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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory


My PhD research (1985-1989) was on optical aperture synthesis techniques, centering on the design of the Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope (COAST).

As a Fellow of the Royal Commission of the Exhibition of 1851 in Cambridge from 1989-1990, I made the first image of the surface of a star other than the sun, imaging the surface of Betelgeuse using aperture-masking techniques on the William Herschel Telescope in La Palma.

I moved to the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC and made the first direct measurement of the outer scale of optical turbulence using the Mark III Interferometer on Mt Wilson in California. I also worked on the design and construction of the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI) on Anderson Mesa, Arizona and developed maximum-entropy image reconstruction techniques tailored to the unique noise characteristics of data from optical interferometry.

I moved to the University of Durham in 1994, where I led the adaptive optics group responsible for the design, construction and delivery of the ELECTRA and NAOMI adaptive optics systems for the William Herschel Telescope.

Returning to Cambridge in 1999, I worked on the developing and promoting the concept for the Large Optical Array (LOA), supported by a UK-wide consortium, as well as being Co-PI (with Fabien Malbet, Grenoble) of a Europe-wide consortium developing a concept for the VSI interferometric instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Chile.

In 2002 I co-led Cambridge's participation in the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI) an optical/infrared aperture synthesis telescope under construction in New Mexico, USA. Chris Haniff and I act as  System Architects for the MROI, responsible for the overall system design and technical oversight. The first telescope of this 10-telescope array has been installed on site and Cambridge installed and commissioned the tip/tilt adaptive optics system on this in late 2018. The second telescope is under construction with the aim of interferometrically combining the light from two telescopes in 2021. However, the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic means that this date is currently under review. 

I wrote an introductory text on optical aperture synthesis at visible and infrared wavelengths, "Practical Optical Interferometry" published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.

I am a member of the Cambridge Exoplanet Research Centre, a multi-institute collaboration for research into exoplanets.


Optical/infrared aperture synthesis;

Image reconstruction;

Photon-counting infrared detectors;

Adaptive optics;

Precision astronomical instrumentation, especially high-resolution spectroscopy for the detection and characterisation of exoplanets.



Key publications: 

Please visit my publications list.

Reader in Experimental Astrophysics
Dr. David  Buscher

Contact Details

Astrophysics Group
Battcock Centre for Experimental Astrophysics
Cavendish Laboratory
JJ Thomson Avenue
+44 (0)1223 337302


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