Who are the Black Astronomers & Astrophysicists?

Beth A. Brown

Arthur B.C. Walker

Neil deGrasse Tyson

From an article (in pdf) From Banneker to Best: Some Stellar Careers In Astronomy and Astrophysics, an article on Black Astronomers by Robert Fikes: Studying the alignment of nineteen megaliths near Kenya's Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley, a region inhabited by the ancient Cushites, archaeologists have concluded that, among other things, these basalt columns functioned as astronomical observation tools and that they were key to the plotting of the Borana Calendar circa 300 BC. This stellar-lunar calendar is still used today by the pastoral Borana people of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. And although acquisition of knowledge of the existence of the Sirius star-system by the Dogon people of Mali has been the topic of heated debate, pitting Afrocentric proponents against Eurocentric skeptics, the point that is usually overlooked is the vital importance of examining the heavens to pre-industrial societies from one end of the continent to the other who relied on the stars to determine seasonal cycles, timing of festivals and rituals, crop planting and harvesting, and mating intervals.

Today (2002) only 16 of the 3,302 PhD physicists at US National Labs are black. In these web pages we profile those modern astronomers of the african diaspora.

Astronomers, Astrophysicists, and Cosmologists


Faces of African Americans in Astronomy

National Society of Black Physicists

Black Physics & Astornomy Links

back to the main Physics page

Posters and Exihibiton: African Americans in Space Science


(click on links below for more)

Stephon Haigh-Solom Alexander - young mathematical cosmologist

Harvey Banks - first African American Ph.D. in Astronomy

Gibor Basri - Berkeley Professor on brown dwarfs is the most published African American Astronomer.

Jason Best - young astrophysicist

Beth Brown - NASA Astronomer

George Carruthers - principal inventor of the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph that accompanied the Apollo 16 mission

Chantale Damas -

Stanley Davis -

Aaron S. Evans - extremely active researcher (astronomy) at SUNY Stony Brook

Jarita Holbrook - Cultural astronomy: Contemporary and historical astronomical knowledge of Africa.

Lewis Johnson -

Robert B. Lee -

Ronald Mallett -

Jean Paul Mbelek - excellent research from Cameroons, living in France

Walter S. McAfee - on first team to bounce signal of the moon

Charles McGruder III - Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy at WKU

Windsor Morgan

Dara Norman - in Chile now

.Hakeem M. Oluseyi -

Ray O'Neal -

Benjamin F. Peery -

Arlie Petters - Duke University researcher on gravitational lensing and winner of the 2002 Blackwell-Tapia prize.

Derek Pitts - Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Programs Director, Senior Scientist Franklin Institute Science Museum

Mercedes Richards - Professor at the University of Virginia

Carl A. Rouse - particle physicist turned astronomer

Leonard Strachan, Jr. - astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Neil deGrasse Tyson - first rate astrophysics scholar - director of the Hayden Planetariun

Arthur BC Walker - famed solar physicist and x-ray astronomer. Chaired the presidential commission that investigated the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster.

Eric M. Wilcots -

Barbara A. Williams first Black American female Ph.D in Astronomy

Reva Williams - first Black American female Ph.D in Astrophysics

Alphonse Sterling - Solar Astronomer with Marshall Space Flight Center

Charles E. Woodward - astrophysicist


I dedicate this web site to two of my Physics teachers, Dr. Herman Branson and Dr. Julius Taylor.

I wish to thank three major contributors of information to this web site, Robert Fikes, Jr. of San Diego University and Dr. Hakeem M. Oluseyi of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Ronald E. Mickens of Atlanta University.


Further references:

Carwell., Blacks in Science: Astrophysicist to Zoologist. (Hicksville, N.Y.: Exposition Press), 1977

Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Lawrence Hill and Co., Westport. Presence Africaine, Paris, 1967.

Mickens, The African American Presence in Physics,.

Van Sertima, Blacks in Science, Transactions Books, 1983. p. 258-262.

posters on African Americans in Math and Science



More Black Physics Links


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Dr. Scott Williams, Professor of Mathematics
State University of New York at Buffalo

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