Don Machholz – Astroniklas

Image courtesy of Swedish astrophotographer Lasse Lindh


Don Machholz left us on August 9th, 2022

Unfortunately, with big sadness I just found out that one of our members is no longer among us. This is what Don Machholz’s wife announced on Don’s Facebook page:

It is with profound sadness that I share with everyone that my beloved husband, Don Machholz, passed away unexpectedly and swiftly from COVID at 3:15 AM on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. He was a very kind, gentle and loving soul, we love each other from the moon and back.

Don was a world famous comet hunter. He discovered as many as 12 comets during his lifetime and never gave up his passion. Until very recently Don would continue his comet hunting though visual observation.

Don spent more than 9,000 hours comet-hunting in a career spanning over 50 years. These comets 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). 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. Don utilized a variety of methods in his comet discoveries, in 1986 using 29×130 binoculars he discovered 96P/Machholz.

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

Image courtesy of Swedish astrophotographer Lasse Lindh
Image courtesy of Swedish astrophotographer Lasse Lindh

The fascination of star gazing had already started during the very first years of my childhood. I was looking up at the night sky with my grandfather every summer night, studying constellations, the phases of the moon cycle, counting satellite passages and by using his binoculars to discover globular clusters of stars. Equipped with star maps from his home-library I was gradually discovering more and more of this fascinating world we call universe.
Even though years went by, the interest and fascination of cosmos had never left me… I found myself occupied with many other things before astronomy finally became my main hobby in recent years.

I was born in Stockholm, Sweden 1979 and grew for the most part of my childhood years in Greece. Later I’ve studied physics at Lund’s university and was hoping to continue with astronomy. At my free time I was an active amateur astronomer in South Sweden, Lund. At some point I was also appointed as chief of observatory for the Tycho Brahe Astronomy Society in Lund.

Circumstances in life led me to move with my family to California. Today I’m working as a sofrware developer within the aviation industry and weather systems for airports. During my off-time, I spend most of my time with my wife Melissa and our daughters.

My main hobbies are astronomy, astrophotography, game development and I was also a member of several astronomy societies in south Sweden but time was never enough to continue being an active member.

This blog is dedicated to my family (Melissa, Vanita and Lena Grace), our friends and to all of you who share the same fascination towards the beauty of this science and all the mysteries yet to be revealed by our constant discoveries!


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