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.

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 1 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Famous As: Astrophysicist
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

Carl Sagan
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist
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 J. Allen Hynek

J. Allen Hynek
Famous As: Astronomer, Ufologist
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.

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 4 Lawrence M. Krauss

Lawrence M. Krauss
Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Astrophysicist, Academic, Non-fiction writer, University teacher, Theoretical physicist
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.

 5 Amy Mainzer

Amy Mainzer
Famous As: Astronomer
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.

 6 Michael Foale

Michael Foale
Famous As: Astronaut, Astrophysicist, Physicist
Birthdate: January 6, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louth

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.

 7 Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter
Famous As: Astrophysicist
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.

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 8 Robert Hofstadter

Robert Hofstadter
Famous As: Physicist
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.

 9 Adam Riess

Adam Riess
Famous As: Professor
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.

 10 John C. Mather

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

 11 Lyman Spitzer

Lyman Spitzer
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Physicist, University teacher
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. 

 12 Robert H. Dicke

Robert H. Dicke
Famous As: Astronomer
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.

 13 Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.

Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr.
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
Birthdate: March 29, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 14 Alexei Filippenko

Alexei Filippenko
Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oakland

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.

 15 William Alfred Fowler

William Alfred Fowler
Famous As: Nuclear Physicist and Astrophysicist
Birthdate: August 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: March 14, 1995

 16 Andrew E. Lange

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

 17 John N. Bahcall

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

 18 Charles Greeley Abbot

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

 19 Lewis Morris Rutherfurd

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

 20 David Schramm

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

 21 James Edward Keeler

James Edward Keeler
Famous As: Astronomer
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.

 22 William Wilson Morgan

William Wilson Morgan
Famous As: Astronomer
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.

 23 Arthur Davidsen

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

 24 Jonathan Homer Lane

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