Albert Francis Arthur Lofley Jones OBE (9 August 1920 – 11 September 2013) was a New Zealand amateur astronomer, and a prolific variable star and comet observer, a member of the Variable Star Section and the Comet Section of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand.[1][2]



Albert Jones was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1920 and was educated at Timaru Boys' High School. At the beginning of the Second World War he joined the army, but in 1942 he was classified unfit for overseas service.[1] He worked as a miller in a rolled oats mill, as a grocery shop owner and in a car assembly factory.[3] He died in Nelson, New Zealand, in 2013.[4][5]



In 1963 he became the sixth astronomer in history to make 100,000 observations of variable stars and by 2004 he became the first to make more than 500,000 observations.[2] His visual brightness estimates were very precise: most observers can distinguish variations of one tenth of a magnitude, but Jones' measurements were reported to show a standard deviation of about one twentieth of a magnitude.[1] In 1946 he discovered the comet C/1946 P1 (Jones) and in 2000 he co-discovered, together with Japanese astronomer Syogo Utsunomiya the comet C/2000 W1 (Utsunomiya-Jones), becoming the oldest comet discoverer. In 1987 he co-discovered the supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which was the brightest naked-eye supernova explosion since 1604.[3]


His work has been widely acknowledged. In 1968 he received the Merlin Silver Medal and Prize of the British Astronomical Association for his work in establishing accurate magnitudes of comets.[1] In the 1987 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to astronomy.[6] The following year, asteroid 3152 Jones was named after him.[3] He won the Amateur Achievement Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for his variable star and comet observations in 1998.[7] The comet C/2000 W1 discovery brought him the Edgar Wilson Award, administered by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in 2001.[8] In 2004 he received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the Victoria University of Wellington.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Austin, Rodney R. D. (December 1994). "Albert Jones – The Quiet Achiever" (PDF). Southern Stars. 36 (1&2): 36–42. Bibcode:1994SouSt..36...36A. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b Toone, John (March 2005). "Frank Bateson and the RASNZ Meeting at Tauranga in 2004" (PDF). Variable Star Section Circular (123): 6–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d "Albert Jones to Receive Honorary Doctorate". American Association of Variable Star Observers. Archived from the original on 5 April 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  4. ^ "Albert Jones: obituary". The Press. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  5. ^ Moore, Bill. "City award-winning astronomer dies". Nelson Mail. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  6. ^ 4th Supplement, London Gazette, No. 50950, 12 June 1987. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Past Amateur Achievement Winners". Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Archived from the original on 13 July 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  8. ^ "The Edgar Wilson Award Recipients". Retrieved 8 January 2011.

External linksEdit