Meet the Team

The UK Astronomy team

Meet the charity founders and the volunteers that make up our invaluable team

The UK Astronomy team consists of dedicated volunteers who share the ethos and objectives of our wonderful charity. They are all dedicated to educating and supporting others in the field of astronomy at all levels of engagement - whether that be advice and help with equipment or education of all age groups.

Ross Hockham BCAe
"Ross the Boss"
Founder of UK Astronomy
Ross has always shown an interest in the universe, but this was a passion that was ignited when his wife, Frankie, brought him a small table-top telescope for his birthday. Ross went out into his garden in light polluted Milton Keynes not expecting to see much and saw Jupiter and its four moons. He was completely amazed that with just a small telescope - made up of just mirrors, lenses and a tube - he was able to see a planet and it's moons. That was it, He was hooked!

A few talks later at a local pavilion, he now teaches schools, community groups and businesses all about the wonders of the skies above. With a host of equipment and a mobile observatory there is now no one that he can’t bring the skies to.

In 2021, Ross was presented the British Citizen Award for his services. He was presented the Medal of Honour by Founder of Specsavers and BCA Patron, Dame Mary Perkins.
Frankie Hockham
"Astro Widow"
Co-Founder of UK Astronomy
Frankie is the only member of the crew who doesn’t really know anything about the skies. But as an essential and indispensable member of the team, she is the one behind the scenes designing banners, ordering equipment, fundraising and is the administrative brains behind the running of the organisation. Her real passion lies in helping, supporting, talking with and connecting communities together with our common interest of the universe.

Frankie also loves pigs. She even managed to get a UK Astronomy event at a pig sanctuary. She bought her husband, Ross, a little telescope, which ignited his passion in the skies - and that was the spark that started UK Astronomy.
Darryl Hood
Dedicated Volunteer
Like most boys, I went through the stage of "wow, aren't dinosaurs cool!", then grew out of it, into the next stage "wow, stars and planets are cool!" - Then I never grew out of it! My parents bought me and Argos bog standard cheapo telescope when I was about 7 and I could just about spot the moon with it, but I was hooked!

Inspired by that, I devoured anything I could get my hands on, dog eared library books were a particular favourite! I once badgered my parents to buy a copy of the Sunday Times, so I could sticker the free moon poster given away that week, with the landing sites of every single lunar mission from the early Soviet probes of the 50s, through to Apollo and up to date (circa 1999). Certifiable statto nerd!

After hitting University and my beloved (almost useless) telescope getting lost in one of many house moves, and nearly growing out of the "phase", my wife convinced me I should buy a new, more modern telescope. The proud owner of a beautiful, if somewhat creaky Newtonian telescope, I still find myself looking up at the moon from time to time. But now I'm able to show my kids the rings of Saturn, giant storms on Jupiter, the phases of Venus, nebulae that would swallow our entire solar system and, I hope instill that awe and wonder I once had as a young boy, myself. Maybe they won't grow out of this phase either. Now I share my passion with others as part of the UK Astronomy crew.
Janelle Harrier Wilson
NASA Solar System Ambassador
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida watching shuttle launches and staring at the stars. My first visit to Kennedy Space Center happened before I was two, and that's when the space bug bit. I have been a lover of space exploration and astronomy ever since.

I now teach secondary science and am a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. I found a flyer about UK Astronomy in the library when I first moved to England, and I connected with Ross and Frankie soon after. I enjoy being a part of UK Astronomy and helping to explain science and astronomy concepts and sharing what NASA is up to, especially to students.

Stuart Gabb
"Gift of the Gabb"
Dedicated Volunteer
As a child I was amazed that my dad could point out and name stars and planets. Then at the age of 8 watching Neil step on the moon on the school TV (not live!!) my passion grew.

Aware of this passion my wife bought me a travel scope and so it started again. I now have a Celesteron 8" HD. When looking online for more information I came across UK Astronomy and found they met in a pub local to me. I went along and was hooked on their vision of bringing astronomy to others. Now I am apart of the team and regularly volunteer at events and enjoy bring my experience and passion to others.
David Pickles
"Mr Pickles"
Dedicated Volunteer
It was the return of Halley’s Comet in 1986 that triggered my interest in the night sky. Aged 15 at the time, I still recall with fondness standing in the garden with my Dad, looking up at a faint fuzzy object in the sky, amazed that I was looking at an icy rock that had been travelling the Solar System for thousands, if not millions, of years.

Since then, my job as an Air Traffic Controller in the Royal Navy has kept me busy, but it has also provided me with some amazing opportunities – in particular, I will never forget seeing the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) for the first time from the fjords of Norway or the opportunity to gaze up at the Milky Way from the middle of the Indian Ocean, away from any trace of light pollution.

It was when my children started developing an interest in space, thanks in part to Professor Brian Cox, that I decided the time was right to invest in my first telescope – a Sky-Watcher Skymax-127. It was a great starter scope and I spent many nights in the back garden with my family looking at the craters of the Moon, the rings of Saturn and more distant wonders, such as the Great Orion Nebula. However, when my son Tom and I began to experiment with astrophotography, both the mount and telescope went through a series of upgrades, culminating in my current setup – an Altair Wave 115ED refractor mounted on a computer controlled NEQ6 equatorial mount. I have also invested in a Lunt Hydrogen Alpha telescope for solar imaging and a Sky-Watcher Skymax-180 for planetary imaging. Since then I have been lucky enough to have had some of my images printed in the Sky at Night and All About Space magazines and have gone on to present talks on astrophotography with my friend Ross, as part of the UK Astronomy crew.
Wil Cheung
"Aurora Chaser"
Dedicated Volunteer
From the age of 7 I remember being fascinated by the Moon. My parents got me a telescope and I never actually worked out how to use it and none of my cousins who I spent time with were interested in helping me. Nevertheless watching the sky at night kept my passion for astronomy going and I simply absolutely love it and love seeing the reactions of people who look at Saturn or The Moon through a telescope for the first time.

I run an observatory in Northumberland and I help run stargazing events for Northumberland National Park. I first discovered UK Astronomy from a Facebook search and joined the group. I quickly found that Ross and Frankie were great people and genuinely wanting to help others, so I always held the group in high regard.

As a moderator of a few large groups on Facebook, I was aware that the UK Astronomy group was accelerating in size and that the team might required some help managing the group. So I contacted Ross, asking if he would appreciate me coming on board - to which he greeted me with open arms. I am a proud member of the team and really looking forward to helping support the entire team once lockdown is over.
Aston Smith
"Cosmic Kid"
Junior UK Astronomer
Aston Smith is a keen aspiring astronomer with a fascination of space, time, everything in the observable universe and beyond. He first showed interest in the stars at the age of 2. His obsession in all things space grew so much, that at the age of 8 years old he decided to create and publish a book containing facts about our solar system. Now at the age of 10, Aston has published his second book titled Things About Space. Aston's book can be purchased online at his website

Living with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Aston found researching and creating his factual books about the space objects in our solar system both extremely challenging and satisfying. His fascination with space and the expanding universe captures his interest and provides him with focus and a welcome calm to his chaotic frame of mind.

Aston received a Celestron NextStar SE8 for christmas in 2020 and is blown away by the features and level of detail he is able to see compared to the bird watching telescope given to him by his Grandpa several years ago. He is also in awe at the generosity of the UK Astronomy community, who not only bought his book, but many who gifted him equipment and accessories for his telescope. Aston now waits in anticipation for the end of lockdown, where he can meet up with other keen astronomers and stargaze in a field in the middle of nowherere - a long way from the light polluted skies where he lives.

Aston was delighted when he was made an TGP NOMINAL Honorary Crew Member after featuring in their Christmas podcast in December 2020. He is also both delighted and very proud to be invited to be a member of the UK Astronomy team and looks to continue supporting the charity.
Lyndsay Smith
Dedicated Volunteer
Lyndsay Smith is the mum of UK Astronomy's Junior Astronomer, Aston. She assists the charity with it's fundraising, helping the charity founders, Ross and Frankie, and helps by supporting the charity at various events.

Lyndsay also supports the charity with research, grant applications, networking, marketing, informal photography and performs various administrative duties.