Eric E. Becklin (born April 6, 1940) is an American astrophysicist, best known for his pioneering study of infra-red sources at the center of our galaxy.
Becklin received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. A faculty member since 1989, Becklin is a Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. Named SOFIA Chief Scientist in 1996, he was the first director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) at Mauna Kea, Hawaii and a principal investigator on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO). Becklin is internationally recognized for his expertise and research in infrared astronomy.
On August 23, 2012, in a ceremony held at Dryden Flight Research Center (now the Armstrong Flight Research Center), Dr. Becklin received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal “for excellence as a pioneer in the infrared astronomy field and providing key leadership for the scientific success of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.”
The primary focus of Becklin's research is infrared imaging and spectroscopy, including the search for brown dwarfs, the detection of circumstellar dust rings, the dynamics and composition of the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the nature of luminous infrared galaxies.
Becklin is Chief Scientist for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is a 2.7m infrared telescope installed in a modified Boeing 747SP.
Becklin is widely known for his discovery with Gerry Neugebauer in 1966 of an exceptionally bright infrared source within Orion known today as the Becklin-Neugebauer Object. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.
- B.S., Physics, University of Minnesota, 1963
- Ph.D., Physics, California Institute of Technology, 1968