Joel Weisberg

Herman and Gertrude Mosier Stark Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Natural Sciences at Carleton College, Emeritus

Email: jweisber at

Office Hours: By appointment

Photo of Joel and his door

One dark, moonless night in 1985, Michael C., Molly M., and Tara O. snuck into Goodsell and painted Joel's office door. Unfortunately Joel had to abandon that office and its door about ten years later.

Photo of Joel on the 16-inch Brashear Telescope at Carleton's Goodsell Observatory, June 2012

Joel using Goodsell Observatory's Brashear 16-inch refractor to observe a rare transit of venus in 2011.


Joel and students at Arecibo Cotrol Room

Joel and students Ayaka M., Helen D., and Sparrow R. observing a pulsar and pointing the giant Arecibo radiotelescope from the Observatory's Control Room. Many other images of Joel and students at observing at major radiotelescopes can be found below at the Students at Observatories page.

Photo of Joel outside Carleton's Goodsell Observatory

Joel standing outside Goodsell Observatory in typical Minnesota weather (clear and cold!).


C. V.

Publications (A few are available at the bottom of the page you are currently looking at)

I am Herman and Gertrude Mosier Stark Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Natural Sciences at Carleton College, Emeritus. I came to Carleton in 1984 and found this position to be my dream job because of inspiring students and outstanding colleagues. Until my retirement after the 2018-19 school year, I taught astronomy and astrophysics approximately two-thirds time; physics, approximately one-third; with an occasional science and public policy course mixed in.

Life and education before Carleton:

I began my astronomy interest at a young age. My first public astronomy lectures were in high school under the New Mexico stars. I began my pulsar research at MIT and Arecibo Observatory in 1971, and I received an SB in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1972. I received an MS in Astronomy in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Physics in 1978, both from Iowa. I was in residence at Arecibo Observatory for 1 1/2 years to gather data for my dissertation. I then spent three years as a postdoctoral research associate in radio astronomy at the University of Massachusetts and three years as Assistant Professor of Physics at Princeton before coming to Carleton.

Life after Carleton? Joel's retirement party (JoelFest), October 2018:

Members and Alums of the Department and of the College cooperated to throw a retirement party in Joel's honor, 8 months before the deed itself. Some say it was a message . . . Here is the JoelFest link.


The astrophysical research interests that I share with my students include radio astronomy, pulsars, gravitation, and the interstellar medium. My students and I gather our data at the Arecibo, Green Bank, Very Large Array, and Parkes (Australia) Radio Observatories. (For images of our trips to them, see the "Students at Observatories" link under the "Our Trips to Observatories and Meetings" heading below.)

A description of my research on The First Binary Pulsar and Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

I have co-authored over sixty scientific papers in refereed journals, including Nature, Science, Physical Review Letters, Astrophysical Journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Astronomical Journal. I co-authored an October, 1981 Scientific American article on the Binary Pulsar and Gravitational Radiation, a principal focus of my research career. I have received eight major research grants from the National Science Foundation and one from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Discovery of a pulsar-powered, pulsed, interstellar maser: You may directly view the abstract, or download here,* a pdf of the full 2005 Science article on our discovery of  a pulsed  interstellar maser powered by pulsar B1641-45.

The cover etching on a geostationary satellite artifact: Artist Trevor Paglen and I wrote a scientific article in Astronomical Journal about the messages on the cover of an artifact attached to a geostationary satellite. You may download a pdf of the article, which includes a detailed drawing of the artifact cover, here.*


*The article will download to a folder selected by your browser settings. 

Our Trips to Observatories and Meetings:

See some of my students at the US and Australian telescopes on the Students at Observatories page.

See some Carleton students and my family and me on the Astronomical Meetings page.

Go to the Carleton College Radio Astronomy Observatory page to find out about the establishment of our observatory in the Sogn Valley, MN.

Alumni Trips:

On the 1991 Baja Eclipse Trip page, see photos of alums and friends on the beach for the eclipse in July, 1991.

The 1994 New Mexico and Arizona Alumni Trip page has pictures of a camping trip I led through the Southwest in 1994.

The 2003 Chaco Canyon, NM Alumni Trip page has pictures of an archaeoastronomy trip to this Anasazi site.

The 2009 Utah Alumni Trip page has pictures of a camping, rafting, and stargazing trip to Arches and the Colorado River.

The 2016 Hawaii Alumni Trip page pictures some highlights of our natural history trip there.

The 2019 Chile Alumni Trip pages illustrate our natural history and cultural tour of Chile. 


Joel Weisberg, jweisber  <at>

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Last updated on November 28, 2021.