Donald Machholz

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Donald Machholz
Born Donald Edward Machholz
(1952-10-07) October 7, 1952 (age 62)
Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Occupation Amateur Astronomer
Years active 1960–present
Spouse(s) Michele AnneLouise Machholz

Donald Edward Machholz, born October 7, 1952 in Portsmouth, Virginia, is an American amateur astronomer living in Colfax, California.

He is the most successful living visual comet hunter in the world, being credited with the discovery of 11 comets, including the periodic comets 96P/Machholz, 141P/Machholz, the non-periodic C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) that was easily visible in binoculars in the northern sky in 2004 and 2005, and most recently, C/2010 F4 (Machholz).[1][2] In 1985, comet Machholz 1985-e, was discovered using a homemade cardboard telescope with a wide aperture, 10 inches across, that gave it a broader field of view than most commercial telescopes.[3] Amateur astronomer Machholz utilizes a variety of methods in his comet discoveries, in 1986 using 29×130 binoculars he discovered 96P/Machholz. [4]

Machholz is also considered to be one of the inventors of the Messier marathon, which is a race to observe all the Messier objects in a single night.



  • The Observing Guide to the Messier Marathon: A Handbook and Atlas
  • Decade of Comets: A Study of the 33 Comets Discovered by Amateur Astronomers Between 1975 and 1984
  • An observer's guide to comet Hale-Bopp: Making the most of Comet Hale-Bopp : when and where to observe Comet Hale-Bopp and what to look for

Personal Life[edit]

Late 2014 he married photojournalist and screenwriter, Michele AnneLouise Machholz, and they share three sons.


  1. ^ Gus Thomson (March 30, 2010). "Patience leads to new comet discovery by Colfax amateur astronomer". Auburn Journal. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ Roger W. Sinnott (March 27, 2010). "New Comet Machholz". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ Associated Press (June 16, 1985). "Amateur Astronomer Nails Down His Second Comet". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 16, 1985.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ Alan MacRobert (December 2, 2008). "A Very Oddball Comet". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 

External links[edit]