3 February 2021

Alphonse C. Sterling

Alphonse C Sterling

"Stars are color blind — everyone deserves an equal chance to study and enjoy them."

Position/Title: Astrophysicist

Affiliation: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

AAS Positions: AAS Nomination Committee member: 2019–present

Areas of Scientific Interest:
Studies of fundamental processes in the solar atmosphere leading to eruptive phenomena on a wide range of size scales. On the small-scale end are chromospheric spicules, which have lengths of ~5,000 km, and on the large-scale end are coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which can grow to be larger than the Sun’s diameter of 1.4 x 106 km.

Specific topics of research include:

  • Theoretical and observations studies of solar spicules and other chromospheric features
  • X-ray spectral observations of solar flares, including flare temperatures and coronal abundances
  • Observational studies of solar eruptions, flares, and CMEs
  • Observational and theoretical studies of X-ray, EUV, and UV solar jets
  • Evolution of solar magnetic fields leading to solar eruptions
  • Imaging of solar eclipses


  • Over 100 refereed publications, about 50 of them as first author
  • NASA Chief Planner for the Hinode satellite (2007–2013)
  • Honorary Professor, University College London, Department of Space and Climate Physics (2003–2008)
  • Participant in the movie Black Suns: An Astrophysics Adventure (2017)