High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Richard van der Riet Woolley (24 April 1906 24 December 1986) was an English astronomer who became Astronomer Royal. His mother's maiden name was Van der Riet. Woolley was born in Weymouth, Dorset, and moved with his parents to South Africa upon their retirement. There he attended and received his degree from the University of Cape Town. Woolley returned to the United Kingdom and studied at University of Cambridge. After two years at Mount Wilson Observatory he again returned to the United Kingdom in 1931.