Celebrity Deaths

Donald Machholz Obituary

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Donald Edward Machholz, an American amateur astronomer who was the leading visual comet discoverer, credited with the visual discovery of 12 comets that bear his name has died. He was born on October 7, 1952 and died on August 9, 2022, aged 69.

Machholz died about a few months to his 70th birthday and he spent more than 9,000 hours comet-hunting in a career spanning over 50 years.

The comets he hunted include;

  • The periodic comets 96P/Machholz, 141P/Machholz,
  • The non-periodic C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) that were visible with binoculars in the northern sky in 2004 and 2005, C/2010 F4 (Machholz), and
  • C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto).
Donald Machholz
Donald Machholz
Image Source: Wikipedia

In 1985, comet Machholz 1985-e, was discovered using a homemade cardboard telescope with a wide aperture, 10 inches across, that gave it a broader field of view than most commercial telescopes.


Amateur astronomer Machholz utilized a variety of methods in his comet discoveries, in 1986 using 29×130 binoculars he discovered 96P/Machholz.

Machholz was one of the inventors of the Messier Marathon, which is a race to observe all the Messier objects in a single night.

Maccholz was also an author and he wrote three books;

  • The Observing Guide to the Messier Marathon: A Handbook and Atlas
  • Decade of Comets: A Study of the 33 Comets Discovered by Amateur Astronomers Between 1975 and 1984
  • An observer’s guide to comet Hale-Bopp: Making the most of Comet Hale-Bopp: when and where to observe Comet Hale-Bopp and what to look for

Maccholz leaves behind his wife, photojournalist Michele Machholz whom he married in 2014.

There’s no information on his children.

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