David Sinden

David Sinden, pictured above left, died on Monday evening (29th August 2005) after a long illness. David was the last link with the old firm of Grubb-Parsons in Newcastle upon Tyne where he was Chief Optician. In 1979 he founded the Sinden Optical Company.

David was one of the worlds greatest authorities on optics and his expertise and knowledge will be sorely missed. Over the past few years he was chiefly involved with the refurbishment of all the instruments at Armagh Observatory, including building the old 15" reflector from line drawings. Unfortunately illness prevented him from overseeing the installation of the Calver Reflector this summer.

David was honoured recently by the International Astronomical Union with the naming of asteroid (10369)Sinden, which was discovered at Siding Spring by Dr David Asher.

David was Chief Optician at Grubb Parsons for many years, and was responsible for some of the world's largest optics, including the 4.2-metre (165-inch) mirror for the William Herschel Telescope, the 3.9-metre (153-inch) mirror for the Anglo-Australian Telescope, and the new corrector plate for the 48-inch Oschin Schmidt at Mount Palomar. Although embittered by the dismantling of Grubb Parsons in 1983 - a company to which he had devoted so much of his life - it did not deter him. He immediately set up his own company, Sinden Optics, and continued to produce high-quality optics ranging from standard-aperture mirrors for amateurs to a 40-inch mirror for a Japanese observatory, besides more specialist items such as a 16-inch Schmidt corrector plate and batches of 2-inch mirrors for industrial use. He also accepted commissions for a camera obscura for a Spanish institution and another for the Cuban government in Havana. David always emphasised that his work was not a particularly exotic occupation, and delighted in such words as 'dirty', 'grubby', 'grimy', 'filthy' and 'gritty'; and yet the results were superlative. He was self-demeaning in his acknowledgement of others, and often referred to the old hands who originally taught him, some of whom had learned their craft from others who had been taught by Howard Grubb - the Geordies whom he said knew far more about optics than he would ever know. Although optics was David's profession, he was an amateur astronomer (he joined the Association in 1949), and would take advantage of any opportunity to talk about telescopes and to help those who consulted him. His favourite telescope was his 6-inch Calver reflector on an altazimuth mount, and at times he took the opportunity to pursue other lines of research, such as his experiments in meteor spectroscopy in the 1950s and 1960s. David could talk for England. Every word he uttered and wrote was worthy of attention. He was passionate about not only modern optics but also the work of his predecessors - particularly Calver and Cooke - and was master of his art. The funeral took place at the crematorium, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, at 1.30 pm on Tuesday, 6th September 2005.

Our thoughts are with David's wife Helen and Family at this sad time.

David Sinden Tribute with video



  Public Web Stats
Last Updated : Monday, February 6, 2021

All content is Copyright © EAAS, authors and images.The East Antrim Astronomical Society is based in Ballyrobert, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.