E. Myles Standish, Wesleyan Astronomy MA ’62 Receives Distinguished Alumni Award

E. Myles Standish Jr. ’60, MA ’62

[E. Myles Standish Jr. ’60, MA ’62 ]

Myles Standish, a Mathematics major and Astronomy MA graduate spent most of his professional career at the California Institute of Technology’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), creating and continually improving high-precision planetary ephemerides (orbital positions) vital to the successful navigation of planetary spacecraft. Those ephemerides are now the world’s standard, providing data to virtually all of the national almanac offices, astronomical researchers, and observatories.

A recognized leader in his field, Dr. Standish has been chairman of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy (AAS/DDA) and president of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission 4 (Ephemerides). He received the AAS/DDA Brouwer Award in 2000 and NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2008. Asteroid “3420 Standish” is named in his honor.

Dr. Standish maintains that Wesleyan pointed him toward mathematical astronomy when its first computer was squeezed through the basement window of Van Vleck Observatory. He followed bachelor’s and master’s degrees here with a PhD at Yale University.

Father of three sons, Dr. Standish later volunteered for 25 years with the American Youth Soccer Organization as a game scheduler, regional commissioner, chief referee, and coach. In recognition of his contributions, the city of Pasadena hosts the annual Myles Standish Thanksgiving Tournament. He also was an active member of the local YMCA and of his sons’ high school booster club.

Dr. Standish is now retired and lives with his wife on the shore of Lake Keowee in South Carolina. He is involved with community affairs and gives lectures on a wide variety of topics through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University. He also continues to referee professional papers, answer questions on astronomy, and fulfill computing requests from astronomers around the world.

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