James L. Elliot

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For other persons with the same or similar names, see James Elliot (disambiguation).

James Ludlow Elliot (17 June 1943 – 3 March 2011) was an American astronomer and scientist who, as part of a team, discovered the rings around the planet Uranus.[1] Elliot was also part of a team that observed global warming on Triton, the largest moon of Neptune.[2][3]

Elliot was born in 1943 in Columbus, Ohio and received his S.B. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1965 and his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1972. He held a postdoctoral position in Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and joined the faculty of Cornell’s Astronomy Department in 1977. After he discovered Uranus's rings alongside Edward Dunham and Douglas Mink at Cornell, he returned to MIT in 1978 to serve as Professor of Physics, Professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and Director of the George R. Wallace, Jr. Astrophysical Observatory until his death on March 3, 2011.[4]

There is some debate on whether Elliot, et al. discovered the rings of Uranus, or whether William Herschel made an observation in 1797.[5] However, scientific consensus seems to support Elliot as the discoverer.[6]


  1. ^ Elliot, J.L.; E. Dunham; D. Mink (1977). "The Rings of Uranus". Nature 267 (5609): 328–330. Bibcode:1977Natur.267..328E. doi:10.1038/267328a0. 
  2. ^ HubbleSite - NewsCenter - Hubble Space Telescope Helps Find Evidence that Neptune's Largest Moon Is Warming Up (06/24/1998) - Release Text
  3. ^ Elliot, J. L., H. B. Hammel, L. H. Wasserman, O. G. Franz, S. W. McDonald, M. J. Person, C. B. Olkin, E. W. Dunham, J. R. Spencer, J. A. Stansberry, M. W. Buie, J. M. Pasachoff, B. A. Babcock, T. H. McConnochie, Global warming on Triton, Nature, 393, 765-767, 1998
  4. ^ EAPS, physics professor James Elliot dies at 67
  5. ^ Rincon, Paul (18 April 2007). "Uranus rings 'were seen in 1700s'". BBC News. 
  6. ^ "Did William Herschel Discover The Rings Of Uranus In The 18th Century?". Physorg.com. 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-20.