David Myles Gavine was born in Dundee on the 9th May 1937. Dave, as he is universally known, is the only child of Mary and Thomas Gavine but sadly his father tragically was killed as a result of an accident when Dave was only a year old. He suffered rheumatic fever when he was young and frequent illness resulted in him resting and reading considerably – which helped towards his lifelong interest in astronomy as he was able to recognize the main stars and constellations by the time he was 12 years old.
Dave’s education didn’t really suffer because of his childhood illnesses and in secondary school he became interested in Science, this being particularly encouraged by one of his Science teachers, one William Dow, who was later to become the first President of Dundee Astronomical Society.
It was in 1956 that Dave met up with an old school friend, Harry Ford and suggested to him that, together and with a few other interested individuals, they could form a local astronomy club. They requested that Dave’s teacher, Bill Dow, become their President as this gave the new society a certain stature and in August 1956, the first meeting of the Dundee Astronomical Society took place.
Dave Gavine gained a BSc from St Andrews University in 1960 and was awarded the J.F. Scott prize in Geology. In 1969, Dave gained a further degree from Aberdeen University with a second class honours in geography. Following this he taught at Grove Academy then was appointed a Master at Fort Augustus Abbey School where he taught geography, geology and science. Dave had always been an aurora watcher from the early days of the Dundee Astronomical Society and, like a number of us, was encouraged by James Paton who was Director of the Balfour Stewart Auroral Laboratory in Edinburgh, Director of the British Astronomical Association’s (BAA) Aurora Section.
In 1978 Dave became assistant Director of the BAA Aurora Section with Ron Livesey as Director and in 1979 was offered a lectureship at Leith Nautical College in Edinburgh, a post which involved teaching navigational astronomy and meteorology. He was also in charge of the fine GOTO planetarium within the college. The college closed in 1987 but became a further education college where Dave continued to teach mathematics and science. Dave retired in 1995 but continued to run evening classes in astronomy, geology and meteorology.
On arriving in Edinburgh he had joined the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh (ASE), served as President for three years and introduced a Journal which he edited for 20 years. For his services, he was awarded the Lorimer Medal of the ASE and was invited to become Honorary President of DAS in 1979.
Dave was a member of the Society for the History of Astronomy, the Royal Meteorological Society, the British Sundial Society and the Geological Society of Edinburgh. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1963.
From joining the British Astronomical Association in 1955 Dave was primarily an observer of aurora and noctilucent clouds but contributed from time to time to the Meteor, Lunar, Variable Star and Historical Sections. He was Assistant Director to Ron Livesey and Ken Kennedy of the Aurora Section for some 30 years and Director from 2005 to 2010. He was awarded the Lydia Brown Medal in 2003. In May 2012, asteroid 7120 was named Davidgavine by its discoverer Robert McNaught in recognition of Dave’s contribution to astronomy.
Dave always had a long standing interest in the history of astronomy, in particular its history in Scotland. He was encouraged to carry out serious research by his friend Professor Eric Forbes who became his supervisor. Nine years of part-time research in archives all over Britain resulted in the award of Scotland’s first Open University PhD in 1982 on Astronomy in Scotland 1745 – 1900.
Dave Gavine continued to observe the aurora and noctilucent clouds from his Edinburgh home and contributed observations of variable stars to the Variable Star Section of the BAA. He gave his Presidential Address to Dundee Astronomical Society almost every year since becoming Honorary President.
DAS Hon. Member
"Adventures in Lecture Land" a note by T Hayes
I had the pleasure to attend a meal with Dr. Gavine before a recent meeting with some members of the Committee and we were treated to some recollections of his lectures and other humerous tales. Stories such as the time he was lecturing in a fair sized hall to six and a half people - "The half only came in halfway through, and the Janney (Janitor) started stacking chairs and sweeping the hall before I finished my lecture!"
He had us in stitches as he related the sad tale of his time as a teacher in a school that had graffitti on the walls before graffitti was invented, and on the day he met the head teacher and staff for the first time. Such was the standard of the teachers he wouldn't be surprised if the teachers were the graffitti witers as their spelling was atrocious and in the same style as that on the walls. When asked why he stayed for four years he replied, "I couldn't escape!"
In a meeting Dr. Gavine was introduced as 'without whom Dundee Astronomical Society would not exist'. Dr. Gavine looked at the group, and promptly apologised. Our Chairman's told us that the nights talk was about a very famous family (The Herschel's) at which Dr Gavine looked round in shock and surprise, exclaiming "Who?"
Click on the image for historical pictures of Dave Gavine