This is an unusual book, combining as it does papers on astrobiology, history of astronomy and sundials, but—after all—Woody Sullivan is an unusual man. In late 2003 I spent two fruitful and enjoyable months in the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington (UW) working on archival material accumulated over the decades by Woody, for a book we will co-author with Jessica Chapman on the early development of Australian astronomy. The only serious intellectual distraction I faced during this period was planning for an IAU colloquium on transits of Venus scheduled for June 2004 in England, where I was down to present the ‘Cook’ paper. I knew Woody was also interested in transits (and, indeed, anything remotely connected with shadows—see his paper on page 3), and in discussing the Preston meeting with him it transpired that his 60th birthday was timed to occur just one week later. This was where the seed of ‘Woodfest’ began to germinate. Why not invite friends and colleagues to join Woody in Seattle and celebrate this proud event? I put the idea to Woody and others at UW, they liked it, and ‘Woodfest’ was born.
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