About the Author


Dr Thomas Gough   (Hereafter TTG)

1963 - 67
St Andrews University. Hons degree in chemistry with two years of pure maths.

Edinburgh University. Chemistry Ph.D.
During this time became interested in astronomy and built a number of telescopes for observation of variable stars, culminating in a 16" newtonian reflector.

Employed at Royal Observatory Edinburgh (R.O.E.) on a 'Site Testing Project'. R.O.E. had been asked to employ several suitable young men who would use particular test equipment to search for a new site in the Northern Hemisphere for an astronomical observatory.

It was TTG who proposed the Island of La Palma in the Canary Islands and who together with one assistant first tested the site in the summer of 1972 with very encouraging results.  Since there was no road access to the site at 8,000 feet (2440 m.)  a 4,000 foot ascent/walk was required. The initial observation period was 6 weeks with weekly mule supply. Following more extended testing over a full year, the site was chosen for the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, a multinational observatory for use mainly by UK, Spain and the Scandinavian countries. It is now recognised as one of the most important observatories in the northern hemisphere.

Science teaching at school level.

1980 - 1984.
Circumnavigated in a 40 ft. yacht via Panama Canal, Australasia, South Africa with many intermediate stops. This was before the electronics revolution and so ocean navigation was entirely by sextant . Single handed (i.e. alone) to New Zealand. Thereafter with Anne, my wife to be. Returned to Oban in western Scotland in June 1984.

1984 - 1997
Further science teaching

Became interested in the present topic, field work beginning in May 2007.  Facility in the use of a theodolite was assisted by the previous experience of sextant use.