Distinguished Alumni

1996 – Carolyn S. Shoemaker

1949 BA History, 1950 MA Social Sciences

Carolyn S. ShoemakerCarolyn Spellman Shoemaker is the leading comet-discoverer of the twentieth century. She has achieved worldwide recognition in her field as a planetary astronomer with the discovery of 32 comets, more than twice as many as any other woman in the history of astronomy. She has been a visiting scientist at the Branch of Astrogeology at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona, since 1980. Shoemaker received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Northern Arizona University, where she is now a research professor of astronomy. She is also a staff member at Lowell Observatory. From 1981 through 1985 Shoemaker was a research assistant at California Institute of Technology. She has developed efficient stereoscopic and photographic techniques for use with the 46-cm Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory that have greatly facilitated the fast-moving asteroids. In addition to her well-known discovery (with husband, Eugene, and David Levy) of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which collided with Jupiter in July 1994, the Shoemakers have discovered more than 800 asteroids, the largest more than 125 km in diameter. Dr. Carolyn S. Shoemaker has received honors, including the Scientist of the Year by the ARCS Foundation and the 20th Anniversary International Women’s Year Award, Zonta International, and The Ninety-Nines.