Tuesday, January 13, 2009 -
For immediate release
Sequim, Wa – Noted
astronomer Thomas C Van Flandern succumbed to colon cancer on January 9, 2009.
He graduated from Xavier University in 1962, briefly attended Georgetown
University in 1963 and received his PhD in astronomy from Yale in 1969,
specializing in celestial mechanics. Dr. Van Flandern's early work is well
regarded within his field, but he was more broadly (and controversially)
known for his later scientific contributions.
Fascinated with astronomy from a very young age, Dr. Van
Flandern made his first contribution to the field at age 19. In 1959, Tom and his
friend Dennis Smith (age 17) set the world record for number of artificial satellites
tracked during a month as part of project Moonwatch in Cincinnati. Tom
made his observation from his personal telescope purchased with money earned
from his paper route.
Dr. Van Flandern worked at the U.S. Naval Observatory for 21
years and became Chief of the Celestial Mechanics Branch of the Nautical
Almanac Office. His team contributed to the regular production of The Nautical
Almanac, among other projects. After retiring from the civil service, Van
Flandern served as a Research Associate at the University of Maryland Physics
Department, and as a Global Positioning System (GPS) consultant to the Army
In his book "Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets", Dr. Van Flandern
presented the case for several controversial theories, most notably that the
speed of gravity must propagate significantly faster than the speed of light;
both comets and asteroids are remnants of an exploded planet; back-ground radiation is not caused by an expanding universe and therefore the
big bang is invalid; Mars is an escaped moon of an exploded planet formerly
located in the asteroid belt; and that some structures on Mars are artificial.
Dr. Van Flandern successfully predicted the discovery of asteroids with
satellites, co-published peer reviewed papers on the speed of gravity with J.P.
Vigier, and collaborated with Esko Lyytinen in improving the model for
predicting meteor showers. Unfortunately detractors frequently use his claims of artificiality on Mars to marginalize
and his work.
Dr. Van Flandern founded Meta Research in 1991 in response to the broad
problem of getting research support for promising but unpopular alternative
ideas in astronomy. Meta Research publishes a quarterly journal and
maintains a presence on the Internet at metaresearch.org.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Van Flandern lived, worked and retired in
Washington DC with wife Barbara and their four children. He spent the
final years of his life in the Olympic peninsula town of
Chronology of Tom Van Flandern's illness:
For more information contact
Mike Van Flandern, 360-504-1169 (Sequim, WA),