John Huchra

John Peter Huchra (/ˈhʌkrə/ HUK-rə; December 23, 1948 – October 8, 2010[1]) was an American astronomer and professor. He was the Vice Provost for Research Policy at Harvard University and a Professor of Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.[2] He was also a former chair of the United States National Committee for the International Astronomical Union.[2] and past president of the American Astronomical Society.[3][4]

Huchra was born on December 23, 1948, in Jersey City, New Jersey, to a father who was a train conductor and a mother who was a housewife. He was raised in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey and graduated from Ridgefield Park High School as part of the class of 1966.[5] He developed an interest in reading books about cosmology and science fiction. He was a member of the wrestling team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1970 with a major in physics. He went on to the California Institute of Technology, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in astronomy. He took on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1976 and remained there for the rest of his career.[6]

Together with fellow astronomers Marc Aaronson and Jeremy Mould, Huchra announced that based on their analysis of the brightness and rotational speed of certain spiral galaxies that the universe was nine billion years old, half the age that most astronomers had previously thought.[6]

In 1986, Valérie de Lapparent, Margaret Geller and Huchra published the surprisingly non-uniform distribution of galaxies at scales of several tens of megaparsecs from early results of the CfA Redshift Survey.[7] De Lapparent, Geller and Huchra described the galaxy distribution as apparently lying on the "surfaces of bubble-like structures".[7] In 1989, using later results from their redshift survey, Geller and Huchra discovered the Great Wall, a structure measuring 600 million light years in length and 250 million light years in width.[8][9][10][11][12] This is the second largest known super-structure in the universe. Huchra is also the namesake of Huchra's Lens, the gravitational lensing galaxy in front of the Einstein Cross quasar.[13]


  1. ^ Obituary,
  2. ^ a b Welcome to John Huchra's Website, Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  3. ^ Kirshner, R. (2010). "John Huchra (1948–2010)". Nature. 468 (7321): 174. Bibcode:2010Natur.468..174K. doi:10.1038/468174a. PMID 21068817.
  4. ^ Moran, J. M. (2011). "John Peter Huchra". Physics Today. 64 (10): 66. Bibcode:2011PhT....64j..66M. doi:10.1063/PT.3.1305.
  5. ^ Dr. John P. Huchra, Class of 1966, Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School Alumni Foundation. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Dr. Huchra, after receiving his diploma at Ridgefield Park High School went on to receive his B.S. degree in Physics at M.I.T. in 1970, and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Cal Tech in 1976."
  6. ^ a b Overbye, Dennis. "John Huchra Dies at 61; Maps Altered Ideas on Universe", The New York Times, October 13, 2010. Accessed October 14, 2010.
  7. ^ a b De Lapparent, V.; Geller, M. J.; Huchra, J. P. (1986). "A slice of the universe". The Astrophysical Journal. 302: L1. Bibcode:1986ApJ...302L...1D. doi:10.1086/184625.
  8. ^ Frontline, Jan 1, 2010, "In 1989, Margaret Geller and John Huchra, on the basis of redshift survey data, discovered the presence of the Great (Galactic) Wall..."
  9. ^ Booth, William (November 18, 1989). "Vast Sheet of Galaxies Found In the Far Reaches of Space;'Great Wall' Largest Structure Detected in Universe".
  10. ^ "QUEST – Questions answered". The San Diego Union. September 11, 2002.
  11. ^ Charles Choi. That Wall in China Is Nothing, Science, 24 October 2003
  12. ^ Guth, Alan (1997). The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins - Alan H. Guth - Google Boeken. ISBN 9780201328400. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  13. ^ Harrington, Philip S. (2010-11-30). Cosmic Challenge: The Ultimate Observing List for Amateurs. Cambridge University Press. p. 421. ISBN 978-0-521-89936-9. Retrieved 2011-07-15.

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