Here is the chatty version of my career:
I grew up in Kent and went to Chatham House Grammar School, as did Paul Sutherland, the man behind Skymania. We were amongst the co-founders of the Thanet Astronomical Society for Youth. I then moved to the Far North as I saw it then, to study at Edinburgh University. Of course, now I see Edinburgh as being in the South of the country (ie. Scotland, fair Alba). After four years of fun, I moved to The Midlands, starting a PhD at the Leicester X-ray Astronomy Group.
My first job was at the MIT Center for Space Research, now a Kavli Institute, officially working on X-ray bursters, but actually doing AGN with Martin Elvis in my spare time. After applying for about eight million jobs, the way you do at that age, I eventually landed at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, which at that time was in Herstmonceux castle. While I was there, there were discussions about moving RGO elsewhere – one of several times the ongoing Observatory Wars intersected with my life. As you may know, after a brief move to Cambridge, the RGO ended up back in Greenwich, where it is now part of the Royal Museums at Greenwich.
But back to Andy… my next move was to the Astronomy Unit in what was then QMW, now QMUL, in the East End of London, where I worked with Michael Rowan-Robinson on IRAS galaxies, as well as continuing AGN work (sometimes the same thing… ) I next moved across campus to what was then a separate Physics Department, for my first permanent teaching job. At that point, the famous submm group of Peter Ade, Matt Griffin etc was there. Later they moved the whole group, lock stock and barrel to Cardiff!
In 1994, I landed the very exciting job of Regius Professor in Edinburgh, located at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, where I have been ever since. Since that time, I have done all sorts of exciting research in Active Galaxies, Cosmology, the Virtual Observatory, lots of Teaching, and various other things, described elsewhere in these pages. I was Head of the Institute for Astronomy for many years, and then Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy from 2003 to 2008. Then they let me off for a year for good behaviour, and I took a one year sabbatical at KIPAC at SLAC. I am not Head of Anything just now, but still Regius Professor.
Just a wee historical note. For around two centuries, the “Royal Observatory” has had both a University aspect, and a Government aspect, first on Calton Hill, then on Blackford Hill. The Regius Professor, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, and the Director of the Observatory, were one and the same person – the Triple Crown. The last person for whom that was true was Malcolm Longair. After Malcolm resigned and moved to Cambridge, the ROE, the RGO, and the island sites of La Palma and Hawaii were plunged into another episode of Observatory Wars. Yours truly was appointed as Regius Professor, but not the other two thirds of the Triple Crown, and I was handed a political hot potato. Well… cutting a long story short, by 1999, the island sites were independent, we had created the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC) at ROE, John Brown in Glasgow was Astronomer Royal for Scotland, and the RGO had moved to Greenwich and become a public engagement centre rather than a research institution. The ATC is still going strong, but is now a UKRI/STFC establishment. John Brown sadly died in December 2019. Currently there is no Astronomer Royal for Scotland.