Imperial College London

Emeritus ProfessorMichaelRowan-Robinson

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Distinguished Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 7530m.rrobinson Website




1011Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus





I work on infrared astronomy and cosmology. 

I was Head of the Astrophysics Group at Imperial College in London from 1993 to 2007.

From 2007-12 I continued to teach part-time in the Blackett Lab, Imperial.  I was President of the Royal Astronomical Society 2006-8.  I chaired the UK Ground-Based Facilities Review in 2009, and I was Chair of the European Southern Observatory's Observation Planning Committee in 2011.

I am also strongly involved in astronomy outreach activities, both in my home locality and more widely.  I live in Southwold, Suffolk, and write a monthly column in the Southwold Organ about astronomy, tides, coastal erosion and climate change called Stars'n Tides.  I am Honorary President of the Darsham And Surrounding Hamlets (DASH) astronomical society.  I have given talks about astronomy and space to primary schools and worked with local cubs for their astronomy badge.  I gave lectures at the Thessaloniki Demetriad Festival in 2008 and 2009 (texts here).  I took part in a debate about the reality of black holes at the Hay Science Festival in 2015 (my contribution here).  I gave a talk via webinar in Nov 2015 to students at Kharagour, India, on Astronomy from Space.

I have also become increasingly interested in the history and philosophy of science.  I gave a talk in 2013 at University College London on 'Reflections on Kant and Herschel: the interaction of theory and observation' (text here, published in Harmony of the Sphere, ed. Silvia De Bianchi, 2013, Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

I gave a talk on 'Shakespeare's astronomy' on the BBC World at One on Shakespeare's 450th birthday and a longer version as part of the IXth INSAP (Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena) conference in 2015 at Gresham College, London (text here).  I took part in a debate about Shakepeare's Astronomy at the 2016 Cheltenham Science Festival and gave a talk on the same subject at the 2017 Southwold Arts Festival.

I have a strong interest in Aristotle and his legacy.  I wrote an article 'Was Aristotle the First Physicist ?' in Physics World in 2002 (text here).  Work in progress is to expand this to book length: 'At the Lyceum of Aristotle'.

I gave a lecture on 'Interplay between Evidence and Theory in Astrophysics and Cosmology' at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham, in 2015.  Examples discussed included Copernicus, Galileo, Maxwell, Einstein, Hubble (text here).

My 'Contemporary Authors' entry is given here.  As well as writing on astronomy and science, I wrote a play 'The LIfe and Times of Nicolas Koppernick of Torun', which was broadcast in a Polish translation by Bolek Taborski by the BBC Polish Service in four parts during December 1973 as part of the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Copernicus's birth.


My books are:

Cosmology 1977, Oxford University 

  1981, 2nd edition;

  1981, Japanese edition; 

  1996, 3rd edition;

  2004, 4th edition;

  2008, Russian edition.

Cosmic Landscape 1979, Oxford University Press

  1988, Japanese edition, Chijn Shokan;

  1991, Hungarian edition, ('Kozmikus Tajker') Gondolat.

Cosmological Distance Ladder 1985, W.H.Freeman & Company

Fire and Ice, the Nuclear Winter 1985, Longman

  1985, Japanese edition, Iwanami Shoten;

  1986, Spanish edition, ('El Invierno Nuclear') Ariel;

  1993, Bulgarian edition.

Our Universe, an armchair guide 1990, Longmans

  1992, German edition, 'Das Universum der Sterne', Spektrum;

  1992, Italian edition, 'L'Universo', Zanichelli;

  2007, Turkish edition, ' Altinda', Tubitak Populer Bilim Kitiplar

Ripples in the Cosmos 1993, W.H.Freeman/Spectrum

  1994, German edition, 'Das Flustern des Urknalls', Spektrum;

  1995, Japanese edition, Springer Tokyo.

Nine Numbers of the Cosmos 1999, Oxford University Press

  1999, Portuguese edition, 'Os Nove Numeros do Cosmos', Temas e Debates;

  2001, Spanish edition, 'Los Nueve Numeros del Cosmos', Editorial Complutense;

  2002, Italian edition, 'I Nove Numeri del Cosmo', Editori Riuniti.

Night Vision, 2013, Cambridge University Press

Stars'n Tides, Dec 2014, Leiston Press, 

  Edited collection of first 100 Stars'n Tides columns for the Southwold Organ



Rowan-Robinson M, Oliver S, Wang L, et al., 2016, The star formation rate density from z=1 to 6, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol:461, ISSN:0035-8711, Pages:1100-1111

Marchetti L, Vaccari M, Franceschini A, et al., 2016, The HerMES submillimetre local and low-redshift luminosity functions, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol:456, ISSN:0035-8711, Pages:1999-2023

Asboth V, Conley A, Sayers J, et al., 2016, HerMES: a search for high-redshift dusty galaxies in the HerMES Large Mode Survey - catalogue, number counts and early results, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol:462, ISSN:0035-8711, Pages:1989-2000

Adam R, Ade PAR, Aghanim N, et al., 2016, Planck 2015 results I. Overview of products and scientific results, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol:594, ISSN:1432-0746

Ade PAR, Aghanim N, Arnaud M, et al., 2016, Planck 2015 results XV. Gravitational lensing, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol:594, ISSN:1432-0746

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