Senate Faculty

Alex filippenko formal dec2012a small crop

Alex Filippenko

BA, 1979, Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

PhD, 1984, Astronomy, California Institute of Technology

Miller Fellow for Basic Reseach in Science, 1984-86, University of California, Berkeley
- Professor of Astronomy

501 Campbell Hall

P: 510-642-5275

Download Alex’s CV (as a pdf)

The Great Courses (astronomy video courses by Alex Filippenko)




Specialty areas

Active galaxies, Black holes, Gamma-ray bursts, Supernovae, The expansion of the Universe.

Research Interests

Alex Filippenko and his collaborators are determining the nature of the progenitor stars and the explosion mechanisms of different types of supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. He is also using supernovae as cosmological distance indicators, and he was a member of both teams that discovered (in 1998) the accelerating expansion of the Universe, probably driven by “dark energy” — a discovery that was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to the teams’ leaders. He also works on quantifying the physical properties of quasars and active galaxies, and he searches for black holes in both X-ray binary stars and nearby galactic nuclei. His group has developed the 0.76-meter Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT), which is conducting one of the world’s most successful searches for relatively nearby supernovae, having discovered more than 1000 of them. He is a frequent user of Lick Observatory, the 10-meter Keck telescopes, and the Hubble Space Telescope.


Alex Filippenko is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, and a Miller Senior Fellow in the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (UC Berkeley). His accomplishments, documented in about 930 research papers, have been recognized by several major prizes, including a share of both the Gruber Cosmology Prize (2007) and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2015). One of the world’s most highly cited astronomers, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2009) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015). In 2017, he was selected for the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award. He has won the most prestigious teaching awards at UC Berkeley and has also been voted the “Best Professor” on campus a record 9 times. Selected in 2006 as the Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year among doctoral institutions, he has also received the Richard H. Emmons Award for undergraduate teaching (2010). He produced five astronomy video courses with “The Great Courses” (see below), coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in more than 100 TV documentaries, including about 50 episodes of “The Universe” series. He has given about 1000 public lectures or other presentations, and he was awarded the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. An avid tennis player, hiker, skier, whitewater rafter, snorkeler, and scuba diver, he enjoys world travel and he loves to observe total solar eclipses (16 so far, all successful).

Alex’s future public talks:

(1) Saturday, April 13, 2019, 11:10 am: Cal Day, UC Berkeley. “Black Holes, Exploding Stars, and the Runaway Universe: A Life in Science.” 155 Dwinelle Hall. See .

(2) Sunday, May 5, 2019: Sonoma Valley Authors Festival. See


View Alex Filippenko’s Full Publications List


Understanding the universe cover
Black holes cover
Skywatching cover
Alex book

Other Publications Of Interest

Video courses:

(1) Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy


(2) Black Holes Explained


(3) Skywatching: Seeing and Understanding Cosmic Wonders