Alex Rodgers became the sixth Director of the Observatory in 1986, but his career at Mount Stromlo had started 32 years earlier. In 1954, Rodgers won a scholarship to complete his PhD at the new ANU Research School under the Directorship of Richard Woolley. Rodgers ended up staying – he spent his entire astronomy career at the Mount Stromlo Observatory.
Rodgers’ passion for engineering was a key influence on his Directorship. As astronomer Ken Freeman reflected, ‘he argued very strongly that Stromlo’s engineering capability was a vital part of its identity and its role in the future.’ Rodgers ensured that Mount Stromlo maintained its scientific leadership through his focus on developing new instrumentation, such as a custom-built spectrophotometer (to measure the spectrum of observed light) and photon-counting arrays (a form of advanced astronomical photography). But Rodgers’ most significant contribution was his involvement in the MACHO project – an international search for ‘dark matter’ (read more about this project in *Eyes on the Skies*).
Following his directorship, Rodgers continued his research on variable stars, and remained at the ANU until his death in 1997.