Queen guitarist reveals Sidmouth inspiration

Queen guitarist Brian May said his love of astronomy was sparked by a trip to Sidmouth’s observatory while on holiday aged 13.

The world-famous musician and astrophysicist admitted a tour of the Norman Lockyer telescopes in 1960 cemented his interest in exploring the stars.

Mr May, who sold more than 200 million records with his band Queen, told the Herald: “My dad phoned up and asked if I could have a tour. Dr Barber showed us around and that really stuck with me.”

Speaking at the opening of the Connaught Dome at the observatory’s centenary celebrations on Saturday, he said the spectroscopy work he saw being done there was what he ended up doing his PhD in.

“I remember standing on tip-toes to peer through the six-inch telescope here, it was very inspiring,” he said.

“If my interest wasn’t cemented before it certainly was after that.”

The guitarist, who studied at Imperial College London, admitted he did become ‘a bit distracted’ after 1970, but was inspired by Sir Patrick Moore to finish his thesis on space-dust, and said he was glad to be back at the Norman Lockyer Observatory again