Bio: Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany in 1879, he had a passion for inquiry that eventually led him to develop the special and general theories of relativity. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect and immigrated to the U.S. in the following decade after being targeted by the Nazis. Einstein is generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century, with his work also having a major impact on the development of atomic energy. With a focus on unified field theory during his later years, Einstein died on April 18, 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey.
Juicy: Einstein was asked to be the president of Israel, but he declined: After Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, died in 1952, the country's prime minister offered the job to Einstein.
Contribution: Special Theory of Relativity
Bio: Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564, in Pisa, Italy, Galileo Galilei was a mathematics professor who made pioneering observations of nature with long-lasting implications for the study of physics. He also constructed a telescope and supported the Copernican theory, which supports a sun-centered solar system. Galileo was accused twice of heresy by the church for his beliefs, and wrote books on his ideas. He died in Arcetri, Italy, on January 8, 1642.
Juicy: Galileo never married and had all his children out of wedlock with Marina Gambia, whom he met on a trip to Venice.
Contribution: Galileo discovered the mountains on the moon, the spots on the sun, and four moons of Jupiter.
Bio: Born at Saint-Lô in Normandy on March 11, 1811, U. J. J. Leverrier entered the highly competitive école Polytechnique to prepare for a career as a professional scientist. His early interest was in chemistry; but when the teaching post in astronomy fell vacant at the Polytechnique in 1837, Leverrier took it and thereby entered the discipline in which he was to spend the rest of his life. He died in Paris on Sept. 23, 1877.
Juicy: Le Verrier's name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Contribution: Predicted the existence and position of Neptune.
Bio: Born in Hanover, Brunswick-Lüneburg on November 15, 1738, William Herschel’s father was a musician who worked for German Army. Following the French invasion of Hanover in 1757, his father sent him to seek refuge in England, where Herschel became a music teacher and composer. He then built his own telescope and started exploring on his own and discovered Uranus. William Herschel was appointed a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1813, and was knighted three years later in 1816. He died on August 25, 1822 in Slough, Berkshire. Herschel was 83 years old.
Juicy: During his first concert on January 1, 1767 he played the organ, and performed his own violin concerto, an oboe concerto and a harpsichord sonata.
Contribution: He found the planet Uranus and its two moons, and formulated a theory of stellar evolution
Bio: Clyde Tombaugh was born on February 4, 1906, Streator, Illinois, U.S.—died January 17, 1997, Las Cruces, New Mexico. An American astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 after a systematic search for a ninth planet instigated by the predictions of other astronomers. He also discovered several clusters of stars and galaxies, studied the apparent distribution of extragalactic nebulae, and made observations of the surfaces of Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.
Juicy: Tombaugh is the great uncle of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw through the daughter of his youngest brother, Robert M., Tombaugh.
Contribution: Discovered the first dwarf planet, Pluto.
Bio: Percival Lawrence Lowell was born on March 13, 1855, to a prominent, wealthy Bostonian family. Son of Augustus and Katherine Bigelow Lowell, young Percival attended Harvard University and graduated in 1876 with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics. After college, Lowell worked in his family's textile business. In 1882, a lecture on Japan inspired him to travel to the Far East. He served as a foreign secretary to the Korean Special Mission, part of the first Korean diplomatic mission, in 1883. In 1908, Lowell married Constance Savage Keith. They had no children.
Juicy: Lowell claimed to "stick to church" though at least one current author describes him as an agostic.
Contribution: His search for Planet X led to the discovery of Pluto. His realization that superior observational work can be conducted only where atmospheric conditions are superior is his greatest contribution to astronomy.
Bio: Born on January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, England, Isaac Newton was an established physicist and mathematician, and is credited as one of the great minds of the 17th century Scientific Revolution. With discoveries in optics, motion and mathematics, Newton developed the principles of modern physics. In 1687, he published his most acclaimed work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), which has been called the single most influential book on physics. Newton died in London on March 31, 1727.
Juicy: Newton was fascinated with religion, though didn’t hold orthodox views. He wrote an article on textual criticism of the Bible.
Contribution: He developed the three laws of motion which form the basic principles of modern physics.
Bio: Vera Rubin was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Washington, D.C. She earned her B.A. at Vassar College and her M.A. at Cornell University, where she made one of the first studies of deviations from the Hubble flow in the motions of galaxies. This work turned out to be the precursor of studies of the local supercluster. After earning her Ph.D. at Georgetown University under George Gamow, she taught at Montgomery County Junior College and at Georgetown. From 1965 until her retirement she was at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Juicy: Her physics teacher discouraged her from studying astronomy and told her to stay away from science.
Contribution: Established the presence of dark matter in galaxies.
Bio: Edwin Hubble was born on November 20, 1889. He graduated from the University of Chicago and served in WWI before settling down to lead research in the field of astrophysics at Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Hubble's revolutionary work includes finding a constant relationship between galaxies' redshift and distance, which helped to eventually prove that the universe is expanding. Additionally, a classification system that he created for galaxies has been used by other researchers for decades, now known as the Hubble sequence. Hubble married Grace Burke on February 26, 1924. The couple never had children. He died on September 28, 1953
Juicy: Hubble excelled at sports, particularly track and field—as a high school student, he broke the Illinois state high jump record.
Contribution: He was the first to demonstrate the existence of other galaxies besides the Milky Way, profoundly changing the way we look at the universe.
Nova - A star showing a sudden large increase in brightness and then slowly returning to its original state over a few months.
Supernova - A supernova is an astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star's life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion.
Open cluster - An open cluster is a group of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same giant molecular cloud and have roughly the same age.
Globular cluster - A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite.
Nebula - A cloud of gas and dust in outer space, visible in the night sky either as an indistinct bright patch or as a dark silhouette against other luminous matter.
Galaxy - A system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.
Quasar - A massive and extremely remote celestial object, emitting exceptionally large amounts of energy, and typically having a starlike image in a telescope.
Black hole - A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Pulsar - A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star or white dwarf, that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation.
Black dwarf - A black dwarf is a theoretical stellar remnant, specifically a white dwarf that has cooled sufficiently that it no longer emits significant heat or light.
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process.
Solar flare - is a sudden flash of brightness observed near the Sun's surface.
Solar prominence - (also known as a filament when viewed against the solar disk) is a large, bright feature extending outward from the Sun's surface.
Sunspot - are temporary phenomena on the photosphere of the Sun that appear as dark spots compared with surrounding regions.
Solar wind - the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun that permeates the solar system.
Auroras - an incredible light show caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.
Solar eclipse - As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun.
Jupiter - is the largest planet in the solar system. When approached from afar, its fantastic striped atmosphere gradually reveals intriguing clouds that move around the planet. Rich in historical and cultural connections, Jupiter is the site of recent comet impacts and continuing scientific discovery.
Moon - A natural satellite of a planet; an object that revolves around a planet. he planets vary in the number of their moons; for example, Mercury and Venus have none, the Earth has one, and Jupiter has seventeen or more. The planets' moons, like the planets themselves, shine by reflected light.
Eau de Cosmos
Though it is impossible to smell space directly or through a spacesuit, astronauts report that upon returning from a spacewalk, their gear smells distinctively like seared steak, hot metal, and arc welding fumes. The source of this odor could be byproduct from dying stars, the traces of which can be found throughout the universe.
When you look into the night sky, you are looking back in time.
The stars we see in the night sky are very far away from us, so far the star light we see has taken a long time to travel across space to reach our eyes. This means whenever we look out into the night and gaze at stars we are actually experiencing how they looked in the past.
There are anywhere between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way and an estimated 100 billion planets. Around one in five stars are like our sun, and astronomers have estimated that about 22% of them have planets the size of Earth in their habitable zone, where water can exist as a liquid. This means there could be 8.8 billion planets within the galaxy capable of supporting life (not accounting for composition of the planet or its atmosphere).