Richard W. Pogge

College of Arts & Sciences
Distinguished Professor of Astronomy

The Ohio State University, Department of Astronomy

Photo Richard Pogge standing next to the Sloan Focal Plane System instrument in November 2021 Originally from the Indian Wells Valley in California's Northern Mojave Desert, I attended Sherman E. Burroughs High School (Class of 1979) in Ridgecrest, California, otherwise known as the "Gateway to Death Valley", and home of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (it was just NOTS, then NWC, when I was there). While at China Lake I was a member of the China Lake Astronomical Society, the folks who helped give me a start in Astronomy, and Boy Scout Troop 35, to whom I owe my abiding love of the outdoors. In 1979 I left the desert to attend Caltech, where I received my BS in Physics in 1983. At Caltech I was a member of Dabney House, and a sometime member of the infamous InfraRed Army. After graduation I headed north up the coast to UC Santa Cruz, where I received my PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics in 1988. After a year at the University of Texas at Austin as a McDonald Fellow, I arrived at The Ohio State University as a postdoc in 1989, joining the faculty of the Astronomy Department in 1992 as an Assistant Professor. I have been a Full Professor of Astronomy at OSU since 2003. In 2021 I was named a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Astronomy.

My primary research is concerned with the astrophysics of gaseous nebulae and active galactic nuclei as revealed through imaging and spectrophotometry at optical, UV, and infrared wavelengths with ground-based and space-based telescopes. I've followed three lines of inquiry. The first seeks to refine measurements of the masses of supermassive black holes in nearby active galaxies with the goal of calibrating the key scaling relations that will allow us to extend local methods out to cosmological distances. The second used the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes to study how local active nuclei are fed by gas from their host galaxies, and how that activity in turn feeds back upon their hosts. The third is to use precision spectrophotometry to measure direct and empirical elemental gas-phase abundances in star formation regions to trace the chemical evolution history of galaxies from the Big Bang to the present.

At home in the Milky Way, I have joined in the search for planets around other stars. I am part of the MicroFUN collaboration based at OSU that has organized a worldwide network of amateur and professional telescopes to make coordinated observations to search for extrasolar planetary systems using gravitational microlensing. I have also been engaged searches for and detailed follow-up studies of transiting exoplanets, through the KELT North, KELT South, and DEMONEXT projects, as well as exploring new techniques using adaptive optics.

Research requires the best data, and to collect that data I have devoted much of my career to the the design and construction of advanced astronomical instruments, including development of software for image processing, spectral analysis, and instrument control & data acquisition. Instruments I have helped develop are in regular use at the MDM Observatory in Arizona and on the SMARTS telescopes in Chile. My biggest instrumentation projects to date are the two Multi-Object Double Spectrographs (MODS) on the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham in Arizona and the robotic Focal Plane Systems for the SDSS-V project.


Curriculum Vitae (PDF/A)
Bibliography (PDF/A)


In-Person Courses

Astronomy 2291: Basic Astrophysics & Planetary Astronomy - Autumn Semester 2022
Astronomy 1101: From Planets to the Cosmos - Spring Semester 2023
Previous Courses
Introductory Teaching Resources
Course Podcasts (2006-2009): [Ast 161|Ast 162|Ast 141]

Online Courses:

From Planets to the Cosmos (on ScarletCanvas)
Introduction to Solar System Astronomy (on Apple Podcasts)
Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe (on Apple Podcasts)
Life in the Universe (on Apple Podcasts)

Ohio State Astrophysics Series


Editor in Chief: Barbara Ryden
Technical Editor: Richard Pogge
The Ohio State Astrophysics Series (OSAS) is a series of textbooks based on the core graduate astrophysics courses taught at OSU and published by Cambridge University Press. These books are not exhaustive monographs, but instead adopt the back-of-envelope philosophy of our "Order of Magnitude Astrophysics" course to emphasize the most important physical principles in each subfield of astrophysics. The goal is to make our series a point of entry into the deeper and more detailed classical textbooks in our field. Although each volume in OSAS will stand on its own, care is taken to unify notation and vocabulary as much as possible across volumes, and emphasis will be placed on physical concepts that unite the different subfields of astronomy.


Volume 1: Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium, Barbara Ryden & Richard Pogge, April 2021, Cambridge University Press
Volume 2: Stellar Structure and Evolution, Marc Pinsonneault & Barbara Ryden, April 2023, Cambridge University Press
Volume 3: Celestial and Stellar Dynamics, Barbara Ryden - 2024
Volume 4: Astrophysical Gas Dynamics, Barbara Ryden - 2025
The first OSAS book, Interstellar and Intergalactic Medium, had its origins as an experimental eBook funded by the OSU Office of Distance Education and eLearning's 2015 Book Launch initiative. A second Book Launch grant supported a Dynamics eBook project that will be split into 2 volumes for OSAS.