galaxy approximately 15 million
In 2005, Evans resigned from being the chairman of the AAVSO Supernovae Search Committee of two decades. Since its founding in 1911 the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO has coordinated collected evaluated analyzed published and archived Variable star He is the author of a number of books on religious history. Among many honors and recognitions of his work, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his contributions to science. Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia on 14 February 1975 "for the purpose of according recognition
Evans lives in Hazelbrook, Australia where he writes books and continues his supernova hunting using a 12 inch (31 cm) reflecting telescope from his back porch. Hazelbrook is a village in New South Wales, Australia (Elevation 674 Metres, Pop For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. A reflecting telescope (also called a reflector) is an Optical telescope which uses a single or combination of Curved mirrors that reflect Light A porch is a structure attached to a building forming a covered entrance to a vestibule or doorway The bulky 16 inch telescope fell into disuse since the place in Hazelbrook didn't accommodate a permanent installation in the back yard.
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Minister and amateur astronomer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||1937|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Sydney, Australia|
|DATE OF DEATH|
|PLACE OF DEATH|
Russell Merle Genet
|Amateur Achievement Award of Astronomical Society of the Pacific (together with Gregg Thompson)|