City award-winning astronomer dies
Albert Jones, a modest Nelson astronomer who achieved international fame and recognition, has died after a short illness, aged 93.
Mr Jones fitted more than 60 years of meticulous star-gazing around a career in the grocery trade, mainly using a reflecting telescope he built himself in 1948. With it he found comets and a new super nova and made around half a million observations.
His work was so accurate, he regularly fielded requests from more than 30 professional astronomers in 18 countries and he received a string of international awards and an OBE. Leading astronomers from overseas made a point of calling on him when they visited here.
He gave his telescope to the Nelson Provincial Museum two years ago.
Mr Jones had lived at Whareama in Stoke since he broke his hip in 2010. He recently had to give up using a telescope but remained mentally alert and full of zest until a few days ago, when he was taken ill.
His wife Carolyn said although his observing days were over, Mr Jones had retained his tremendous interest in astronomy and had been "a great companion".
Mr Jones, awarded an honorary science doctorate by Victoria University in 2004, never formally trained in astronomy despite the encouragement of friends.
"If I did that I would never have time to look at the stars," he said in 2011 interview. "I don't mind getting my hands dirty at work - at least I can look at the stars. I have never amassed much money, but I have had a lot of fun."
At that time still making regular observations and sending them to overseas astronomers each month, he said that that if he was remembered, he hoped it would be for the quality of his work, not the quantity.
His life will be celebrated at the chapel of Shone and Shirley in Tahunanui at 11am on Monday.
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