James R. Houck

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James R. Houck
Born (1940-10-05)October 5, 1940
Mobile, Alabama
Died September 18, 2015(2015-09-18) (aged 74)
Ithaca, New York
Nationality United States
Fields Astrophysics
Institutions Cornell University
Alma mater Carnegie-Mellon University, Cornell University
Doctoral students Judith Pipher
Known for Key contributions to the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) and Spitzer Space Telescope missions
Notable awards NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1984 and 2005), Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation (2008)

James Richard Houck (October 5, 1940 – September 18, 2015) was the Kenneth A. Wallace Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University.[1][2][3]

Houck pioneered infrared observational astronomy, designing detectors and spectrographs that were flown on sounding rockets in the 1960s, on airborne observatories in the 1970s, and the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1984 and the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2003. He also led development of Cornell's instrumentation for the Palomar Observatory Hale Telescope.

Houck's research outside instrumentation has focused on the mechanisms responsible for energy generation in Ultraluminous Infrared Galaxies (ULIRGs), of which he was a discoverer using the IRAS satellite.[4][5] Houck has also studied the formation of dust in the early Universe.

He was married to Elaine, with whom he had two children, until her death in 2011.[6]



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ http://www.bangsfuneralhome.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=3312249&fh_id=14255
  3. ^ "James R. Houck, Cornell University". phdtree.org. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  4. ^ Houck, J. R.; Soifer, B. T.; Neugebauer, G.; Beichman, C. A.; Aumann, H. H.; Clegg, P. E.; Gillett, F. C.; Habing, H. J.; Hauser, M. G. (1984-03-01). "Unidentified point sources in the IRAS minisurvey". The Astrophysical Journal Letters 278: L63–L66. doi:10.1086/184224. ISSN 0004-637X. 
  5. ^ Houck, J. R.; Schneider, D. P.; Danielson, G. E.; Neugebauer, G.; Soifer, B. T.; Beichman, C. A.; Lonsdale, C. J. (1985-03-01). "Unidentified IRAS sources - Ultrahigh-luminosity galaxies". The Astrophysical Journal Letters 290: L5–L8. doi:10.1086/184431. ISSN 0004-637X. 
  6. ^ "Elaine V. Houck Obituary". Ithaca Journal (Legacy.com). April 16, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Houck celebrates NASA award with colleagues". Cornell University News Service (Cornell University). 
  8. ^ "Houck receives Weber award for career of instrument development". Cornell Chronicle (Cornell University).