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Who is Horst Meyerdierks

I am a German who has lived in Scotland as an EU citizen since 1990. I have a degree in physics and a doctorate in astronomy, both from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universit├Ąt Bonn. After the PhD, I worked as application programmer for the UK astronomers at the Department of Astronomy (now Institute for Astronomy) of the University of Edinburgh, then as a research assistant at the Department of Computing Science of the University of Glasgow. I now work in the IT Group at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. I am also a member of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh (ASE), the British Astronomical Association (BAA), and the Institute of Physics (IoP).

The Apollo programme to take humans to the Moon got me interested in human spaceflight. In the early 1970s, I met a friend who converted me to amateur astronomy, and I still have the telescope I bought in 1977. We founded our own society, which probably folded in the mid 1980s. While at university, I joined the Volkssternwarte Bonn and for a few years worked on the editorial staff of their publication Telescopium. When university studies turned me into a professional astronomer for a while, amateur astronomy took a back seat from about 1985. In 1999, I resumed the hoppy and joined the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh.

I began university in 1979 and graduated in physics in 1986. From 1986 to 1989 I wrote my PhD thesis at the Radioastronomisches Institut der Universität Bonn (now part of the Argelander Institut für Astronomie) with the title The string and the ring - A galactic-disc loop caused by infalling halo clouds?. I used mainly microwave and millimetre-wave spectroscopy to investigate the local interstellar medium and the gaseous galactic halo. The fresh far-infrared images from the IRAS satellite also played a major part in this work.

I'm not so sure when my interest in computer programming began. Computers age faster than telescopes, so I have gone from using a PET 2001 at school, then a TI-59 programmable pocket calculator to a Commodore C64. As part of the research work at university, I went on to VAX/VMS computers and Fortran 77 as a programming language. I've made the conversion from VMS to Unix twice, first at the University of Bonn in 1989 and again at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh in 1992. I've also taught myself C, C++ and Java.

During the 1990s, my C64 home computer was replaced by a Mac Plus, then a Power Macintosh, which I later converted from MacOS 7 to Linux. At work, we began Linux in the incarnation called Red Hat, but have since converted to the Debian distribution of Linux.

At home, I have a Raspberry Pi (Rπ) as server (DHCP, local DNS, etc.). It is connected to the Internet by ADSL. The ADSL router doubles as IEEE 802.11g wireless access point and Ethernet switch. My laptops have wireless interfaces, so that I can stay connected anywhere in the house. Or indeed at the telescope in the garden.

Whenever the modem's public IP address changes, No-IP is notified so that a fixed DNS name keeps pointing at my home network. This enables the Rπ to act as my public web and email server. Public DNS service I currently provide through my DNS registrant.

I've always combined astronomy and computing, mostly by calculating astronomical ephemerides in some form or another. In the last few years, the computer is also taking over on the observational side, as I use a webcam and a dSLR to image objects in the sky.