Riccardo Giacconi and the Uhuru satellite, undated. Courtesy of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

In Memoriam: Riccardo Giacconi (1931–2018)

The Smithsonian Institution Archives remembers Riccardo Giacconi (1931–2018)

The Smithsonian Archives is saddened to learn of the death of 2002 Nobel laureate in Physics, astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi. Among Giacconi's numerous accomplishments is his creation of X-ray astronomy.

A man leans against a machine. A poster of space is in the background.

While at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Giacconi served as Director of the High Energy Astrophysics Division from 1973 to 1981. He oversaw the conception, fabrication, and design of the Einstein Observatory, preparation of the software and hardware for data reduction for the Einstein, and the establishment and implementation of the Guest Observer Program.

The Smithsonian Institution Archives is the official repository for Riccardo Giacconi's personal papers. These papers document Giacconi's scientific career and illustrate his scientific work and administrative records relating to the institutions at which he worked. There is extensive documentation of Giacconi's professional activities, including meetings attended, papers presented (and published), his services as officer or board member of professional societies; grants, proposals, and contracts, mainly with NASA; correspondence with colleagues; slides and photographs of many facilities with which Giacconi was associated; news clippings and press releases; and appointment books and journals.

The Archives also holds an oral history of Giacconi. David H. DeVorkin, a curator in the Department of Astronautics at National Air and Space Museum, conducted a videotaped interview of Dr. Giacconi after a symposium in Giacconi’s honor, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and sponsored by its Lemelson Center, on January 22, 2004. In the interview, he discussed his education, research, and career in astrophysics, including his work at the Smithsonian, Project Starfish, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

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