Fred L. Whipple has been a scholar of cometary astronomy for five decades. He is now retired from his professorship in astronomy at Harvard University and from the directorship of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which he merged with the Harvard College Observatory and then has guided to international renown. He has written hundreds of scientific papers about meteors, comets, and the solar system at large.
Dr. Whipple has been awarded gold medals by the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Astronomical Society, the U.S. Air Force, President John F. Kennedy, and the Smithsonian Institution. These awards reognize his scientific research, his contribution to radar countermeasures during and after World War II, and his leadership in tracking satellites from stations around the world. The Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, has been named in his honor.