‘Heart’ of La Societe’s Astronomy Section dies
ASTRONOMER David Le Conte, who was involved with NASA’s moon landing more than 50 years ago, has died.
A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mr Le Conte was described as the ‘heart’ of La Societe Guernesiaise’s Astronomy Section.
Since joining the section in 1978, Mr Le Conte continued to bring the wonders of the night sky to the public eye throughout his life and loved opening Guernsey’s observatory.
‘David loved passing on his knowledge of astronomy.
‘His enthusiasm was infectious as he gave talks and showed people what there was to see through the club’s telescopes,’ said section secretary Jean Dean.
‘David became the heart of the Astronomy Section, inspiring many people over a span of 40 years to look up at the night sky. He will be greatly missed.’
After securing a degree, Mr Le Conte worked at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.
Then he moved to Aberystwyth, Wales, where he researched and developed astronomical equipment.
This led him to work for the USA Smithsonian Institute in 1964, tracking satellites with optics and lasers on NASA’s space programme.
He became manager of the SI Maui, Hawaii astrophysical observing station.
While there he photographed the 1968 Apollo 8 trans-lunar injection rocket burn, the first manned mission to orbit and return from the Moon.
Promoted to executive director of SI’s Washington Research Foundation, he later moved to become department manager at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.
After his return to Guernsey, he became Section Secretary in 1985.
Troves of expertise, experience and enthusiasm accompanied him to the club, which grew in size.
His efforts founded the current site in 1990.
Mr Le Conte’s prowess allowed for a purpose-built roll-off roof telescope building with research grade telescopes.
He also helped to design both the Guernsey flag adopted in 1985 and the Liberation Monument, and was a Jurat of the Guernsey Royal Court.
Father to Sarah and the late Christopher, he is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and sister, Margaret.