Jay M. Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, where he teaches the astronomy survey course and works with undergraduate students on a variety of astronomical research projects. He is also Director of the Hopkins Observatory there. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard and was at the California Institute of Technology, where he has also had recent sabbatical leaves, before going to Williams College.
Pasachoff pioneered the emphasis in textbooks on contemporary astronomy alongside the traditional bases. He has taken advantage of his broad experience with a wide variety of ground-based telescopes and spacecraft in writing his texts. Also, “For his eloquent and informative writing of textbooks…, For his devotion to teaching generations of students, For sharing with the world the joys of observing eclipses, For his many popular books and articles on astronomy, For his intense advocacy on behalf of science education in various forums, For his willingness to go into educational nooks where no astronomer has gone before,” he received the American Astronomical Society’s 2003 Education Prize.
Pasachoff’s expedition with students to the 2015 total solar eclipse was his 61st solar eclipse. He has also been carrying out research on transits of Venus and of Mercury. His research has recently been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Geographic Society. He is Chair of the Working Group on Eclipses of the solar division of the International Astronomical Union and Chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Historical Astronomy Division. He is collaborating with colleagues to observe occultations of stars by Pluto, its largest moon (Charon), and other objects in the outer parts of the Solar System. He also works in radio astronomy of the solar atmosphere and of the interstellar medium, concentrating on deuterium and its cosmological consequences.
Pasachoff has been President of the Commission on Education and Development of the International Astronomical Union and twice Chair of the Astronomy Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is co-editor of Teaching and Learning Astronomy: Effective Strategies for Educators Worldwide (2005) and of Innovation in Astronomy Education (2008). Asteroid (5100) Pasachoff is named for him. He received the 2012 Janssen Prize from the Société Astronomique de France.
Alex Filippenko is a Professor of Astronomy, and the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, at the University of California, Berkeley. His teaching of an astronomy survey course is very popular on campus; he has won the most coveted teaching awards at Berkeley and has nine times been voted “Best Professor” on campus. In 2006, he was named the U.S. National Professor of the Year. In 2010, he won the Emmons Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for excellence in college astronomy teaching. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology.
Filippenko has produced five video courses on college-level astronomy through The Great Courses. The recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization, he lectures widely, and he has appeared frequently on science newscasts and television documentaries, especially The Universe series on The History Channel and H2 (about 40 episodes spanning 6 seasons).
Filippenko’s primary areas of observational research are exploding stars (supernovae), gamma-ray bursts, active galaxies, black holes, and observational cosmology; he frequently uses the Hubble Space Telescope, the Keck 10-meter telescopes, and other facilities. He and his collaborators have obtained some of the best evidence for the existence of stellar-mass black holes in our Milky Way Galaxy. His robotic telescope at Lick Observatory, together with a large team that includes many undergraduate students, is conducting one of the world’s most successful searches for exploding stars in relatively nearby galaxies, having found more than 1,000 of them. He made major contributions to both of the teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe, and the team leaders received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. One of the world’s most highly cited astronomers, his research has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has served as a Councilor of the American Astronomical Society and has been Vice President and President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He is an active member of the International Astronomical Union.