American People Famous Astronomers from the United States

Reference
4.1k views 301 items

List of notable or famous astronomers from the United States, with bios and photos, including the top astronomers born in the United States and even some popular astronomers who immigrated to the United States. If you're trying to find out the names of famous American astronomers then this list is the perfect resource for you. These astronomers are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known astronomer from the United States is included when available.

People here include everything from Samuel Pierpont Langley to Benjamin Banneker.

This historic astronomers from the United States list can help answer the questions "Who are some American astronomers of note?" and "Who are the most famous astronomers from the United States?" These prominent astronomers of the United States may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected American astronomers.

Use this list of renowned American astronomers to discover some new astronomers that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page. (301 items)

1
Carl Sagan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 62 (1934-1996) Carl Sagan appeared in the 2012 documentary film Beyond Expression Bright.

2
Neil deGrasse Tyson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 59 Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose ...more

3
Edwin Hubble is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 64 (1889-1953) Edwin Powell Hubble was an American astronomer who played a crucial role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational ...more

4
Henrietta Swan Leavitt is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 53 (1868-1921) Henrietta Swan Leavitt was an American astronomer who discovered the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. A graduate of Radcliffe College, Leavitt started ...more

5
Samuel Pierpont Langley is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 72 (1834-1906) Samuel Pierpont Langley was an American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation. He attended Boston Latin School, graduated from English High School of Boston, ...more

6
George Nelson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 67 George Driver "Pinky" Nelson, Ph.D. is an American physicist, astronomer, science educator, and a former NASA astronaut.

7
Michael Foale is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 61 Colin Michael Foale, CBE, PhD is a British-American astrophysicist and former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of six space shuttle missions and extended stays on both Mir and the International ...more

8
David Rittenhouse is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 64 (1732-1796) David Rittenhouse was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official. Rittenhouse was a member of the American ...more

9
Tom Gehrels is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 86 (1925-2011) Anton M.J. "Tom" Gehrels was a Dutch-American astronomer, Professor of Planetary Sciences, and Astronomer at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

10
Benjamin Banneker is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 75 (1731-1806) Benjamin Banneker was a free African American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer. Born in Baltimore County, Maryland, to a free African American woman and a former slave, Banneker ...more

11
William Alfred Fowler is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 84 (1911-1995) William Alfred "Willie" Fowler was an American nuclear physicist, later astrophysicist, who, with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics;.

12
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 85 (1910-1995) Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, FRS, was an Indian American astrophysicist born in Lahore, Punjab. Chandrasekhar was awarded, along with William A. Fowler, the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics, with ...more

13
John-David F. Bartoe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 73 John-David Francis Bartoe is an American astrophysicist. He is the Research Manager for the International Space Station at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He provides oversight for the Program ...more

14
Eugene Merle Shoemaker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 69 (1928-1997) Eugene Merle Shoemaker, also known as Gene Shoemaker, was an American geologist and one of the founders of the field of planetary science. He is best known for co-discovering the Comet ...more

15
Alexei Filippenko is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 59 Alexei Vladimir "Alex" Filippenko is an American astrophysicist and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. Filippenko graduated from Dos Pueblos High School ...more

16
Allan Sandage is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 84 (1926-2010) Allan Rex Sandage was an American astronomer. He was Staff Member Emeritus with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. He determined the first reasonably accurate values for the ...more

17
Edward L. G. Bowell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 75 Edward L. G. "Ted" Bowell, is an American astronomer. Bowell was educated at Emanuel School London, University College, London, and the Université de Paris. He was principal ...more

18
George Gamow is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 64 (1904-1968) George Gamow, born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov, was a theoretical physicist and cosmologist – notably an early advocate and developer of Lemaître's Big Bang theory. He discovered a ...more

19
Curt Michel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 83 Frank Curtis "Curt" Michel was an American astrophysicist, a former professor of astrophysics at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and a former NASA astronaut.

20
Geoffrey Marcy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 63 Geoffrey W. Marcy is an American astronomer, who is currently Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, famous for discovering more extrasolar planets than anyone else, ...more

21
Fred Lawrence Whipple is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 98 (1906-2004) Fred Lawrence Whipple was an American astronomer, who worked at the Harvard College Observatory for over 70 years. Amongst his achievements, he discovered some asteroids and comets, came up with ...more

22
Kip Thorne is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 77 Kip Stephen Thorne is an American theoretical physicist, known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics. A longtime friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, ...more

23
Arno Allan Penzias is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 84 Arno Allan Penzias is an American physicist, radio astronomer and Nobel laureate in physics who is co-discoverer of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which helped establish the Big Bang ...more

24
Robert Woodrow Wilson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 82 Robert Woodrow Wilson is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation. The award purse was ...more

25
Schelte J. Bus is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 62 Schelte John "Bobby" Bus is an Associate Astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy and Support Astronomer at NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility IRTF. He received ...more

26
Benjamin Apthorp Gould is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 72 (1824-1896) Benjamin Apthorp Gould was a pioneering American astronomer. He is noted for creating the Astronomical Journal, discovering the Gould Belt, and for founding of the Argentine National Observatory ...more

27
Andrea M. Ghez is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 52 Andrea Mia Ghez is an American astronomer and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. In 2004, Discover magazine listed Ghez as one of the top 20 scientists in the United ...more

28
William Kenneth Hartmann is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 78 William Kenneth Hartmann is a noted planetary scientist, artist, author, and writer. He was the first to convince the scientific mainstream that the Earth had once been hit by a planet sized ...more

29
Henry E. Holt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Henry E. Holt age 89 Henry E. Holt is an American astronomer. He has discovered numerous asteroids, including 6312 Robheinlein, which he named after Robert Anson Heinlein. He is also a co-discoverer of periodic ...more

30
Percival Lowell is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 61 (1855-1916) Percival Lawrence Lowell was an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, ...more

31
Ira Sprague Bowen is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 75 (1898-1973) Ira Sprague Bowen was an American physicist and astronomer. In 1927 he discovered that nebulium was not really a chemical element but instead doubly ionized oxygen.

32
Eleanor F. Helin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 77 (1932-2009) Eleanor Key Francis "Glo" Helin was an American astronomer. She was principal investigator of the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She retired ...more

33
Seth Shostak is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 74 Seth Shostak is an American astronomer, currently Senior Astronomer and Director, Center for SETI research.

34
Solon Irving Bailey is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 77 (1854-1931) Solon Irving Bailey was an American astronomer who discovered the asteroid 504 Cora on June 30, 1902. He joined the staff of Harvard College Observatory in 1887. He received an M.A. from there ...more

35
Carolyn S. Shoemaker is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 86 Carolyn Jean Spellmann Shoemaker is an American astronomer and is a co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. She once held the record for most comets discovered by an individual.

36
Simon Newcomb is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 74 (1835-1909) Simon Newcomb was a Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician. Though he had little conventional schooling, he made important contributions to timekeeping as well as writing on economics ...more

37
Robert Kirshner is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 68 Robert Kirshner is the Clowes Professor of Science in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University. Kirshner has worked in several areas of astronomy including the ...more

38
William Duncan MacMillan is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 77 (1871-1948) William Duncan MacMillan was an American mathematician and astronomer. He was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin to D. D. MacMillan, who was in the lumber business, and Mary Jane MacCrea. He had a ...more

39
Maria Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 71 (1818-1889) Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer who, in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won a gold medal prize ...more

40
George Smoot is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 73 George Fitzgerald Smoot III is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, Nobel laureate, and one of two contestants to win the US$1 million prize on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?. He won the ...more

41
Amy Mainzer is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 44 Amy Mainzer is an American astronomer, specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and ...more

42
Tod R. Lauer is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 61 Tod R. Lauer is an American astronomer on the research staff of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. He was a member of the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera team, ...more

43
John Dobson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 99 (1915-2014) John Lowry Dobson was an amateur astronomer and is best known for the Dobsonian telescope, a portable, low-cost Newtonian reflector telescope. The design is considered revolutionary since it ...more

44
James Van Allen is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 92 (1914-2006) James Alfred Van Allen was an American space scientist at the University of Iowa. He was instrumental in establishing the field of magnetospheric research in space. The Van Allen radiation belts ...more

45
Edwin Brant Frost is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 69 (1866-1935) Edwin Brant Frost II was an American astronomer.

46
Walter Sydney Adams is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 80 (1876-1956) Walter Sydney Adams was an American astronomer.

47
John M. Grunsfeld is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
age 59 John Mace Grunsfeld is an American physicist and a former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of five Space Shuttle flights and has served as NASA Chief Scientist. His academic background includes ...more

48
Charles Augustus Young is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 74 (1834-1908) Charles Augustus Young one of the foremost solar spectroscopist astronomers in the United States, died of pneumonia after a brief illness, at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire, on 4 January ...more

49
J. Allen Hynek is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 76 (1910-1986) Dr. Josef Allen Hynek was a American astronomer, professor, and ufologist. He is perhaps best remembered for his UFO research. Hynek acted as scientific adviser to UFO studies undertaken by the ...more

50
Bruno Rossi is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Famous Astronomers from the United States
Died at 88 (1905-1993) Bruno Benedetto Rossi was an Italian experimental physicist. He made major contributions to particle physics and the study of cosmic rays. A 1927 graduate of the University of Bologna, he became ...more