Return to Heritage Home Page Current Image Gallery Archive Information Center Hubble Art Search
Return to Heritage Home Page Current Release Home Page Caption Fast Facts Biographies Supplemental Material
    John Biretta Biography Bill Sparks Biography Duccio Macchetto Biography Eric Perlman Biography  
John Biretta

John Biretta
Space Telescope Science Institute

John Biretta is an Associate Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He has been at STScI since 1993 and is currently in charge of the Wide Field / Planetary Camera group, which is the primary imaging instrument on-board the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Biretta's scientific interests are in the area of "active" galaxies and the jets they often contain. Much of his work is devoted to understanding how these jets are formed, and how they propagate across enormous distances in their host galaxies.

John grew up in Greenhills, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. One of his early recollections was his family going outside one night to see a new satellite pass over. "While I don't think we saw the satellite, I still remember the sky that night -- richly blanketed with countless stars; it was incredibly beautiful," he says. He was interested in science from early childhood, and the influence of the Apollo space program helped turn his interests towards astronomy during his early teens. He soon spent many hours scanning and photographing the skies with his home-made eight inch Newtonian telescope (a fine instrument which he still uses today). He obtained a Bachelors degree in Physics from Thomas More College, a small liberal arts college, and went on to graduate school at the California Institute of Technology where he obtained a PhD in Astronomy. After research positions at Harvard and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, he came to the Space Telescope Institute where he has been responsible for calibrating and maintaining the Wide Field / Planetary Camera on board HST. John has written over a hundred scientific papers, primarily on active galaxies, using observations from many telescopes spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the radio to X-ray wavelengths.

When not studying distant galaxies, John enjoys photography, backpacking, gardening, and classical violin. He and his wife Barbara live on a small farm in rural Maryland.