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Michael Bessell interviewed by Ragbir Bhathal in the Australian astronomers oral history project [sound recording]
Bib ID 3566297
Format AudioAudio, OnlineOnline [sound recording]
Bessell, Michael, 1942-, Interviewee
Online Versions
Access Conditions Access open for research, personal copies and public use. 
Description 2005 
3 digital audio tapes (ca. 195 min.) 

Australian astronomers oral history project.


Michael Bessell born in Tasmania in 1942, speaks about his family background; his early interests; his schooling; mentors and the development of his interest in astronomy; Bart Bok; his university years including an honours year spent at the Mount Stromlo Observatory; some outstanding physicists at the University of Tasmania; his meeting with the British astronomer, Fred Hoyle; his post graduate years; time spent at the Yerkes Observatory in the USA; learning about spectral classification and hot stars; returning to the Mount Stromlo Observatory to a research position; his role as Associate Director of Facilities at the observatory. He discusses his photometric review paper, photometric systems and observations; the changes in photo tubes; the role of survey telescopes; long period variables in Magellanic Clouds; his identification of AGB stars; AGB evolution; Skymapper.

Bessell discusses the discovery of CD-380245 the most metal deficient star and the implications of the discovery; the abundances in stars; the discovery of HE 0107-5240 and the implications for the study of the structure of stars; the work with Song and Zuckerman on young stars; the imaging of the first extra solar planet associated with a brown dwarf; his research strategy and his success in observational astronomy; his postgraduate students; the IAU Commission 25 (photometry) and 29 (stellar spectroscopy); New Zealand astronomy and the need for a national observatory there; the building of the spectrograph for SALT; his role as President of the Astronomical Society of Australia; astronomy education in Australia; the impact of his work on his family; his major achievements.


Michael Bessell is a Professor at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is internationally recognised for his work on photometry and his filter systems have become standard filters in use at most observatories throughout the world. His research interests include the study of the evolution of different mass stars and the build up of elements in these stars, searches for proto-planetry disks, proto-planets and brown dwarfs through a study of young M dwarfs, photometric astronomy and astronomical research. He has followed a distinguished career in astronomy and astrophysics, having published over 200 papers in international journals.


Recorded on September 30, 2005 at Duffy, A.C.T.

Also available online

Index/Finding Aid Note Timed summary (3 p.) and uncorrected transcript (typescript, 97 leaves) 
Subjects Bessell, Michael, 1942- -- Interviews.  |  Astronomers -- Australia -- Interviews.  |  Astrophysicists -- Australia -- Interviews.  |  Astronomical photometry -- Australia.
Occupation Astronomers.  |  Astrophysicists.
Other authors/contributors Bhathal, Ragbir (Ragbir Singh), Interviewer

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Copy: Recording
Special Collections Reading Room
ORAL TRC 5527 (transcript)
Copy: Transcript
Special Collections Reading Room
ORAL TRC 5527 (summary)
Copy: Summary
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Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalogue contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalogue should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written.