Paul D. Maley WEB PAGES 2024-07-04T07:49:05-05:00

Paul D. Maley’s WEB PAGES



paul d. maley, solar eclipse

My life-long interest in exploring everything of interest in the night sky (and the day sky also) has been largely focused on planning and executing expeditions to observe eclipses of the Sun as well as eclipses of stars by asteroids.  My first objects of interest were clouds and the Moon which later expanded my horizons to things that were not easily seen with the unaided eye.  Born in New York less than a day after a total eclipse of the Sun, I was inspired by the late Aline B. Carter, former poet laureate of Texas who taught astronomy at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas in 1958. In addition, I was mentored in 1960 by Prof. Fred Ball Jr of San Antonio College who was a key player with the Trinity University Moonwatch Team.

I observe comets, space debris, asteroids, meteor showers, eclipses of the Sun and Moon, artificial earth satellites and collecting accounts of space/launch debris recoveries. My earthbound exploration travels have allowed me to visit 306 countries and territories¹ so far.  From 1969 to 2010 I worked as an aerospace contractor at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas supporting space missions from Apollo to the International Space Station.

Attempting to move a crocodile in the Gambia 2011

               With Gentoo penguin pal on the Palmer Peninsular on his 2nd trip to Antarctica in 2018

ASTRONOMICAL OUTREACH: In 1970 I conceived and developed a public outreach arm of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society called RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS which has offered astronomical tours first to members of astronomical societies in the state of Texas and to the general public to see solar eclipses and the Northern Lights since 1977.  Following this, public outreach was expanded to interested science enthusiasts in the USA and other countries.  More than 3,000 people have participated so far in eclipse adventure groups ranging from 10 to 300 persons.  Travel for these Texas outreach events has extended from Antarctica in the south to Svalbard in the North.

I have been involved in international amateur astronomical efforts to establish successful observations of minor planet occultations in Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, and India in addition to setting up joint observation efforts with amateur astronomers in South Africa, Moldova, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Macedonia. During the International Space Year (ISY) 1992 I established an initiative to provide viewing predictions for the Space Shuttle to planetariums in 34 countries. This initiative was approved and co-sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

I have traveled to observe 84 eclipses of the Sun around the world In 2010 I founded the Clear Lake Marathon Training Trail and have completed half marathons on all 7 continents

Planning for the next solar eclipse (left). 3rd place in the Antarctica half marathon 2012 (right)

Between 1983 and 2013 I served as Vice President for the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) and over the years have successfully observed 739 separate minor planet occultations.  In 1977 I observed evidence suggesting the existence of  a satellite of an asteroid during an occultation of 3.6 magnitude star Gamma Ceti by the minor planet (6) Hebe. Although not confirmed, it set off  the hunt for natural satellites orbiting asteroids, the first one officially being discovered in 1994 by the Galileo spacecraft.

Double star discovery during my observation of an occultation of TYC 5780-00308-1 on August 23, 2017 by the asteroid (834) Burnhamia

In Gurgaon, India for the October 13, 2015 Dione minor planet occultation of HIP12740

I have published photos in publications such as Aviation Week & Space Technology and National Geographic; videos on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery News Channel, and the Science Channel; papers in the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomical Journal and many others. See the link MALEY PUBLICATIONS below for details.

In my work life I served at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1969 to 2010 working as a space flight control engineer supporting the Apollo Moon landings beginning in 1969, Skylab, Skylab Reentry mission, Space Shuttle missions STS-1, -2, -26, -46, -49, -60, -61,-63, -67, -75, -85, -91, -93, -95,  and -132; in addition,  SEDS-1 Delta launched flight (Mexico), Hyabusa-1 Reentry (Australia), several planned reentries of the Space Shuttle External Tank (Hawaii), and International Space Station support activity .

¹as documented in the “Travelers Century Club” list of official countries where the criteria for a ‘country’ is defined at 



In Kosovo 2009

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Serving as an Apollo Telescope Mount Science Computer Officer spaceflight controller in Mission Control Center-Houston during the SKYLAB reentry mission 1978


Below is the Firefly Alpha launch from Vandenburg AFB on July 4, 2024 appearing low in the west from Scottsdale, AZ at 4:12UT.

Below is the STARLINK 9-1 launch from Vandenburg AFB on June 18, 2024 rises from the western horizon and dwarfs everything except the very high phase Moon in the left side of the image. My photo with an 8mm lens, ISO 16 and 3 second exposure, from New River, Arizona at 3:40UT June 19. The cloud could be seen for 10 minutes before fading away.


(1) White cloud spotted low in the western sky moving west to east headed for my zenith.

(2) The cloud almost reaches the zenith beginning to fade out leaving a trail in this 3 second exposure.

(3) A red cloud appearing after the white cloud vanished. This remained in place for about 40 seconds before it faded out.

Auroras I captured May 11, 2024 from New River AZ  (latitude 34 degrees N) in the great storm of 2024 between 0430 and 0700UT.

The launch of Starlink G8-2 on May 10, 2024 occurred around 4:32UT. I happened to be in Buckeye, AZ and took a series of exposures. The fuzzy streak shows the rocket moving right to let after launch from Vandenberg AFB some 600 miles away. This is a time exposure of 4 seconds showing the linear trail of the rocket with a sheath of gas surrounding and trailing it.

Starlink G52 group of 26 satellites observed May 4, 2024 (16 days after launch) between 1105 and 1120UT from Carefree, AZ with 26 separate exposures of the same frame. Some objects appear twice since an 8mm lens used and some objects recorded earlier were still transiting the field of view.




Above are images rocket engine burn from the Falcon 9 Block 5 (Starlink Group 6-55) reentry engine that I photographed May 3, 2024 at 04:08UT from north of Cordes Lakes, AZ. The second stage reentered over the Indian Ocean at 4:50UT.  The images progress from top to bottom with a bright blob seen naked eye low in the western sky (1). Each photo is 5 seconds long, with about a 5 second gap before the next photo was taken; ISO 1600 with a 20mm f/1.4 lens. The last photo shows the trail in the sky of the second stage rocket which was hidden behind the cloud in the preceding image until the cloud rapidly began to fade. The entire episode lasted around 60 seconds.


The distinctive silvery cloud from the launch of 22 Starlink 7-13 satellites from Vandenburg AFB as seen from Carefree, Arizona February 9, 2024 at 645pm MST. This was about 11 minutes after launch and my location was hundreds of miles from the launch site.

Spectacular and intense double rainbow from Carefree, Arizona February 4, 2024

A pair of American reconnaissance satellites from the USA 229 mission photographed in Carefree, Arizona October 7, 2023 at 1208UT

Although the photo above may look like an ordinary double rainbow the area between the two bows is called Alexander’s Dark Band. Alexander of Aphrodisias first documented this atmospheric effect in 200 AD.  Light rays undergoing a single reflection in raindrops form the primary rainbow and tend to brighten the sky inside it. Rays reflected twice are deviated to from the secondary rainbow or brighten the sky outside.  Raindrops along lines of sight between the two rainbows cannot send light to your eye and so the sky is darker there. Taken August 22,2023.

Starlink 6-20 from Carefree, Arizona just after launch. Rocket trail faintly visible as a thin short line on left edge of photo while exhaust plumes appear across the entire frame. Taken 0402UT on August 8 2023.

May 6, 2023 at 308UT 52 Starlink satellites from the G5-6 mission launched at 7:31UT on May 4 appeared over northern Arizona. I video recorded the procession from Carefree, Arizona; you can see this 63 second video on YouTube at the following link:

Passage of the Starlink G5-6 procession of 56 satellites close together on May 4, 2023 with me in foreground recording it on my home security camera. This is a screen grab from that footage taken at 7:55 pm some 38 minutes after sunset.

Reentry of Dragon Endurance 2 trunk (#55840) over my house April 27, 2023 at 1:51am MST. Not the best image from my Iphone 12.

Total solar eclipse photo in April 20, 2023 from the Montebello Islands, Australia. From

A very large sunspot that I captured after sunrise on January 21, 2023 from Carefree, Arizona. From

Blue Walker 3 satellite over Carefree, AZ at magnitude +1. Bright star is Procyon. Paul Maley photo. See also SPACEWEATHER.COM, Nov. 14, 2022.

Chinese space plane test vehicle. Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

My China space plane video from Carefree, AZ October4, 2022:

A group of satellites from the STARLINK G4-29 launch passing north of Carefree, AZ October 12, 2022 at 1210UT giving off flares from reflected sunlight off structure. ISO400, 30 sec. 50mm Nikon D3100 lens. Satellite altitude 331km.

Noctilucent cloud seen on the northwest horizon October 5, 2022 above Vandeberg AFB. I took this photo by accident from my driveway recognizing that it was from a STARLINK launch that took place 2 hours 40 minutes earlier. Photo taken at 650pm MST/PDT from Carefree, AZ.

The Chinese Long March rocket body that launched the Wentian laboratory to the Tiangong Space Station makes its final pass over Arizona in this photo that I shot ~6 hours before reentry on July 30, 2022. Taken at 1117UT the sky here in Carefree AZ was almost completely overcast as the rocket passed through a small hole in the clouds flashing once per second. 15 sec exposure, ISO400. Nikon D3100 and 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Detection of a possible shape anomaly in the asteroid (678) Fredegundis June 4, 2022. My observation in the left graph is the bottom broken line derived from raw data on the right.

Photo of the annular solar eclipse June 10, 2021 that I took from an aircraft flying over southern Ontario, Canada appeared on the cover of this German magazine August 2021

 A new nova in the constellation of Cassiopeia was discovered March 18, 2021. I photographed it March 21, 2021 at 1145UT (445am MST) with a 100mm lens, ISO 3200 and 10 sec exposure from Carefree, AZ. In the image above the square photo is from a Sky Patrol image (more zoomed in), while the tilted lighter image is my photo that is less magnified. The small pink cross shows the nova location in the square photo while the arrow from the N is my image. There are two reference stars also shown called A and B that can be seen on both the Sky Patrol image and my photo. Coordinates  for the nova designated V1405 Cas are RA 23h 24m 48s, DEC +61deg 11 m15s. It is located about 1.7 parsecs (~33.5 trillion miles) from Earth.

Chinese Long March 5 rocket body from Tianhe-1 launch photographed over Carefree, Arizona May 8, 2021. Tumbling with flashes about once/second these are 8 second exposures, ISO 800 about 18 hours before its reentry.  Maximum brightness -1.

Total lunar eclipse May 25, 2021 as seen from Carefree, Arizona. Reference stars Beta, Lambda, Omega 1/2 Sco.

Another dramatic event on May 28, 2021 was the eclipse of Jupiter’s moon Io by another moon Ganymede. I captured it on video (green curve) as it dropped 4.9 magnitudes and then recovered after about 30 seconds. Since the 4 largest satellites of Jupiter (discovered by Galileo in 1610) they undergo mutual eclipses about each 6 years as the plane of their orbits lines up with that of Earth.

A rare recurrent nova exploded on August 8, 2021 after previous explosions in 1898, 1933, 1958, 1967, 1985, and 2006. Called RS Ophiuchi I photographed it August 13, 2021 where it appeared at magnitude ~6.6 in comparison to 4 other stars in the above image.

During the pandemic: Instagram talk to 173 students in Iran on May 11, 2020 









Trip 2: participating in a race in Pyongyang, North Korea in 2015                                       Trip 1: North Korea side of DMZ 2005



Paul presents a Mauritius flag flown on the Space Shuttle to Paul Berenger, Prime Minister of Mauritius during the 2004 Transit of Venus expedition there




A summary of all Northern Lights expeditions I have led are here.

Paul under aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska 2014


I have led many formal eclipse expeditions. But to see an account of ALL of my solar eclipses, click here:

(EXPEDITIONS  SHOWN ON THIS PAGE THAT DO NOT HAVE ACTIVE LINKS WERE EITHER NOT DOCUMENTED OR THE SUMMARIES WERE LOST. The list below does not include ALL solar eclipses I have seen but just those where I organized and led a group unless it shows the word PRIVATE where I have documented the trip properly.)

Finding “Eclipse Drive” in Cary, NC

Paul and Space Shuttle astronaut Claude Nicollier at the Jalu, Libya eclipse camp 2006

All solar eclipses I have seen can be found here.





 Prior to 1977 there was no such object in astronomical textbooks as a natural satellite of an asteroid. Paul reported an observation during an occultation of a 3.6 magnitude star in March 1977 that suggested the first possible satellite of an asteroid— a small object orbiting the asteroid (6) Hebe. Co-authoring the report with D.W. Dunham in 1978, it set off a concerted effort by amateur astronomers and professionals to observe occultations of stars by minor planets. Though this specific discovery remains unconfirmed, it was in 1994 that the Galileo spacecraft beamed back the first image of a natural satellite of the asteroid Ida, thus proving the existence of a hitherto unknown population of solar system objects (see Asteroids, edited by T. Gehrels, p. 443, 1979 and Minor Planet Bulletin, Vol. 5, pp 16-17. December 1977). As of 6/24/22 some 468 objects in our solar system have been identified as binary, triple or more.

Observed / videorecorded 554 occultations of stars by minor planets mostly from US locations but also observations were made from 6 continents with the goals of improving asteroid size and shape information, detection of new double stars and attempting to discover new minor planet satellites.

Discovered that inactive earth satellites (space debris) could have an impact on professional astronomical discoveries. Paul determined that the cause of the infamous Aries (Perseus) flasher, an object that caused a stir in the astronomical world in 1985 was caused by sunlight glinting off a piece of Russian space debris (see Astrophysical Journal, vol. 317, 1987, L39-44). Sometime later, Greek astronomers published a paper and photograph purporting to show a bright meteor impact on the non-sunlit portion of the Earth-facing Moon. Paul determined that this flash was caused by an inactive American satellite passing directly in the field of view at the time (see Icarus, vol. 90, April 2, 1991, pp. 376-377). These two events alerted the community to consider the importance of the ever increasing population of earth orbiting man-made objects.

– Originator and curator of HISTORY OF SPACE DEBRIS RECOVERIES web pages which continue to serve as a worldwide source of information describing accounts of recovered satellite reentry pieces that have survived encounters with the Earth’s atmosphere.

-Originated the idea of training the Space Shuttle Challenger crew to observe Halley’s Comet from space in 1985. He also conducted the Halley’s Comet observation training of the astronauts on that ill fated mission.

Originated the contingency plan to cope with the possibility of a failure with the Space Shuttle deployment of the Italian-designed Tether Satellite System (TSS-1) 1996; in the event the very thin tether was to break, the only place to document this would be from Australia in the first days after deployment. NASA agreed to send me to Australia. In fact, the tether did break and Paul obtained the first video documentation of the shape and orientation of a free flying tether.

– Since 2016 have worked with Jyotirvidya Parisanstha, an association of amateur astronomers in India, in order to help develop and promote observation of minor planet occultations.

Presentation at The Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India, December 22, 2016



16-inch telescope used to observe and record the Apollo 13 explosion. Photos have not survived from that time.

1970 – Organized observation of the Apollo 13 spacecraft on its way to the Moon on April 11 and generated the ephemeris for it. Observed and reported the O2 tank  explosion that occurred onboard the Command Module to Mission Control just minutes after it happened; Paul was one of a very few to see this incredible space event in real time.

1972 – Conducted the first use of image intensifier technology and video and recorded an outburst of the Draconid meteor shower  (see IAUC 2452).

1973 – Primary organizer of the most successful lunar grazing occultation expedition (see Sky & Telescope April,1973, p.257).

1973 – Comet Kohutek was predicted to be a major comet but it was continuously cloudy for weeks over Houston where Paul lived. Rather than never seeing the comet he organized a flight to get above the clouds where he was able to study the comet clearly.

1979 – Took the last photo over the USA of Skylab before it reentered the atmosphere. See NASA Roundup, July 27, 1979.

1980 – Took the first photo of an occultation of a star by an asteroid. See Sky & Telescope, March 1980, p 261.

1980 – Reacting at the first sign of a possible major volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens, I flew with a NASA colleague to the volcano in Washington and monitored it for a short time before it eventually exploded 30 days later.

1982 – Took the only photo ever taken of a complete grazing occultation process of a star by the moon during a total lunar eclipse 37 years to the day at the very beach where Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed to oversee retaking of the Philippine Islands in WWII. See Sky & Telescope, April 1982, p 426.

1982 – Contracted by former Astronaut Deke Slayton to be the official photographer of the first private rocket launch. My launch photo appeared on the cover of Aviation Week & Space Technology.

1982 – Confirmed successful deployment of two payloads carried in the STS-5 cargo bay by photographing them in orbit. December 1982.

1982 – Computed where the Russian Salyut 6 spacecraft and the Space Shuttle (STS-4 mission) orbits would cross each other at twilight and traveled to Florida for the intercept; took photos of both spacecraft in the same field of view.

1984 – Principal organizer of most productive expedition to map the shape of an asteroid. See Astronomy, February 1984, p 51.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

1984 – Took the first photo of the reentry of a Space Shuttle orbiter. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, February 27, 1984, p 40.

1984 – Took the first photo of reentry of Space Shuttle external tank. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, April 26, 1984, p 21.

1985 – Took the first photo confirming theoretical chemiluminescence (reaction of nitrogen oxides and naturally occuring ozone yielding a free radical that glows for some minutes) occurs during Space Shuttle Reentry. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 21, 1095, p 85.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Using low light level image intensified video to record Perseus flasher candidates 1985

1985 – Determined that gamma-ray flashes reported in the literature were actually due to sun glints from a defunct Earth satellite. See “The Perseus Flasher and Satellite Glints”, (co-author) ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 320, 1987 Sep. 1, pp.398-403.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul (left) and Teacher-in-Space backup astronaut Barbara Morgan (center) presenting a mission description on NASA TV, just prior to the ill-fated Challenger launch.

1985 – Convinced NASA to let me train several Challenger astronauts on how to properly observe Halley’s comet during their space mission in January 1986.

1985 – Hired by ABC News to videorecord the reentry of the Space Shuttle Discovery, September 2, 1991.

1985 – Supported the German Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracers Explorer experiment to release chemicals into the upper atmosphere. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, May 27, 1985, p.95.

1986 – Took the first photo of a cluster of geostationary communication satellites in one frame. See Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 3, 1986, p 73.

1986 – Invited and funded by the Pakistan Upper Atmosphere and Space Commission to advise on design of a ground-based satellite surveillance system capable of observing geostationary spacecraft. 

1986 – Promoted video observations of occultations in France. See PULSAR, September-October 1986, cover, showing Paul and his grazing occultation video.

1986 – Requested from the London Science Museum to exhibit personal Space Shuttle video and photographs in the Space Science and Technology Gallery.

1986 – Organized a group of amateur astronomers to observe effects associated with Space Shuttle reentry. On the tape recordings of one such event Paul  recognized that frogs, which were croaking loudly in the background at a station located near a pond, stopped croaking suddently two seconds before the sonic boom from reentry was heard. This work verified that frogs are sensitive to seismic waves. Sensitivity of male frogs to sonic boom overpressure waves later was the focus of joint study with a University of California investigative team.

1987 – Invited to testify before House subcommittee on Space Science and Applications in regard to NASA future budget in my capacity as Chairman of the National Committee on Space Science & Astronomy for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

1987 – Conducted the first joint Pro-Am expedition to Taiyuan, China to observe an annular solar eclipse from the edges of the path of annularity.

1988 – Requested by NASA Public Affairs Office to take over the official task of generating Space Shuttle sighting data across the United States while employed by the NASA Flight Director Office.

1988- Request from astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan for a copy of one of Paul’s technical papers on space debris.

1989 – Created an initiative adopted by the Goodwill Games in Seattle to promote observation of Earth satellites during the games.

1989 – Principal Investigator for the Detailed Test Objective 330 “Water Dump Cloud Formation” which studied  observational characteristics of effluent ejected from the Space Shuttle and potential impact to deployed payloads. This was actually flown in space on mission STS-29.

1989 – Funded by the National Geographic Society to travel to French Guiana to observe an eclipse of a star by the asteroid Vesta.

1990 – Requested by NASA to intercept  the reentry of the STS-31 External Tank from Hawaii.

1991 – Acknowledged for his support of Teledyne Brown Engineering’s space debris research effort to observe fragmenting satellites.

1991 – Requested by the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab to provide optical images and position measurements of the asteroid Gaspra prior to the flyby by the Galileo spacecraft.

1992 – Created an initiative adopted by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to promote observation of the Space Shuttle and Mir station by planetariums around the world during the International Space Year. Paul computed visibility predictions of these bright space objects which were faxed by the UN to planetariums in 34 countries by coordination with  Committee Chair Dr. Petr Lala. See ISY NEWS, January-February 1992.

Leading a group at the Karymskii Volcano, Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) 1991

1992 – Created and led a joint US expedition with Russian geologists to help map the magnetic field at the base of the Karymskii volcano in Kamchatka, Russia.

1993 – Funded by NASA to travel to Club Med Playa Blanca, Manzanillo Mexico as an observation site on two occasions due to one weather delay to record the reentry of the Small Expendable Deployer System -1 reentry. March 30 the mission was finally launched.

1996 – Originated a proposal and was NASA-funded to travel to Cairns, Australia to record the first ever video of a free flying tether in space. After this successful recording another space photo was obtained in the US and published.  See Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 25, 1996, p. 17.

1996 – Video-recorded the STS-77 Space Shuttle orbiter and several payloads flying in formation; this video was uplinked directly into space so the Space Shuttle crew could see the results of their successful payload deployment before returning to Earth.

1998 – Conducted joint observation with Beijing Astronomical Observatory of the 1998 Leonid meteor shower.

1999 – Worked to help design a satellite called STARSHINE launched into space.The purpose was to be observed by students around the world with simple equipment. Four such satellites were eventually launched. Paul made observations on all but more specifically from a ship near the Falkland Islands to help confirm STARSHINE 2  naked-eye visibility.

2000-2005: Represented the NASA Mission Operations Division in Moscow and Star City, Russia (2000-2003) and in Tsukuba, Japan (2003-2005) to help integrate the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), respectively, into the International Space Station configuration.

2004/2005 – Developed and had approved historical markers for two important Transit of Venus observing locations; researched, discovered and was instrumental in preserving the house where Asaph Hall lived when he discovered the moons of Mars in 1877 (see above DISCOVERY OF MARS SATELLITES link).

2004 – Conducted the first of two Transit of Venus expeditions 8 years apart.  On the first one Paul presented a Mauritian flag flown in space to the Prime Minister (Paul Berenger) of Mauritius.

2006 – Invited and funded by the Union of Concerned Scientists to present at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the role of independent satellite observers in the field of space surveillance April 11.

Presenting results of the reentry in 2009 at a Manchester UK conference

2008Designed an experiment which flew on an airborne campaign to record the reentry of the first European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-1) in September 2008 as part of the multi-mission campaign coordinated by ESA and Ames Research Center (ARC).  Worked with ARC personnel to test, integrate and fly the hardware successfully on the Gulfstream aircraft to support this mission.

2010 – Obtained funding from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to provide reentry support for the Japanese Hayabusa asteroid sample return mission. Traveled to Coober Pedy, Australia and obtained ground video coverage of the reentry.

2010 – Member of the discovery team for 2 new double stars (HIP31689 and HIP94703). See: “New Double Stars from Asteroidal Occultations, 1971-2008” D. Herald et al (co-author), JOURNAL OF DOUBLE STAR OBSERVATIONS, Jan.1, 2010, Vol 6 No. 1, pp. 81-96.

2011 – Received approval to use the 90-inch/229cm telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory to observe an occultation of the star TYC 1786-00616-1 by asteroid (255) Oppavia on Nov. 6.

2013 – Member of discovery team of the second satellite of the Mars crossing asteroid (2577) Litva with the Keck II telescope. See IAU Circular 9267.

Near Clanwilliam, South Africa 2017 for asteroid observation.

2017 – Traveled to South Africa to observe an eclipse of an extremely distant asteroid as part of NASA’s New Horizons space mission. Funded by Southwest Research Institute.

2018 – Member of the discovery team for new double star TYC 5780-308-1 . See: “TYC 5780-308-1 Discovery of Stellar Duplicity During Asteroidal Occultation by (834) Burnhamia” B. Timerson, T. George, T. Blank, Paul Maley, S. Messner, J. Moore. Journal of Double Star Observations, Vol. 14 No. 2, 395-400. April 1, 2018.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul and Lynn Palmer in Ulaan Bator, Mongolia February 1997 for the total solar eclipse

A great portion of my night life has been conducting singular earth satellite observations. This includes having documented the reentry of Cosmos 166 in 1967 from south Texas, tasked by NASA to record several re-entries of the Space Shuttle’s External Tank in conjunction with radar observation sites in Hawaii, video-recorded about 12 re-entries of the Space Shuttle itself en-route to final  landings in Florida, a number of observation projects involving space debris, and observing spacecraft from the former USSR whose missions were unannounced.

I was the youngest person ever to have an independent observing site under the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Moonwatch Program in 1960 (San Antonio, Texas station 8634).  I presented papers at various International Astronautical Federation (IAF–now called IAC) congresses on observations of Iridium spacecraft, Ariane IV rocket bodies, and other visual satellite photometry applications. In June 2000, I was invited to present a paper before the 18th Inter-agency Debris Committee describing his optical study of exploding Russian Proton 4th stage ullage motors which are one source of space debris in geostationary transfer orbits.

I utilized Global Positioning System receivers to initially survey a volcanic area in a joint cooperative expedition with the Institute of Geology and Geochemistry in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Russian far east in 1991. Then through agreement with Trimble Navigation I began to use Trimble GPS receivers to establish coordinates for solar eclipse sites in the South America, Africa, Australia and Asia as well as for sites of 19th century eclipses in the USA.

Other noteworthy activities have included observation of a 1 meter size ullage motor (NORAD catalog #20698) at an altitude of only 92 miles with the unaided eye; the Russian Mir space station from the middle of Seoul, Korea; the Mir from a cruise ship docked in Port Said, Egypt; the Mir from a moving train between Bulgaria and Romania; Iridium satellites in broad daylight from Scotland and Australia; night time Iridium flares from Iran, Crete, Turkey, France and Russia and many other places; observed three total lunar eclipses in one calendar year (1982); photo of two Russian space stations in one frame as published in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC; consultant to the Pakistan Upper Atmosphere and Space Administration (1988); interviewed on television stations in Gabon, Zambia, Curacao, Rodriguez Island, Japan, China and elsewhere in connection with safe eclipse observation procedures prior to solar eclipses; invited speaker on United Nations Day at the University of Miami (1993); and sighted noctilucent clouds in Finland.

In Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus 2014

I have also led astronomical expeditions to Venezuela, Mexico and Sudan to attempt to improve the lunar polar diameter; undertaken expeditions to India, Greece, Moldova, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Macedonia, Cuba, Indonesia, Taiwan, Guyana, Australia, Lord Howe Island, Brazil,  Australia, Kuwait, Tanzania, and France to observe occultations of stars by asteroids; observed four sunlit passes of the Space Shuttle from the tip of South America in one night.

In addition: sighted a simultaneous aurora and naked eye comet from a commercial flight over the Pacific Ocean in 1997; payload integration engineer for the Midcourse Space Experiment satellite MSX whose Delta rocket tank reentered and pieces of which were recovered in central Texas; organized and led expeditions to observe grazing occultations of stars by the moon and solar eclipses where Shuttle astronauts have also been observers; published popular articles on how to successfully observe occultations, earth satellites and eclipses in journals in the USA, China, France and Italy; presented lectures on astronomical topics in Singapore, Spain, Poland, Denmark, India, Japan, Peru, Mexico, Belgium, Jordan, South Africa, Australia, France, England, Canada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Japan, and India.

I have received funding for just a few projects from the Federation of American Scientists, National Geographic Society and NASA, but the vast majority of my expeditions have been conducted with my own resources. One of my more exotic assignments was to await the launch of a rocket with an expendable tether system while staying at a Club Med hotel near Manzanillo, Mexico. Another was the 1995 Shuttle mission of the Italian Tethered Satellite System where I obtained low light video of the free flying tether (from Cairns, Australia) which was unexpectedly severed from the Shuttle soon after its deployment.

While traveling in Sudan in 1985 to observe a total lunar eclipse our vehicle ran a military road block in the middle of the night accidentally and was shot at by soldiers. People had been killed before doing just that and it was just luck that we were not hit.

In 1990 while on a personal trip to the big island of Hawaii I photographed the Hubble Space Telescope within yards of an active lava flow from Kilauea volcano.

In December 1992 while being sent by NASA to observe the Orbital Debris Calibration Spheres deployment from the Space Shuttle my car broke down  about 2 hours south of Punta Arenas, Chile and I had to hike for 10 miles until I found anyone at all. My rental car had been run off the road by an ostrich and all the while I was hiking I was stalked by angry sheep and ostriches just waiting for me to drop dead from weakness so they could have a meal. I was rescued by the guardian of the only penguin colony in the region. Two days later I observed four consecutive orbits of the Space Shuttle from Punta Arenas–a record number of such sightings.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul with a jaguar in the Peruvian Amazon, 1991

My videos of satellites and meteors have been used to demonstrate educational aspects of observation and have been shown on the Discovery Channel, Chinese television, The Learning Channel, ABC and CBS News, in England, Belgium and Germany, as well as having been appended to post-Shuttle mission flight footage by NASA.

On March 26, 2016 the Japanese Hitomi (ASTRO-H) X-ray satellite suffered a failure. I was the first to get detailed video documenting two large pieces rotating ‘out of control’ which signaled the complete failure of the $270 Million mission. In the photo below note the series of equally spaced flashes in the upper left quadrant.

A flashing piece of the Hitomi spacecraft (upper left to lower right) passes through Orion on March 29, 2016 after experiencing a catastrophic event. P. Maley photo.

I have had a long interest in meteor shower observation, witnessed a dramatic return of the 1966 Leonid Meteor Storm during undergraduate school years in south Texas, and then a brief outburst from the Draconid meteor shower in 1972 when I first used an electronic image intensifier and video. I was also a real-time eyewitness to the explosion of the manned Apollo 13 command module while it was on its way to the Moon and, created the ephemeris so that it could be tracked that night from the NASA Johnson Space Center.  I have participated in projects ranging from space art to research on the nature of the famous Marfa lights seen in west Texas.


• Recipient of Gordon Myers Amateur Achievement Award, September 2022 by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

•  Recipient of the G. Bruce Blair Gold Medal, awarded November 4, 2021 by the Western Amateur Astronomers.

•  Elected as Fellow of the Explorers Club, April 10, 2021.

The binary asteroid 1981CH was named 27675 Paulmaley at the September 3, 2019  5th Workshop on Binaries, Ft. Collins, Co. The primary asteroid was discovered in 1981 by L.Brozek at Klet Observatory, Czechia and the secondary was found by D.Pray and P. Pravec at Ondrejov Observatory, Czech Republic in 2017. The primary asteroid is 5 km/3.1 miles  in diameter and its satellite is estimated by light curve analysis to be around 1 km/0.62 miles in size. The asteroid makes one complete rotation in 2.966 hours and completes one revolution around the Sun in 3.6 years.


Diagram showing the position of my binary asteroid on Nov. 8, 2022. Produced by Richard Nugent.     

•  Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Occultation Timing Association presented September 20, 2019.

•  Elected as Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1975 (nominated by Dr. Brian G. Marsden)




Cameo appearance in the ABC TV movie “Houston, We Have A Problem” in 1974

On the Science Channel (2018)


On the personal side, I have enjoyed climbing and photographing active volcanoes in Hawaii, Aeolian Islands, Costa Rica, Russia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Mexico, mainland USA, Guatemala, Montserrat, Sicily, Peru, and Japan. I have raised basset hounds and participated in automobile rallies. While many of my endeavors have been successful, others have not.  I have had a frustrating and unproductive comet hunting project begun in 1973 enhanced with the purchase of 25 x 150 Fujinon binoculars in Japan in 1980. It is a life-long goal to discover a comet.

I am the co-owner of 2 cats. This requires being a personal cat servant as seen below.

In the meantime, I have been a continual contributor to STARSCAN, the publication of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society. I have jogged in Kuwait, Chile, Oman, Barbados, Sri Lanka, Japan,  Macao, Dubai, Turkey and dozens of other countries (see separate RUNNING PAGE) and completed half marathons on all seven continents.

At US Dept of State dinner June 13, 2013

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul (right) with his sister and mother in a 1961 photo at the Aline Carter observatory in San Antonio, Texas

With the Transit of Mercury team in Bolivia in May 2016 at the start of the infamous Death Road 56km northeast of La Paz. The road was  cut into the side of the Cordillera Oriental Mountain chain in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul served in the NASA Johnson Space Center Flight Director Office for a number of years and appears in this office photo 1989


A few photos from the numerous trips I took to new places.

In Chisinau, Moldova in 2010

In Tbilisi, Georgia in 2011

During my many mostly uneventful travels I narrowly missed a bomb attack at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris, being shot at in the Sudan while passing through a darkened roadblack at night, traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kashmir without security and a few other places as in the image below from Yemen taken in 1994.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse                                                                                                                                                           In Yemen 1994

Entering Serbia 2009

Srinigar, Kashmir 2007

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

With lowland gorillas in Uganda, January 2010

In the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, January 2015 the day before an annular solar eclipse

In Turkmenistan 2012

In Iraq with military guard at occultation site 2011

Plaque given to me by Azhy Chato Hassan in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan 2011 commemorating our successful minor planet occultation expedition there.

In the Bengazhi, Libya weather office (2005) working on understanding the prospects for observing the 2006 solar eclipse there

In Tiraspol, Transntstria 2010

In Damascus, Syria 1993 where I had dinner with a Syrian cosmonaut

In Ajman 2013

At Kabul, Afghanistan airport 2007

In Baku, Azerbaijan 2011

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

  Claiming a small piece of Antarctica for Texas in March 2012

On a trip to Antarctica (Palmer Peninsula), I planted a flag laying ‘claim’ to that portion of Antarctica for the state of Texas. Since that part of Antarctica has been claimed by Argentina, Britain and Chile and none of these claims carries any legitimate legal weight, my claim should carry equal weight.

I have conducted many international astronomical outreach efforts in an effort to export interest in eclipses of stars by asteroids.  Amongst them are expeditions to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Canada, India, South Africa, Taiwan and other countries to encourage local amateur astronomers in this endeavor.

With a 16-inch telescope at Clanwilliam, South Africa, May 2017 on an expedition to image the Trans Neptunian Object (TNO) 2014 MU69. T.Blank photo.

December 2016 with Indian Jyotirvidya Parisanstha (JVP) astronomy team for an occultation of a star by the asteroid Kalliope east of Pune, India. Photo at a gas station along the route. This expedition was successful.


In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia May 2015 training the university team to record the occultation of Regulus by the asteroid Dagmar. This expedition was successful.


In Shaqlawa, Iraqi Kurdistan April 2011 working with local amateur astronomers and the military for the occultation of a star by the asteroid Peraga. This expedition was successful.

paul d. maley, solar eclipse

Paul and Hasan Al Hariri (Dubai Astronomy Group) meet in Dubai, January 2013 for outreach to prepare for the March 3 Watsonia asteroid occultation and to discuss the annular solar eclipse December 2019.

Baalbek, Lebanon 1995

In Dili, East Timor 2014

In Palestine May 18, 2017


Since 1994 I have had several wonderful cats; however, Lucy K, an American short hair cat was the one who made the most impact on me. She lived from 2006 to May 24, 2020 and is now buried in Carefree, Arizona safe from predators.

In order to remember her I provide the photo above right showing her profile with respect to the constellation of Leo. This constellation can be seen in October before sunrise rising in the east; it remains visible through spring as it rises in the east earlier and earlier providing a constant reminder of her when I look up at the night sky.  If you only knew how much joy she brought to us during her 14 years of life, you would truly be amazed. She deserves to be memorialized as Lucy in the Sky with diamonds.