Alan Hirshfeld - College of Engineering - Physics - 2018

Alan Hirshfeld






Science & Engineering 208B


1973Princeton UniversityB.S. in Astrophysics
1975Yale UniversityM.S. in Astronomy
1978Yale UniversityPh.D in Astronomy


  • Astronomy
  • Physics
  • Electronics
  • Science writing




Research Activities

  • Director of the UMass Dartmouth Observatory


Research Interests

  • History of science
  • History of astronomy
  • Astronomy & astrophysics

Select publications

  • Alan Hirshfeld (2020).
    Introduction to Star & Planets: An Activities-Based Exploration

  • Alan Hirshfeld (2014).
    Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe

  • Alan Hirshfeld (2013).
    Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos

Alan Hirshfeld is Professor of Physics and Director of the UMass Dartmouth Observatory and an Associate of the Harvard College Observatory. He received his undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Princeton University in 1973 and his Ph.D. in astronomy from Yale in 1978. He teaches a variety of courses in astronomy, physics, and electronics. His widely praised book, "Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos," published in 2002, chronicles the human stories involved in the centuries-long quest to measure the first distance to a star. His second book, "The Electric Life of Michael Faraday," published in 2006, describes the life and work of the 19th century scientist who developed the electric motor, electric generator, and many fundamental ideas about electricity, magnetism, and light. His 2009 book, "Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes," tells the tale of antiquity’s greatest scientist. Prof. Hirshfeld's "Astronomy Activity and Laboratory Manual," a collection of mathematical exercises for college astronomy courses, was published in 2009. His most recent book, "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe," was a finalist for the Boston Author's Club's 2016 Julia Ward Howe writing award. Prof. Hirshfeld has lectured nationwide about scientific history and discovery and is Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of the American Astronomical Society's Historical Astronomy Division. He is a regular science-book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal.

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