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Explore Alliance Ambassadors - Rick Nolthenius

Explore Alliance Ambassador - Rick Nolthenius

Cabrillo College 

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Born in the summer of 1963 in Southern California, the fascination with astronomy for Richard Nolthenius sparked from a newspaper blurb about a solar eclipse. The precision of celestial calculations captivated the young mind, contrasting with the perceived unpredictability of people. Delving into amateur astronomy, joining the AAVSO, measuring variable star brightnesses, and studying comets, Nolthenius embraced the enigmatic night sky.

High school ushered in a new level of astronomical excitement with lunar occultations, creating lasting memories of desert adventures. College beckoned, and after an initial foray into architecture, Nolthenius pursued mathematics and physics. During this time, he supported himself through various jobs, including an engineering co-op stint and a union job at B.F. Goodrich.

Graduating with Honors, Nolthenius moved to the University of Arizona for his master's in Mechanical Engineering, focusing on fluid dynamics and turbulence simulations. After briefly considering an offer in the oil industry, he chose the aerospace sector and started work in San Diego.

However, astronomy's call persisted, leading Nolthenius to pursue a Ph.D. in Astronomy. Despite starting at Stanford, he later transferred to UCLA to complete his doctoral research. His Ph.D. journey involved diverse research, from smoothed particle hydrodynamics to chaos theory and dynamics of galaxies.

Post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona reignited Nolthenius's love for Tucson and provided an avenue into the burgeoning sport of triathlon. Throughout his career, Nolthenius secured time on prestigious telescopes, advancing his research.

In 1986, faced with a crucial decision between a lucrative engineering opportunity and a teaching position at Cabrillo College, Nolthenius chose his passion for astronomy and education. He became an esteemed astronomy instructor, blending research and teaching. In recent years, his focus shifted to climate science and climate change, recognizing its paramount importance. Sharing hard-core scientific knowledge and communicating with honesty remain his enduring goals, offering a lifetime of wisdom to share.

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