Dr Bernie Fanaroff's achievements range from his work as a radio astronomer to contributions to the country's liberation through the trade union movement, and latterly, to South Africa's winning bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. His studies of extragalactic radio sources were pioneering and the Fanaroff-Riley classification of radio sources, developed with Julia Riley while at Cambridge, is still used today.
During the turbulent 70s and 80s Fanaroff devoted 18 years to establishing and building the trade union movement, specifically the Metal and Allied Workers' Union, later the National Union Of Metalworkers. After a nine-year stint with the Reconstruction and Development Programme he returned to radio astronomy as part of the nascent SKA project. His acumen as a leader and his expertise in radio astronomy were crucial to South Africa's winning the bid. SKA promises to bring massive infrastructure development, create a significant legacy of skills, and attract young researchers in Africa to enter careers in science and technology.
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