Jean Mueller

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Jean Mueller was the first woman hired as a telescope operator at Palomar Observatory. Here she stands in front of the historic Samuel Oschin telescope (more detail visible here).
Asteroids discovered: 10
4257 Ubasti August 23, 1987
4558 Janesick[1] July 12, 1988
6569 Ondaatje June 22, 1993
9162 Kwiila July 29, 1987
(11028) 1987 UW October 18, 1987
11500 Tomaiyowit[2] October 28, 1989
12711 Tukmit January 19, 1991
16465 Basilrowe March 24, 1990
19204 Joshuatree June 21, 1992
24658 Misch October 18, 1987
(360191) 1988 TA[3] October 5, 1988
  1. 1 with Alain Maury
  2. 2 with J. D. Mendenhall
  3. 3 with Jeffrey L. Phinney

Jean Mueller (born 1950) is an American astronomer.

Working at Palomar Observatory, she has discovered a total of 15 comets, including 7 periodic comets 120P/Mueller, 131P/Mueller, 136P/Mueller, 149P/Mueller, 173P/Mueller, 188P/LINEAR-Mueller, 190P/Mueller, and 8 non-periodic comets.

She has also discovered 10 asteroids, including the Apollo asteroids 4257 Ubasti, (9162) Kwiila, and (12711) Tukmit and the Amor asteroid 6569 Ondaatje, and is the co-discoverer of two asteroids, 4558 Janesick and 11500 Tomaiyowit.

In 1983 Jean became the first woman to operate the historic 100-inch (2.5 m) telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, and was the first woman hired as a telescope operator at Palomar Observatory in 1985.

The Palomar Sky Survey II (POSS II) got underway in August 1985, with the first of the 14" photographic glass plates being pulled off the Palomar 48-inch (1.2 m) Schmidt Camera (now known as The Samuel Oschin telescope). Jean Mueller was hired as the 48-inch (1.2 m) Night Assistant in July of that year, and worked in the capacity as Observer/Telescope Operator for the duration. Jean took over 5500 photographic plates, and had the honor of setting the telescope and removing the very last plate from the historic Schmidt Camera on June 3, 2000, as well as discovering her very last supernova, 2000cm on that same night.

Jean spent hundreds of hours (in her spare time) scanning POSS II plates under high magnification looking for comets, fast-moving asteroids, and supernovae on an X/Y stage that held the 1 mm thick glass plates. Mueller would sometimes mark over a hundred galaxies recorded on a single POSS II plate to hunt for supernova candidates. She would then compare these plates with the first Palomar Sky Survey (POSS I) of similar fields. It was during the years of the POSS II project that Jean Mueller made all of her discoveries.

As of 2006, she has also discovered 98 (and co-discovered 9) supernovas, and may yet surpass Fritz Zwicky's all-time record of 120 discoveries (plus 1 co-discovery).[1]

Minor Planet 4031 Mueller was named in honor of Jean Mueller for her astronomical discoveries. Discovered on February 12, 1985 by Carolyn S. Shoemaker at Palomar Observatory with the 18" Schmidt Camera, it was originally designated 1985 CL.

Affiliations[edit]

Jean Mueller is an Advisor of the Meade 4M Community who supports her outreach activities.

References[edit]