Brian G. Marsden

British astronomer

Brian Geoffrey Marsden (5 August 193718 November 2010) was a British astronomer, director of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams from 1968 to 1999, and director of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 1978–2006.

It takes a dramatic event to get people's attention, and we thought the comet crash with Jupiter might have done the job...


When the Deep Impact probe hit Comet 9P/Tempel, there was almost no change in brightness...
This outburst by Comet Holmes is extreme! This is a terrific outburst. And since it doesn’t have a tail right now, some observers have confused it with a nova. We’ve had at least two reports of a new star.
  • What delighted me was that it's 30 years from now — not next week or next year. … That would be totally hopeless; that would be terrifying, in fact. Time is on our side in this one — that's why it's such a wonderful illustration of the process... I say 30 years is a good long time to do something about it if it is a problem … We should be thankful we have this kind of notice.
  • It is probably a good idea to search, at some level, for asteroids that come to the Earth's general vicinity. But merely counting the asteroids found is not sufficient. It is desirable to follow up each discovery to examine whether it can or can not be a threat during the next century or so. Objects for which the threat cannot be eliminated should be singled out for special study, notably to the extent of searching for old images in photographic archives. 1997 XF11 was noteworthy for the apathy shown to it prior to the very widespead announcement in March. If proper attention had been given to it earlier, the circumstances that led to the announcement would never have occurred. Sometimes statistics will conspire to draw attention to a problem. Maybe they are trying to tell us something.
Wikipedia has an article about: