Chris Impey

Associate Dean, College of Science

Distinguished Professor of Astronomy

Astronomer at the Steward Observatory

Headshot of Chris Impey


Black holes take a bite out of space and time. Enjoy a series of bite-sized tours of their bizarre properties at your own pace in our digital oasis.

Black holes are endlessly fascinating. In the past few years, we’ve seen the first image of a black hole, one six billion times the mass of the Sun, and gravity waves have been detected from pairs of merging black holes, their space-time ripples reaching us after traveling for a billion years. Black holes range from a few times the mass of the Sun to behemoths a billion times more massive. Join Professor Chris Impey for a set of short tours of the jaw-dropping properties of these enigmatic objects. The bite sized lectures will cover “Bending Space and Time,” “Black Holes from Stellar Corpses,” “Black Holes as Gravity Engines,” “Black Holes and Space-Time Ripples,” and “Death by Black Hole.” The presenter’s most recent book is “Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes.”


Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor. For 17 years he was Deputy Head of the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona, and he is currently Associate Dean of the College of Science. He has over 200 refereed publications and 70 conference proceedings in astronomy, and 70 publications on educational topics. His work has been supported by $20 million in grants from NASA and the NSF. As a professor, he has won eleven teaching awards, and has been heavily involved in curriculum and instructional technology development. He has mentored 30 graduate students and 230 undergraduates. Chris Impey is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society. He has also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, and Carnegie Council on Teaching’s Arizona Professor of the Year. He was a co-chair of the Education and Public Outreach Study Group for the 2010 Decadal Survey of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2014 he was the first astronomer named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor.

Chris Impey aims to convey the excitement of astronomy in as many ways as possible to a large public audience. He gives 20 public talks a year, to audiences as large as 5000 and as varied as NASA engineers, first graders, and judges of the Ninth Circuit Court. For a decade, he has traveled to India to teach Buddhist monks in a program started by the Dalai Lama. He designed and led 3 tours for donors and alumni of landmarks of science and culture: “Visiting Galileo’s Italy,” “Exploring Chile: Earth and Sky,” and “Britain in the Golden Age of Science.” He has written over forty popular articles on cosmology and astrobiology and co-authored two introductory textbooks. He has published eight trade science books: The Living Cosmos (2007, Random House), How It Ends (2010, W.W. Norton), How It Began (2012, W.W. Norton), Talking About Life (2010, Cambridge), Dreams of Other Worlds (2013, Princeton), Humble Before the Void (2014, Templeton), Beyond (2015, W.W. Norton), and Einstein’s Monsters (2018, W.W. Norton). His first novel, Shadow World, was published in 2013. His “Teach Astronomy” web site has had over two million unique visitors, and his YouTube lectures and videos have over half a million views. He has surveyed over 22,000 college students and members of the general public on their science literacy and attitudes towards science. About 180,000 adults from 160 countries have enrolled in his three Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs), watching over two million minutes of video lectures since 2013.