He was born in Arezzo and he has been former director of the Catania Observatory and an astronomer at Arcetri, Bologna, Asiago and Hamburg. He studied comets, variable stars, galaxies and the evolution of the universe. His studies of infrared astronomy led to the discovery of 2 galaxies, named Maffei 1 and Maffei 2, in his honor.
Maffei was well known as a writer of history of astronomy and popularizer of astronomy through a series of books, including the Al di là della Luna (1973) and I mostri del cielo (1976).
Asteroid 18426 Maffei is named for him.
- Al di là della Luna (1973)
- I mostri del cielo (1976)
- L'universo nel tempo (1982)
- La cometa di Halley: dal passato al presente (1984)
- Giuseppe Settele, il suo diario e la questione galileiana (1987)
- Autobiographic paper: P.Maffei, "My Researches at the Infrared Doors", Memorie della Società Astronomica Italiana, Vol. 74 n. 1, 2003, pag. 19-28 (PDF),
(from "IV National Conference on Infrared Astronomy, in honour of Paolo Maffei", Perugia, December 4–7, 2001).
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