Joseph Harrington

Joseph Harrington

Pegasus Professor

Department of Physics

PSB 441 / PSB 355 (lab)


Research Groups


Dr. Harrington began observing and modeling giant planets as an undergraduate at MIT. His pre-impact model of the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994, part of his MIT PhD thesis in planetary sciences, was published on the cover of Nature and sparked the worldwide media spree surrounding that event. Dr. Harrington then held a National Research Council Fellowship at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, during which he modeled the aftermath of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact and also identified the majority of planetary waves known on planets other than Earth. From 1997 – 2006, he worked as a staff scientist at Cornell University, where his interests shifted to observing extrasolar planets. He was part of the team that first measured light from an extrasolar planet, a result published in Nature in April 2005. He continues this work at UCF, leading the Spitzer Exoplanet Target of Opportunity Program, which measured eclipses and transits of new exoplanets with the Spitzer Space Telescope. He won the 2011 College of Sciences Excellence in Research Award for this work. He has won several UCF Research Incentive Awards and was named a UCF Pegasus Professor in 2020. He was Chair of UCF’s Faculty Senate and a member of the UCF Board of Trustees from 2020-2022. A co-founder of the Planetary Sciences Track in the UCF Physics PhD program, he developed AST 5165 Planetary Atmospheres, AST 5765/4762 (Advanced) Astronomical Data Analysis, and PHZ 3150 Introduction to Numerical Computing. He teaches a version of AST 2002 Astronomy that uses a video game to teach rather than traditional textbook and lecturing.