Thomas Bopp

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Thomas Bopp
Born Thomas J. Bopp D.Sc
1949 (age 66–67)
Denver, Colorado, United States
Alma mater Youngstown State University
Occupation Astronomer

Thomas J. Bopp D.Sc (born 1949) is an American astronomer, best known as co-discoverer of Comet Hale–Bopp (with Alan Hale) in 1995.[1] He was a manager at a construction materials factory and an amateur astronomer at the time of the comet discovery. It was the first comet he had observed.

As Comet Hale-Bopp reached its brightest point, Thomas Bopp's brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car accident after photographing the comet. "This has been the best week of my life. And the worst," Bopp told a National Geographic reporter.[2] Another fatal car crash that occurred while the comet was visible without a telescope involved Gene Shoemaker and his wife Carolyn, both famous for co-discovering comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. Gene died in the crash and his ashes were sent to the Moon along with an image of the Hale-Bopp comet, "the last comet that the Shoemakers observed together".[3]

Bopp was born in Denver, Colorado, but later relocated with his family to Youngstown, Ohio, where he graduated from Chaney High School in 1967. He is a life member of the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society (MVAS) where he fell in love with the deep sky while observing with the club's 16 inch reflecting telescope. He attended Youngstown State University and has lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1980.[4]


  1. ^ Ramamurthy G. (August, 2005). Biographical Dictionary of Great Astronomers, Surah Books (pvt) Ltd., Chennai, ISBN 81-7478-697-X.
  2. ^ The Age of Comets, National Geographic, Dec 1997 (accessed 2016Aug1)
  3. ^ "Eugene Shoemaker Ashes Carried on Lunar Prospector". News Services, University of Arizona. 
  4. ^ Newcott, William R. (Dec. 1997). "The age of comets". National Geographic, p. 101.

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