Margherita Hack

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Margherita Hack
Margherita Hack
Born (1922-06-12)12 June 1922
Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Died 29 June 2013(2013-06-29) (aged 91)
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Residence Italy
Nationality Italian
Fields Astrophysicist
Popular Science Writer
Institutions University of Trieste
Alma mater University of Florence
Notable awards Targa Giuseppe Piazzi (1994)
Premio Internazionale Cortina Ulisse (1995)

Margherita Hack, Dame Grand Cross OMRI (Italian: [marɡeˈriːta ak]; 12 June 1922 – 29 June 2013) was an Italian astrophysicist and popular science writer. The asteroid 8558 Hack, discovered in 1995, was named in her honour.[1]


Born in Florence, she graduated in physics from the University of Florence in 1945, with a thesis in astrophysics on Cepheid variables, after studies made in the Arcetri Observatory. She was full professor of astronomy from 1964 to 1997 at the University of Trieste before she retired in 1998.

She administered the Trieste Astronomical Observatory from 1964 to 1987.

She was a member of several physics and astronomy associations,[2] and was director of the Astronomy Department at the University of Trieste from 1985 to 1991 and from 1994 to 1997. She was a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei[3] and of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

In Italy, she was specially known for her anti-religious views and her continual criticism of the Catholic Church and of its hierarchy and institutions.[citation needed]

She was a vegetarian and has written a book explaining this choice entitled Perché sono vegetariana ("Why I Am A Vegetarian").

Hack died in Trieste on 29 June 2013 at the age of 91, after being hospitalized for a week for heart problems.[1] She had refused to have heart surgery.[4]

She left to the city of Trieste her personal library containing 24000 books on astronomy.

Awards and decorations[edit]

ITA OMRI 2001 GC BAR.svg Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic – awarded on 28 May 2012[5]
BenemeritiCultura1.png Gold Medal of the Italian Order of Merit for Culture and Art – awarded on 27 May 1998[6]


  1. ^ a b Italy’s 'lady of the stars' Margherita Hack dies at 91
  2. ^ International Astronomical Union, European Physical Society, Italian Astronomical Society, Italian Society of Physics
  3. ^ "Socio nazionale nella classe di scienze fisiche matematiche e naturali. Categoria seconda: astronomia, geodesia, geofisica e applicazioni; sezione A: Astronomia e applicazioni". Margherita Hack's profile on
  4. ^ Margherita Hack: «Sono malata ma non mi opero. Come va, va» (Italian)
  5. ^ "Presidential Awards". Quirinal Palace. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Presidential Awards". Quirinal Palace. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 

External links[edit]