Astronomy and Horses

"I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in astronomy and horses," says Don Winget. Don is a professor of astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin.

"One of my most vivid early memories was watching a parade, after dark in Champagne, Illinois, where I grew up," he says. " I forgot all about the parade and lay on my back on the curb, wondering about those points of light on the sky."

Don says in his later school years, he and a friend went to monthly Open House nights at the University of Illinois. There, professor Stan Wyatt gave public lectures and also talked to Don about a career in astronomy. Dr. Wyatt advised Don to study physics in college, and that is what Don did.

Don received a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Illinois. He went on to receive a master's degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and a PhD in physics and astronomy from Rochester, as well.

Today, Don studies white dwarf stars, using them to study all different kinds of things. These include the physics of matter at high temperatures and densities, as well as the structure of galaxies, and the evolution of star populations in galaxies. He even looks for planets orbiting white dwarf stars, which would be the remnants of solar systems like our own, after its Sun had died.

Don has won many awards for his teaching at Texas, as well as several prizes for his scientific work, and he says McDonald Observatory is his "favorite spot on this Earth." He is a member of the University of Texas Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Don Winget
Harlan J. Smith Centennial Professor in Astronomy,
University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D., Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
M.A., Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
B.S., Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig