Count your lucky stars! Mark Thompson awarded honorary doctorate for UEA

PUBLISHED: 21:08 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 21:08 16 July 2018

Astronomer Mark Thompson received an honorary doctorate at the UEA. Picture: UEA

Astronomer Mark Thompson received an honorary doctorate at the UEA. Picture: UEA


One look at Saturn changed the course of Mark Thompson’s life, and now he has been made an honourary doctorate of UEA.

Astronomer Mark Thompson received an honorary doctorate at the UEA. Picture: UEAAstronomer Mark Thompson received an honorary doctorate at the UEA. Picture: UEA

Mark Thompson can recall the first time he peered through his telescope and focused on Saturn.

“It was the magic that sparked my imagination,” he said.

And now the popular astronomer’s starry-eyed dreams have come true, as he is made an honorary doctorate of the University of East Anglia.

From age 10, Mr Thompson had a fascination with the universe and science, but the 45-year-old never studied a degree in his desired field.

He said: “I always wanted be in the media popularising science.”

Instead of going to university, Mr Thompson worked odd jobs in IT, the media and even trained to be an airline pilot.

“None of my brothers or sisters had gone to university, so I went straight in to work because that is what everyone else did in my family,“ he added, “I was a self-taught astronomer.”

The astronomer was awarded his doctorate st yesterday’s UEA graduation ceremony at Carrow Road.

He added: “I feel very proud, that view of Saturn which put me on this path was through an observatory on the edge of the university playing field.”

Mr Thompson continued to craft his passion for astronomy by visiting various locations across the world to star-gaze. He uploaded his experience to Youtube and shared the amazing images of the night sky.

Since finishing high-school, it was Mr Thompson’s aim was to make science more accessible and engaging to everyday people.

“Astronomy is only science you can do easily yourself, you don’t need any equipment, you don’t need a laboratory, you don’t need a observatory - all you need is your eyes, you can get out there any appreciate the night sky,” he said.

“I you want to do it for a hobby it is easy.”

The local astronomer will continue to host live science shows and work with the BBC on Stargazing live.

“When star gazing live came out we have four million viewers which was amazing for prime-time television,

“That seems to be bringing people out - and I think science doesn’t have the geeky image that it used to.”

Mr Thompson is also the patron for the Norwich Science Festival which will run from October 19 to 27.

“I want to say thanks to the university for giving me the degree, they are doing great stuff in the local community,”

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