Jonathan McDowell's Personal Home Page

This page badly needs updating; you probably want the page on my personal website instead:

I'm an astrophysicist with the Science Data Systems Planning Group, in the Chandra X-Ray Center. You can contact me at or
In addition to my day job I carry out research into the history of the space program, and used to write a monthly column for Sky and Telescope Magazine; I issue a monthly email-distributed newsletter, Jonathan's Space Report .
Also check out Jonathan's Space Homepage

Scientific Interests:

  • Quasar Energy Distributions project
  • Continuum emission from quasars and AGN
  • Dark matter
  • X-ray data analysis
  • Chandra X-ray Center (AXAF) documents

    Other Interests:

  • History of the space program
  • History of other things
  • Reading and writing
  • Political activism
  • Travel

    Eponymous minor planet: (4589) McDowell

    My first astronomy job came when I left high school and worked for six months at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, at that time located in Sussex. After a math degree at Churchill College, Cambridge and a summer job at Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, I began a Ph.D. at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge (the real Cambridge, I mean). This turned out to be a work of fiction about stars that never existed and predicted a submillimeter background radiation that was later discovered and shortly thereafter retracted. I decided it was time to work on things one could really observe, and went to do a postdoc at Jodrell Bank. After a brief flirtation with the microwave background I got interested in the physics of quasars and have been stuck trying to figure them out ever since. I came to CfA in 1988 as a postdoc, escaped to Huntsville, Alabama in 1991 but the lure of Harvard Square was too strong and I've been back here since 1992.

    For fun, take a look at The Observatory Pinafore