How much does he earn?: No 35: Professor Sir Martin Rees, last week appointed the 15th Astronomer Royal (from next January).

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Salary: Nothing. It is an honorary post under Royal warrants. But he has a Royal Society research professorship which pays just over pounds 35,000 a year.

Age: 52

Perks: Kudos as the 'Poet Laureate of the night sky' (he is already a distinguished scholar). The Astronomer Royal lost his responsibilities when the post was separated from the directorship of the Royal Greenwich Observatory; but 'as there is no analogous post for the other sciences one should take every opportunity to speak up for science as a whole'.

Home: A house in Cambridge.