Astronomer Profile: Dr. Michael West, Deputy Director for Science

Note: Seven Lowell Observatory astronomers will participate in the 2017 Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience in Madras, Oregon on August 20-21. We will profile each in separate blogs. Today, we introduce Dr. Michael West.


Michael West earned his PhD from Yale University in 1987.

Research Interests

Dr. Michael West’s research interests include star clusters, galaxy formation and evolution, clusters of galaxies, and the large-scale structure of the universe. One of his more fascinating areas of study focuses on galaxies that are devoured by larger cousins—so-called cannibal galaxies. He has carried out research on every continent except Antarctica and served as director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, head of science in Chile for the European Southern Observatory, head of science operations at the Gemini South Observatory, and a tenured professor of astronomy at the University of Hawaii.

Michael-WestDr. West is also active in astronomy education and outreach. He served as chief astronomy advisor for the ‘Imoloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, a $28 million facility that weaves together astronomy and Hawaiian culture into a compelling story of human exploration.

Dr. West is a gifted writer whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and other publications. His most recent book, A Sky Wonderful with Stars: 50 Years of Modern Astronomy on Maunakea, has been nominated for the 2017 Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards that recognize “Hawaii’s finest books and their authors.”

Fun Fact

Dr. West has both Canadian and American citizenship, and says he can name all 13 provinces and territories, in addition to all 50 states, without ever once using the word “eh.”

Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience Presentation

Date: Monday, August 21, 1 p.m.

Title: Guided by the Night: Do Animals See the Stars?

Description: Humans aren’t the only animals that look to the heavens. Some animals use the stars to

guide their migrations. Others use them to find food. And some animals can’t see them at all.

By Kevin Schindler, Lowell Observatory Historian

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