Mike A'Hearn Endowed Lectureship
The Mike A'Hearn Endowed Lectureship is an annual prize lecture on the topic of planetary astronomy. In addition to highlighting recent developments in the field, this annual lecture is a wonderful way to remind the many colleagues and students inspired by Mike of his influence as a scientist and human being.
Michael "Mike" Francis A'Hearn (November 17, 1940 - May 29, 2017), a Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and prominent UMD faculty member, was a renowned cometary astronomer. He is perhaps most recognized for his work as principal investigator and project leader of the spacecraft mission, Deep Impact, which resulted in the close exploration of two comets. His interests and reputation were broad and went far beyond the cometary field. While UMD was his home, his reach encompassed the entire planetary astronomy community and the scientific community overall -- both nationally and internationally. He was a brilliant scientist, a respected and effective collaborator, an inclusive team leader, and a most encouraging mentor to countless undergraduate and graduate students as well as young scientists. His legacy in the scientific community is remarkable.
The Department of Astronomy is deeply grateful to alumnus Ralph Pass, '68, '72, Ph.D. '78 for establishing the Mike A'Hearn Endowed Lectureship in memory of Mike A'Hearn. Dr. Pass earned his doctorate in mathematics and worked on all the manned Apollo missions and other NASA projects. Pass credits Mike A’Hearn as one of the top influencers of his academic life.