Congratulations to Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, former head of our Astrophysics Group at Imperial and president of the Royal Astronomical Society. This week, Imperial hosted a meeting in Michael’s honor on the occasion of his 65th birthday, From IRAS to Herschel/Planck: Cosmology with infrared and submillimetre surveys. Astrophysicists came from all over the UK, Europe and even the US and Asia to discuss the cosmology and long-wavelength astronomy that Michael has been studying since the late 1960s. (The talks, on galaxy evolution, cosmology, and the brightest galaxies in the Universe, will eventually be posted for download.) A particular highlight was a presentation from Richard Ellis on his team’s possible observation of the most distant galaxies ever seen.

At the conference dinner, Michael was roasted by Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, a classmate at Cambridge in the 60s, and by George Efstathiou, head of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge today. We heard about the books Michael has written over the last few decades, what it’s like working at a telescope with him late at night — and some of the poetry he wrote in his youth.

Finally, all of my new readers who have found this blog searching for information about a certain rock star astronomer will be happy to know that Brian May successfully reprised his talk on the Zodiacal Light for the even more demanding international crowd.