Dr Chris Leigh
Strategic Projects' Coordinator
After leaving school, I spent a packed and fun eight years in the RAF, which involved a huge amount of training, followed by two search and rescue tours of duty around the UK. At the end of my service, I was compelled to seek out a new and mind-expanding challenge, and this led me to a four-year Astrophysics degree at the University of St Andrews.
Somehow I managed to land a first-class honours degree and was asked to stay on to undertake a PhD in the newly emerging (at that time) field of Extra-Solar planets. After graduating in 2004, I found my way down at LJMU and within months, had jumped at the chance of project managing the NSO shortly after it had started working in earnest with schools. The rest, as they say, is history, and I consider myself very fortunate to be involved with a capable and friendly group of individuals whose main purpose is to enthuse kids across the UK about science and astronomy.
Favourite Astronomical Object
Oh, but there are so, so many to chose from. Anyone that has experienced a clear, moonless night in the Australian outback and made the mistake of looking up will know how difficult a task this is. That said, for sheer beauty and mystery, I would probably go for an HST image of the Sombrero Galaxy, or M104 to its friends.
Well, I have and still do lead a very busy life - there are just never enough hours in the day. A little known fact about the University of St Andrews is that many (if not most) of the undergraduates end up marrying one another (c.f. William and Kate), and so it was for me in the form of the lovely Jenny. We now have three young sons to keep us extra busy and currently live in the Scottish countryside. When the boys are older, I fully intend to start cycling and rambling again, and I look forward to the day when I can watch a good Columbo film without toys flying across my field-of-view and having to yield to an episode of Bob the Builder or Thomas the Tank Engine.
I'll end by saying that I still can't believe that I actually get paid to look at the night sky. I'm also incredibly lucky to live in a world where rapid technology advances are continually extending the horizons of what we can observe, and to me, the pursuit of knowledge is so much more appealing than the pursuit of money.
You can email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the NSO on +44 151 231 2905.