Professor Jonti Horner
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Jonti first become interested in astronomy after accidentally viewing part of 'The Sky At Night' when he was five, and has been hooked ever since. Now, an astronomer and astrobiologist based at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, he started his journey at the ripe old age of eight, when he joined his local astronomical society. He remains a member and honorary president of the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society to this day.
Jonti studied Physics and Astronomy at the University of Durham, in the north of England, before moving to Oxford in 2000 to work on his Doctorate, which was conferred in 2004 for a thesis entitled 'The Behaviour of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System'. His research focuses on three main fields - the study of the Solar system (particularly the small objects therein, such as comets, asteroids and meteors); the search for alien worlds; and astrobiology, where he is particularly interested in understanding the coalescence of factors that might place a planet in our line-of-sight in the search for life beyond our Solar system.
Jonti is also one of the leaders of the Minerva-Australis Project, which uses a dedicated, state-of-the art facility on the Darling Downs in Southeast Queensland to search for exoplanets. Mount Kent Observatory is the only dedicated exoplanet facility in the southern hemisphere to be working with NASA, and is being used for follow-up observations of the discoveries being made by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS.