David Mittelman’s ‘76 love for astronomy started right here at Middlebury College when he walked into Professor Frank Winkler’s Introduction to the Universe course as a sophomore in the 1970s. While Mittelman went on to a career in money management, his love of science and the stars continued to be a true joy of his — so much so that he often spent his nights photographing the universe above with close friends. Mittelman embarked on ambitious imaging projects such as surveying the night sky in the deep-red light of hydrogen alpha, a technique that reveals the rich tapestry of glowing hydrogen gas spread throughout our Milky Way galaxy. He also applied new technologies to photographing areas of the sky covered by historic surveys, allowing broader wavelength coverage and adding enhanced sensitivity.
Mittelman was deliberate about linking his love of astronomy with education in the hope that both present and future generations can enjoy the wonders and humility sparked by the skies above. His love of astronomy was contagious and he embarked on exploring the universe with joy and quiet amazement.
In order to share both his passion for the night sky and telescopes as a learning tool, Mittelman worked to bring both equipment and technologies to students and make them increasingly accessible with remote-operations capabilities. For this and his other astronomical activities, the International Astronomical Union honored him by naming asteroid 16779 Mittelman in 2017. This minor planet circles the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
“The concepts of how much can be learned through the analysis of light were stunning intellectual revelations that have bounced around in my mind for years,” Mittelman said when endowing the Frank Winkler Professorship in 2014. “Much of our future lies with decoding and understanding the mysteries of our universe.”
Middlebury College proudly honors David R. Mittelman ’76, P’08, ’10, ’13 for his years of service to Middlebury and his lifelong passion for physics and astronomy.
David R. Mittelman served as a Middlebury trustee from 2008-2017.
In memoriam gifts may be made to The David R. Mittelman Fund at Middlebury College. Gifts may be sent to: Middlebury College, Office of Gift Administration, Attn: Mittelman Fund, 700 Exchange Street, Middlebury, VT 05753 or made online.