David J. Tholen

David James Tholen is an American astronomer. He has his doctorate in 1984 at the University of Arizona.


He works at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawaii in the fields of planetary science and astronomy of the solar system. He has identified or co-discovered 1981-2006 a total of 37 asteroids.

In 1995, he created images of the newly discovered comet Hale- Bopp at a time when the comet relative to the stars in the background was moving very slowly. The result from the images captured with the red, green and yellow filters and composite to a color image sub-images was published on the website of the Institute for Astronomy. This image has been digitally altered from UFO fanatics, so it was an extra object in the vicinity of the comet, which was declared as alien spacecraft. After Tholen and his colleague Olivier R. Hainaut had demonstrated that it was only a manipulated version of one of her pictures, the picture was withdrawn. This clarification of the facts, however, was ignored by the Heaven's Gate cult. In March 1997, the mass suicide of 39 members of the group followed.

Awards and discoveries