Carolyn S. Shoemaker

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Carolyn S. Shoemaker
Carolyn Shoemaker.jpg
Born (1929-06-24) June 24, 1929 (age 86)
Gallup, New Mexico, United States
Citizenship American
Nationality American
Fields Astronomy
Institutions California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, California
Palomar Observatory, San Diego, California
Known for co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9
Notable awards James Craig Watson Medal (1998)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
Spouse Eugene Shoemaker

Carolyn Jean Spellmann Shoemaker (born June 24, 1929) is an American astronomer and is a co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.[1] She once held the record for most comets discovered by an individual.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Carolyn Jean Spellmann was born in Gallup, New Mexico, United States.[2] She is the widow of Eugene Shoemaker, a planetary scientist.[2]


Shoemaker started her astronomical career in 1980, searching for Earth-crossing asteroids and comets at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, and the Palomar Observatory, San Diego, California.[3]

In the 1980s and 1990s, Shoemaker used film taken at the wide-field telescope at the Palomar Observatory, combined with a stereoscope, to find objects which moved against the background of fixed stars.[2]

As of 2002, Shoemaker had discovered 32 comets and over 300 asteroids (counting the as-yet unnumbered ones).[2][3]


Shoemaker received an honorary doctorate from the Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1996.[2] She and her husband were awarded the James Craig Watson Medal by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1998.[4]

Asteroids discovered[edit]


  1. ^ Mestel, Rosie (9 July 1994). "Carolyn Shoemaker and 'Her Comet'". New Scientist 143 (1933). p. 23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Carolyn Shoemaker". Astrogeology Science Center. USGS. 
  3. ^ a b "She's Looking Out for Us". Explorer (American Association of Petroleum Geologists). May 2001. 
  4. ^ "James Craig Watson Medal". National Academy of Sciences. 

External links[edit]