Valdemar Axel Firsoff FRAS was known principally as an amateur astronomer. He was born on 29 January 1912 in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, and died on 19 November 1981. He lived in High Corrie, Arran , then Lochearnhead, before moving to Somerset, England, where he settled in Glastonbury.
Axel Firsoff held an MA degree in languages and worked as a Swedish translator and in the United Kingdom Patent Office.
He was a keen mountaineer and skier, as some of his earlier books reveal, and he was a ski instructor for the British Olympic Ski Team in the 1950s. He developed an interest in science, in particular geology and astronomy and this led him to publish numerous books on the moon and inner planets.
He was also a keen photographer and artist, and brought out the book Arran With Camera and Sketchbook in 1951.
Many of his books also touched on extraterrestrial life and the nature of the mind. In Life, Mind and Galaxies, he speculated that "mind seems to be an entity of the same order as energy and matter", an idea well before its time. Firsoff held unorthodox views, for example he did not believe in the expansion of the universe. In other aspects of his work, such as the nature of the lunar craters, which he considered to be of volcanic rather than cosmological origin, he was later proved to be well wide of the mark.
In his book Strange World of the Moon, Firsoff suggested that there are underground oceans on the moon. Astronomer G. Fielder commented in the New Scientist magazine that most astronomers would not accept this view but as the book contains interesting new ideas it is recommended to all students of the moon.
Drawing of Burnbank cottage High Corrie by Firsoff, from his book , Arran with Camera and Sketchbook 1951.
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