Tom Polakis

Observer / Research Assistant

Planetary Science
BS Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University

Tom operates the 1.1-meter Hall Telescope with a NASA-funded CCD camera from dusk to dawn to measure variations in the brightness of asteroids as they rotate. He performs data reduction and analysis that is useful for determining their rotation rates, shapes, and compositions.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University in 1983, and had a 31-year career in the aircraft engine industry, mostly with Honeywell in Phoenix. A consummate amateur astronomer, he has had more than 50 articles published in Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines.  Before joining the staff of Lowell, he created lightcurves for more than 200 asteroids using observations from his backyard observatory. The results are published in 21 refereed papers for The Minor Planet Bulletin.

Tom’s website contains many still photos and time-lapse videos of astronomical interest.