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Carolyn S. Shoemaker
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Carolyn Jean Spellmann

(1929-06-24)June 24, 1929
Died August 13, 2021(2021-08-13) (aged 92)
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Alma mater California State University, Chico
Known for co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9
Spouse(s) Eugene Shoemaker 1951–1997 (his death)
Awards James Craig Watson Medal (1998)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
Rittenhouse Medal (1988)
Scientist of the Year Award (1995)
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy
Institutions California Institute of Technology
Palomar Observatory, California

Carolyn Jean Spellmann Shoemaker (June 24, 1929 – August 13, 2021) was an American astronomer. She was a co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. She held the record for most comets discovered by a single person.

Personal life

Shoemaker was born Carolyn Jean Spellmann in Gallup, New Mexico, United States. She was the widow of Eugene Shoemaker, a planetary scientist. They were married from 1951 until his death in 1997.

Shoemaker died on August 13, 2021 in Flagstaff, Arizona at the age of 92.


Shoemaker started her astronomical career in 1980, searching for Earth-crossing asteroids and comets at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, and the Palomar Observatory, San Diego, California.

As of 2002, Shoemaker had discovered 32 comets and over 300 asteroids (counting the as-yet unnumbered ones).

Carolyn Shoemaker
Carolyn Shoemaker using a telescope
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