The following is an expert from our full interview with Brian May. To read the entire interview check out issue 6 of All About Space, on sale now.
It’s safe to say that Brian’s time with astronomy hasn’t been a straightforward one, with the small matter of Queen getting in the way of his PhD in astrophysics (which he completed in 2007), but he told us he still practices astronomy and appears on the BBC’s The Sky At Night “occasionally, I’m a bit busy though, but yes!” And he still retains the same passion for astronomy that he’s always had: “Oh absolutely, yeah. It’s to me endlessly stimulating and challenging, I love it.”
For all his experiences, and especially considering his PhD, we asked Brian what he thought the best way for someone new to space and astronomy was to get involved with the field. “Well, I’m sure if they’re reading your magazine they’ll already be involved,” he said. Magazines and books are a great starting point, according to Brian, but for him it’s the wonder of looking at the night sky that really instils the greatest feeling. “Find yourself a dark place, go outside, give your eyes about 20 minutes to accustom, which most people don’t realise, and look up at the night sky and start there. Learn your way around the constellations because it’s magic, you’ll learn your way around a land, a territory, which will be with you all your life, and you will see these seasons change time after time and your old friends will come back every year.
“It’s the most spiritually empowering thing that I know,” Brian continued, “to look up at the night sky and see Orion rising as the autumn closes in at the last moment, and it’s got me through some very hard times. When I had a couple of serious bouts of depression in my life the stars were a big factor in pulling me out. People used to say ‘what’s your spirituality?’ and I’d say I don’t know, but I found out looking at the stars one night that that’s what it was.”