David Rankin hails from the remote and dark skies near the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, sparking his interest in astronomy from a young age. His initial encounter with the night sky and witnessing a bolide explosion left a lasting impression on him. Fascinated by celestial phenomena like Hale-Bopp, he eventually delved into astronomy during his early 20s.
David is a true Renaissance man with a diverse range of interests. Moving to the desert ignited a love for natural resources and the monsoon season, where he spends time photographing storms and capturing the beauty and danger of flash floods. He also has a deep-rooted passion for paleontology, having discovered and worked on excavations of various ancient creatures.
A prominent achievement is the discovery of the Plesiosaur Eopolycotylus Rankini, named after him, showcasing his paleontological expertise. In addition to his work in astronomy, David has also created software and systems to track and analyze asteroids, contributing significantly to the field.
Joining the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), David realized his dream of discovering celestial objects, including comets and asteroids. Notably, he discovered the impactor 2022 WJ1, an unprecedented find, and diligently tracked its trajectory leading up to its atmospheric impact. Despite this significant discovery, David remains aware of the possibility of a larger rock that could pose a threat, motivating his ongoing efforts in astronomical research and discovery. He affectionately named an NEO, Cecily, after his supportive wife, marking a special moment in his astronomical journey.