(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.