About Mary

I was born and raised in Lancashire and I have loved astronomy since I was a child. I inherited a fascination of the Moon from my Mum, who was a child of the Apollo era and has always been interested in astronomy herself. I had my head in the astronomy sections of our encyclopaedia set before I could even properly read the text! I was really captivated by a Ladybird book about the constellations and their mythology, and to this day I think of the images in that book when I look at the constellations. I got my first telescope for my 11th birthday, and despite not having a clue about how to use it properly, I did successfully view the Moon through it and managed to do a solar projection using instructions from a book.  In the absence of a mentor or teacher of astronomy, I didn’t really progress beyond the basics for many years.

My passion for the subject was re-ignited when I became disabled and had to give up work for a number of years. During 2010/2011, my Mum and I had the opportunity to study for the Astronomy GCSE exam and this is where my astrophotography journey began, with a Helios refractor, Canon Powershot compact camera and a pair of elastic bands! My interest was well and truly piqued after studying the GCSE and I then went on to study the Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science via the Open University. 

I am now a keen astrophotographer and a move to the dark skies of rural Oxfordshire to live with my husband and fellow astronomer, Mark, has helped to fuel this passion. I’m lucky enough to have had my images appear in astronomy magazines, local and national newspapers, and on various tv shows. I don’t have a particular specialist area of astrophotography; basically if it’s in the sky I like to photograph it! I also love astronomy sketching because it makes me feel better “connected” with the object I’m observing if I’m committing it to paper because I have to study it so closely in order to draw it.

In March 2018 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. I am also a member of the British Astronomical Association, the Society for Popular Astronomy and the Society for the History of Astronomy.

I have done some astronomy blog and article writing, and have had articles appear in Sky at Night and All About Space magazines. I have made numerous appearances on BBC Radio Oxford, talking about various astronomy events and in 2018 I appeared on BBC Five Live. During the total lunar eclipse of September 2015, we had a reporter in the garden observing the event with me all through the night, recording interviews as the eclipse moved from phase to phase. I even did a live Skype link to them from the USA after we’d seen the Total Solar Eclipse in August 2017! I am also a regular co-host on the Astronomy FM radio show “Comet Watch”. I am passionate about outreach and love giving talks and astrophotography workshops to people aged 2 - 200 as well as running free astronomy outreach events in our village.

When I’m not doing astronomy related activities, I enjoy other types of photography, I play bass guitar and sing backing vocals in two local bands, The Band Next Door and Equal Numbers. I also enjoy baking, arts and crafts, and recently set up my Etsy shop selling hand made products, many of them astronomy themed. Check out the poster below for details of where to find the shop.

When I’m not doing all of the above, I love spending quality time with our four cats.

If you’d like to hear previews and get details of how to download music by The Band Next Door, click here

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To visit my Etsy shop click here