Tom Gehrels

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Tom Gehrels (1974)

Tom Gehrels (born February 21, 1925 in Haarlemmermeer ; † July 11, 2011 in Tucson ) was a Dutch- born astronomer who had worked in the United States since 1961 at the University of Arizona .


He was involved in setting up the Spacewatch program to find near-earth asteroids ( NEO = Near Earth Object).

Gehrels discovered several comets , including 64P / Swift-Gehrels , 78P / Gehrels , 82P / Gehrels , and 90P / Gehrels .

He was also involved in the discovery of over 4,329 asteroids, including the Apollo asteroids (1864) Daedalus and (5011) Ptah , the Amorasteroid (4587) Rees , and several asteroids belonging to the Trojan group .

Gehrel's asteroid (1777) is named after him.

He made most of his later discoveries together with the astronomer couple Cornelis Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld as part of the Palomar-Leiden Survey . Here Gehrels made extensive images of the sky with the 48 '' - Schmidt camera of the Mount Palomar Observatory . The photographic plates were shipped to the Netherlands and analyzed at the University of Leiden to determine asteroids.

During the Second World War Gehrels was a member of the Dutch resistance.

Tom Gehrels is the father of Neil Gehrels .


  • On the Glassy Sea: An Astronomer's Journey , Tom Gehrels, ISBN 0-88318-598-9
  • A review of comet and asteroid statistics , Tom Gehrels, Earth Planets Space, 51, 1999 ( PDF )

Individual evidence

  1. Minor Planet Discoverers (Alphabetically) , Minor Planet Center list , accessed July 19, 2009