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Sekanina Zdeněk

PhDr., RNDr.
Born June 12, 1936 in Mladá Boleslav

  • Honorary member of Learned Society since 1996

Educational and professional preparation:

  • 1954, graduate, academic secondary school, Mladá Boleslav;
  • 1954-1959, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University (FMP CU);
  • 1963, RNDr. and CSc., FMP CU

Employment and academic positions:

  • 1959-1966, research associate, People’s Observatory, Prague-Petřín;
  • 1965 and 1968-1969, visiting scientific worker, Institut d’ Astrophysique, Universite de Liege, Cointe-Ougree (Belgium);
  • 1966, visiting scientist, Hamburger Sternwarte, Hamburg-Bergerdorf, Hamburg (SRN);
  • 1967-1968, research associate, Centre of Numerical Mathematics, FMP CU;
  • 1969-1980, physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA); 1980, scientific worker (from 1984, head scientific worker), Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (CIT), Pasadena, California (USA);
  • 1970-1980, Deputy Director, Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (International Astronomical Union);
  • 1977-1980, member, Comet Science Working Group, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
  • 1977-1980, consultant, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CIT;
  • 1980-1989, member, scientific team (co-investigator) in Dust Impact Detector System (DIDSY) experiment on Giotto interplanetary probe sent aloft by European Space Agency (ESA) to Halley’s comet;
  • 1980-1989, principal U.S. co-investigator in Particulate Impact Analyzer (PIA) experiment on same interplanetary probe;
  • 1980-1989, member, NASA/ESA Comet Halley Environment Working Group, reorganized (1982) as Interagency Comet Halley Environment Working Group;
  • 1982-1991, scientific editor, The Comet Halley Archive, International Halley Watch (IHW);
  • 1982-1991, discipline specialist, IHW Near-nucleus Studies Network;
  • 1986, member, consulting editorial board, International Comet Quarterly;
  • 1988-1991, co-investigator, number of cometary projects for Hubble Space Telescope; 1994-present, co-investigator for STARDUST Discovery Mission project;
  • 1996, member, fourth working group for Formation and Composition of Comets project, International Space Science Institute, Bern (Switzerland)

Membership in selected domestic scientific bodies:

  • 1946-1969, Member, Czechoslovak Astronomical Society
  • 1963-1969, member, editorial board, Kosmické rozhledy
  • 2001, elected honorary member, Czech Astronomical Society

Membership and positions in international organizations and societies:

  • 1967, Member, International Astronomical Union (IAU) Commission 15, 20 and 22, member, Organization Committee of Commission 22
  • 1976-1982, Member, Organization Committee of Commission 15
  • 1979-1985, 1988-1994, Member, Working Group of Commission 15 pro Komety
  • 1976, Member, Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), Working Group 3, Panel C (cosmic dust), reorganized in 1979 as Interdisciplinary Scientific Commission B, Sub-commission B.1 (Space Related Studies of Small Bodies in the Solar System); Executive Committee Member, American Astronomical Society)
  • 1981-1989, Member, Planetary Society
  • 2000, Member, Division for Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society

Notable awards:

  • 1976, Asteroid 1913 named “Sekanina” by IAU
  • 1980, Plaque for Excellent Scientific Achievement, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • 1985, Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, NASA
  • Listed in Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in Science and Engineering; American Men and Women of Science, 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century, International Biographical Centre.

Selected publications:

  • Rotation and Precession of Cometary Nuclei. Annual review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 9, 113-145 (1981)
  • The Problem of Split Comets in Review. Comets (L. L. Wilkenig, ed.), University of Arizona, Tucson, 251-287 (1982)
  • The Tunguska Event: No Cometary Signature in Evidence. Astronomical Journal 88, 1382-1414 (1983)
  • Cometary Activity, Discrete Outgassing Areas, and Dust-Jet Formation. Comets in the Post-Halley Era (R. L. Newburn Jr., M. Neugebauer, J. Rahe, Ed.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 769-823 (1991)
  • Encke, the comet. Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 85, 324-376 (1991).
  • Comprehensive Model for the Nucleus of Periodic Comet Tempel 2 and Its Activity. Astronomical Journal 102, 350-388 (1991)
  • Tidal Breakup of the Nucleus of Comet Shoemaker-Loevy 9. The Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Loevy 9 and Jupiter (K. S. Noll, H. A. Weaver, P. d. Feldman, ed.), Cambridge University, Cambridge, U.K., 55-80 (1996)
  • Detection of a Satellite Orbiting the Nucleus of the Hale-Bopp Comet (C/1995 O1). Earth, Moon, and Planets 77, 155-163 (1999)
  • Cometary Dust (Z. Sekanina, M. S. Hanner, E. K. Jessberger, M. N. Fomenkova). Interplanetary Dust (E. Gruen, B. A. S. Gustafson, S. F. Dermott, H. Fechtig, ed.), Springer Verlag (Astronomy and Astrophysics Library), Berlin. Heidelberg, 95-161 (2001).
  • Statistical Investigation and Modeling of Sungrazing Comets Discovered with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Astrophysical Journal 566, 577-598 (2002).

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Reaction to the case of Tomáš Hudlický: Members of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic support the freedom of expression

„We believe that free exchange of ideas is a key condition for the pursuit of truth and that the honest opinions should be scrutinized, challenged or rebutted but not censored or suppressed,“ say 45 members of the Learned Society in a statement regarding the retracted opinion paper by Prof. Tomáš Hudlický.


The letter by Jan Konvalinka to the President and Vice-Chancellor of the Brock University regarding the retracted article of Prof. Tomáš Hudlický

Opinions could and should be challenged, questioned or refuted but never silenced. In order to be able to think, we have to have the right to inquire, question and even offend or be mistaken,” writes Assoc. Prof. Jan Konvalinka, a biochemist at the IOCB Prague and the Vice-Rector of the Charles University, to Gervan Fearon.


Prof Miroslav Bárta receives the Česká hlava National Government Award

Learned Society member, Prof. Mgr. Miroslav Bárta, Dr. (Charles University Faculty of Arts) received the Česká hlava (Czech Head) National Government Award on 25 November 2019. A renowned Czech Egyptologist and archaeologist, Professor Bárta researches the history of ancient civilisations, the human relationship to the natural environment, and also for many years the evolution of complex societies. He leads the Czech Institute of Egyptology for archaeological and environmental research in Egypt and Sudan. His principal research interest is the period of the pyramid builders of the Old Kingdom.