Friday, 11 April 2014

Dr Frank Bateson O.B.E.

“I have the opportunity of doing, if God wills, the things I have always wanted to do. By profession I am an accountant, by accident a businessman, but by nature an astronomer.”

Born in October 1909 Dr Frank Bateson O.B.E. was a nationally and internationally renowned astronomer whose achievements included the establishment of the Mt John Observatory in South Canterbury. Often referred to as the father of modern New Zealand astronomy Dr Bateson lived and worked in Tauranga over a period of nearly 40 years.

His connection began in 1952 when he and his wife Doris purchased a holiday home in Greerton. In his book Paradise Beckons, Frank writes that although they were shown the suburb of Otumoetai it was the county town of Greerton that impressed them both. At that time Greerton was largely citrus orchards with very few houses. In 1969, when Frank retired from his job as astronomer in charge of Mt John Observatory, the house in Pooles Road became their home.

It was from this home that Frank established a non-profit company to manage the network of variable star observers. Variable stars were his life’s work having founded the Variable Star Section of the New Zealand Astronomical Society in 1927. More than a million observations of these stars have since been recorded. In 1977 Dr Bateson’s many contributions to astronomy were recognized with an O.B.E and an honorary doctorate from Waikato University.

Dr Bateson passed away in Tauranga 16 April 2007 aged 97.

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