Donald Machholz was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1952, and found his interest in astronomy at the early age of 8.
By the mid 70's he developed a mapping system that assisted him with comet hunting and after 1700 hours of searching, he visually discovered his first comet on September 12, 1978. Machholz is the most successful living visual comet hunter in the world, being credited with the discovery of 11 comets that bear his name.
Machholz is considered to be one of the inventors of the Messier marathon, which is a race to observe all the Messier objects in a single night and has completed 45 marathons in the past 35 years.
An author of several publications, "A Decade of Comets," (1985), "An Observer's Guide to Comet Hale-Bopp," (1996), "The Observing Guide to the Messier Marathon," (2002) Cambridge University Press, and from 1978 until 2000 Machholz authored a monthly column titled, "Comet Comments."
Machholz continues to visually search for comets and lives in the Aquarius Mountains in Arizona with his wife, Michele.