Famous American Astrophysicists

Does the ambiguity of the universe excite you? Do you find yourself glued to programs that give information about the universe, solar system, comets and stars? Is sky-gazing your favourite pastime? Do you often wonder about unrevealing the complexities of the universe on your own? Are you a frequent visitor of your city’s planetarium? If your answer to all the aforementioned questions is a vibrant yes, you surely can think of becoming an astrophysicist. Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that deals with determining or establishing the nature of heavenly bodies. Now that people are aware of the position or motion of major heavenly bodies in space, it is their nature that beckons many. America has been the address of numerous astrophysicists who have contributed highly to this branch of astronomy. To begin with, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the biggest names when it comes to discussing American astrophysicists. He founded the department of astrophysics in the American Museum of Natural History in 1997 and has been serving as the research associate till date. Other important astrophysicists from America include, Charles Greeley Abbot, Robert Hofstadter, William Fowler and so on. Find out in details about the life and career of famous American astrophysicists.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Astrophysicists

 1 
Neil deGrasse Tyson
(Astrophysicist)

Neil deGrasse Tyson
31
Birthdate: October 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”

 2 
Carl Sagan
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Carl Sagan
13
Birthdate: November 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: December 20, 1996
Pulitzer- and Emmy-winning astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan was best known for co-writing the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. His novel Contact was adapted into a film. He was known for his extensive research on extra-terrestrial life, had taught at major universities, and written countless papers and science books.

 3 
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
(Astrophysicist Known for his 'Theoritical Studies of the Physical processes of importance to the Structure and Evolution of the Stars')

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
6
Birthdate: October 19, 1910
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lahore, Pakistan
Died: August 21, 1995

Remembered for his varied contribution to astrophysics, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is perhaps best known for his work on the evolution of massive stars. Today known as Chandrasekhar limit, it contributed to final understanding of supernovas, neutron stars, and black holes. A prolific writer, he also did significant work on energy transfer by radiation in stellar atmospheres and convection on solar surface.

Recommended Lists:

 4 
J. Allen Hynek
(Astronomer, Ufologist)

J. Allen Hynek
6
Birthdate: May 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: April 27, 1986

When the American government, baffled by unexplained sightings of flying objects, assigned J. Allen Hynek the task of solving the mystery, Hynek was sceptical. However, he later became the first person to scientifically analyze such sightings. He also established the "Close Encounter" classification system to study UFOs.

 5 
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

 6 
Max Tegmark
(Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist)

Max Tegmark
5
Birthdate: May 5, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sweden

Born to math professor Harold S. Shapiro, Max Tegmark grew up to co-establish the Future of Life Institute, with funding from Elon Musk. The MIT professor is a specialist in cosmology, physics, and machine learning and had also penned a book on artificial intelligence, titled Life 3.0.

 7 
Lawrence M. Krauss
(Astronomer, Physicist, Astrophysicist, Academic, Non-fiction writer, University teacher, Theoretical physicist)

Lawrence M. Krauss
5
Birthdate: May 27, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

American-Canadian theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss has taught at institutes such as ASU and Yale and also penned several bestselling books. Known for his research on dark energy and zero-energy states, he was later accused of sexual misconduct and thus lost the directorship of the ASU’s Origins Project.

You May Like

 8 
Amy Mainzer
(Astronomer)

Amy Mainzer
5
Birthdate: January 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mansfield, Ohio, United States

Astronomer Amy Mainzer has been associated with NASA's NEOWISE mission and specializes in asteroid detection. The Stanford and Caltech alumna now teaches at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona and has also appeared on the History Channel series The Universe and in several documentaries.

 9 
Michael Foale
(Only NASA Astronaut to have Flown Extended Missions Aboard both Mir & The International Space Station)

Michael Foale
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louth, Lincolnshire, England

The first British astronaut to perform a space-walk, Michael Foale was also the only NASA astronaut to be on missions aboard both the Mir and the International Space Station. Born to a Royal Air Force pilot father, he was well-traveled. He was the only survivor of a car accident in Yugoslavia.

 10 
Rainer Weiss
(Physicist)

Rainer Weiss
5
Birthdate: September 29, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

Born to a doctor and psychoanalyst father and an actor mother in Berlin, physicist Rainer Weiss fled to the US along with his family, to avoid the Nazi terror. Associated with institutes such as MIT and Princeton, he invented the laser interferometric technique used in LIGO and even won a Nobel Prize later.

 11 
Brian Schmidt
(Vice-Chancellor)

Brian Schmidt
5
Birthdate: February 24, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

Nobel Prize-winning astronomer Brian Schmidt is best known for discovering what is known as dark energy of the universe. Born in the US, the Harvard alumnus later moved to Australia for his work. He has taught at the Australian National University and is now the university’s vice chancellor.

 12 
Saul Perlmutter
(Astrophysicist)

Saul Perlmutter
5
Birthdate: September 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Champaign-Urbana Metropolitan Statistical Area

Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter has been associated with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. Born to a chemical engineering professor, Perlmutter grew up to co-discover the accelerating expansion of the Universe and later introduced innovative Berkeley courses such as Physics & Music.

 13 
John C. Mather
(Astrophysicist)

John C. Mather
4
Birthdate: August 7, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia, United States

 14 
Jacob Bekenstein
(Theoretical Physicist Known for His Contributions to the Foundation of 'Black Hole Thermodynamics')

Jacob Bekenstein
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
Died: August 16, 2015

Jacob Bekenstein was born to Polish Jew immigrant parents in Mexico. The Rothschild Prize-winning physicist later also gained both American and Israeli citizenships. He is best remembered for his discovery of thermodynamic properties in black holes. The Princeton alumnus and Technion professor was also quite a religious man.

 15 
Adam Riess
(Professor)

Adam Riess
2
Birthdate: December 16, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Adam Guy Riess is an American astrophysicist, known for his work on Type Ia supernovae. Teaming up with Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt, he started working on the supernovae, using it as cosmological probe, eventually discovering that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work.

 16 

Robert Hofstadter
2
Birthdate: February 5, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 17, 1990

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Hofstadter is remembered for his path-breaking research on the structures of the particles of the atomic nuclei, such as protons and neutrons. The Princeton alumnus initially worked with the National Bureau of Standards, where he developed the proximity fuse, and then taught at Princeton and Stanford.

 17 
Thomas Gold
(Professor)

Thomas Gold
2
Birthdate: May 22, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 22, 2004

Austrian-born astrophysicist Thomas Gold is best-remembered for proposing the steady state theory of the universe and for his deep gas hypothesis through which he re-defined the abiogenic hypothesis and made it popular in the West. He served as professor of astronomy at Cornell University and remained a member of National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 18 
Lyman Spitzer
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Physicist, University teacher)

Lyman Spitzer
2
Birthdate: June 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toledo
Died: March 31, 1997

Lyman Spitzer was an American theoretical physicist, mountaineer, and astronomer. He was known for his research into star formation and plasma physics. He is credited with the invention of the stellarator plasma device and he was the one who first conceived the idea of telescopes operating in outer space. He was a founding member of the World Cultural Council. 

 19 
Margaret Burbidge
(Astrophysicist)

Margaret Burbidge
2
Birthdate: August 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Davenport,England

Margaret Burbidge was a British-American observational astronomer and astrophysicist. She was the first author of the influential B2FH paper and one of the founders of stellar nucleosynthesis. She held several leadership and administrative posts and was well known for her work opposing discrimination against women in astronomy. In 1988, she was awarded the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. 

 20 
Robert H. Dicke
(Astronomer)

Robert H. Dicke
2
Birthdate: May 6, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: March 4, 1997

American astronomer and Princeton University physicist Robert H. Dicke is best known for making significant contributions in the fields of atomic physics, astrophysics, gravity and cosmology. He designed and introduced the Dicke radiometer, the most common form of microwave radiometer; developed the Brans–Dicke theory of gravitation with Carl H. Brans; and is generally believed to have invented the lock-in amplifier.

 21 
Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
(Astrophysicist)

Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
2
Birthdate: March 29, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 22 
Alexei Filippenko
(Known for Studies of Supernovae, Active Galaxies, Black Holes, Accelerating Expansion of the Universe)

Alexei Filippenko
2
Birthdate: July 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

Renowned astrophysicist Alexei Filippenko, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, is primarily focused on supernovae and galaxies. Apart from writing 900 research papers, he has also penned a bestselling book and appeared on programs such as The Universe. He loves tennis and often travels to view solar eclipses.

 23 
William Alfred Fowler
(Nuclear Physicist and Astrophysicist)

William Alfred Fowler
2
Birthdate: August 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 14, 1995

 24 
Andrew E. Lange
(Astrophysicist)

Andrew E. Lange
2
Birthdate: July 23, 1957
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Urbana, Illinois, United States
Died: January 22, 2010

 25 
Martin Schwarzschild
(Astrophysicist)

Martin Schwarzschild
2
Birthdate: May 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: April 10, 1997

Martin Schwarzschild was a German-American astrophysicist best remembered for his work in the fields of stellar evolution and stellar structure, which paved the way to an improved understanding of differential solar rotation, pulsating stars, hydrogen shell sources, the ages of star clusters, and the helium flash. In 1997, Martin Schwarzschild was honored with the prestigious National Medal of Science. 

 26 
John N. Bahcall
(Astrophysicist)

John N. Bahcall
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 17, 2005

 27 
Charles Greeley Abbot
(Astrophysicist)

Charles Greeley Abbot
1
Birthdate: May 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wilton
Died: December 17, 1973

 28 
Edwin Ernest Salpeter
(Astrophysicist)

Edwin Ernest Salpeter
1
Birthdate: December 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 26, 2008

 29 
Lewis Morris Rutherfurd
(Astrophysicist)

Lewis Morris Rutherfurd
1
Birthdate: November 25, 1816
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Morrisania, New York, United States
Died: May 30, 1892

 30 
David Schramm
(Educator)

David Schramm
1
Birthdate: October 25, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: December 19, 1997

 31 

James Edward Keeler
1
Birthdate: September 10, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: La Salle, Illinois, United States
Died: August 12, 1900

James Edward Keeler initially worked at the Lick Observatory and later proved that the rings of Saturn aren’t solid but are made of tiny particles. He used the reflecting telescope for his astrophotography projects. He had also been the director of the Allegheny Observatory and had co-founded Astrophysical Journal.

 32 

William Wilson Morgan
1
Birthdate: January 3, 1906
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bethesda, Tennessee, United States
Died: June 21, 1994

Mostly known for his life-long association with the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory, astronomer William Wilson Morgan was the first to prove that the Milky Way has spiral arms. Apart from co-developing the MK system of classification of stars, he also co-established the Bautz-Morgan classification system for clusters.

 33 
Gerson Goldhaber
(Physicist)

Gerson Goldhaber
0
Birthdate: February 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chemnitz, Germany
Died: July 19, 2010

Particle physicist Gerson Goldhaber is best remembered for discovering charm hadrons and dark energy. The son of German parents who had escaped the Nazis and started a tour guide service in Egypt, Goldhaber later moved to the US for research and gained a US citizenship, too.

 34 
Arthur Davidsen
(Astrophysicist)

Arthur Davidsen
0
Birthdate: May 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Freeport, New York
Died: July 19, 2001

 35 

Jonathan Homer Lane
0
Birthdate: August 9, 1819
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Geneseo, New York, United States
Died: May 3, 1880