William Tobin, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.A.S., was born in Manchester, England, in 1953 and attended Stockport Grammar School. He read Natural Sciences at Cambridge (Emmanuel College) and took his doctorate in astronomy at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (USA). Since then he has worked at the University of St Andrews, the Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale in Marseilles, the Marseilles Observatory (where Foucault's largest telescope is preserved and his interest in Foucault was sparked) and the Université de Provence. Since 1987 he has been at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he has been Director of the Mount John University Observatory and is currently a part-time Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, splitting his time between New Zealand and France. He has spent sabbatical leave at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris. Research interests besides Foucault centre on eclipsing binary stars in the Magellanic Clouds and the comet-like objects surrounding the deep southern star Beta Pictoris. His astrophysical research has mostly been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the International Astronomical Union. Among his distinctions are the New Zealand Institute of Physics Journalism Award (1993), the Arthur Beer Memorial Prize for the best article in the journal Vistas in Astronomy (1994), and the Mechaelis Memorial Prize administered by the University of Otago for contributions to astronomy (1997).