Astronomers

Kids have always looked up at the sky and wondered what those glimmering lights, lighting up the night sky are? Some of these kids grow fascinated by the glimmering lights and grow up to make these lights their life’s work. We call them astronomers; people who study the stars, planets, galaxies and even the asteroids. These scientists have existed for countless years and have made a considerable impact on the world we live in; it was the Mayan astronomers who gave us the famous Mayan calendar according to which, the world would have ended on the 21st of December 2012. It was astronomers who first suggested the theory that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around and the earth was not the center of the universe or our galaxy, for that matter. The invaluable work that astronomers do is dedicated to better understanding the universe, of which the earth is a part. This work has, at times, incurred the wrath of the people because at one time the understanding of the science was not as explicit as it is today and neither was the awareness about it.
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 1 Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking.
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Famous As: Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who despite being afflicted motor neurone disease that severely limited his physical abilities, was able to build a phenomenally successful career. He was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking was ranked 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, in 2002.

 2 Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: February 15, 1564
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pisa, Italy
Died: January 8, 1642

An Italian astronomer, engineer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei is widely regarded as the father of observational astronomy, the father of the scientific method, the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science. He is credited with popularizing the telescope, which changed the course of history.

 3 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson.
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Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: October 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”

 4 Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Writer
Birthdate: November 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died: December 20, 1996
Pulitzer- and Emmy-winning astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan was best known for co-writing the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. His novel Contact was adapted into a film. He was known for his extensive research on extra-terrestrial life, had taught at major universities, and written countless papers and science books.
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 5 Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus.
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Birthdate: February 19, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toruń
Died: May 24, 1543

Nicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with formulating Heliocentrism, which led to the Copernican Revolution. Although Aristarchus of Samos had formulated Heliocentrism 18 centuries earlier, Copernicus was responsible for popularizing it. Copernicus is also credited with formulating an economic principle, which was later called Gresham's law.

 6 Archimedes

Archimedes.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Engineer, Inventor, Physicist, Astronomer
Birthdate: 0287 BC
Birthplace: Syracuse, Italy
Died: 0212 BC
Greek mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Archimedes is remembered for his contribution to mathematics, especially geometry. He laid down theorems related to the area of a circle, and the area and volume of a sphere, and reached an accurate value of pi. He also invented machines such as the screw pump.
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 7 Carl F. Gauss

Carl F. Gauss.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: April 30, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brunswick, Germany
Died: February 23, 1855

German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss is remembered for his work in math and science. Known as the Princeps mathematicorum, he laid down tenets such as the Gauss's Law. He had exhibited his talent since an early age and had completed writing Disquisitiones Arithmeticae by 21.

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 8 Avicenna

Avicenna.
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Famous As: Persian Plymath
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Birthplace: Afshona, Uzbekistan
Died: May 31, 1037
Renowned as father of early modern medicine, Avicenna was an illustrious Persian polymath. He is specifically distingusihed for his contributions in the fields of medicine and Aristotelian philisophy. He is best-known for his works namely, The Canon of Medicine and The Book of Healing. The corpus of his writings also include alchemy, geology, psychology, geography, physics, poetry and Islamic theology.
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 9 Claudius Ptolemy

Claudius Ptolemy.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Cartographer & Mathematician
Birthdate: 0090 AD
Birthplace: Egypt
Died: 0168 AD
Claudius Ptolemy was a 2nd-century mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and geographer, who had written a number of scientific treatises, such as The Great Treatise, Geography, and the Tetrábiblos. He lived in Alexandria under the Roman rule in Egypt. He had also authored Harmonics, a book on music theory.

 10 Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: December 27, 1571
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Weil der Stadt, Germany
Died: November 15, 1630

This 17th-century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer is remembered for his pathbreaking work on optics. He invented a developed version of the refracting telescope. He also laid down Kepler's laws of planetary motion and wrote Astronomia Nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae.

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 11 Aryabhata

Aryabhata.
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Birthdate: 0476 AD
Birthplace: Assaka
Died: 0550 AD
Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata pioneered the concept of “zero” and used it in his “place value system.” He had also worked on the approximation of pi and laid down the basic concepts of trigonometry, such as sine and cosine. He also mentioned that the Earth rotates on its axis.

 12 Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke.
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 28, 1635
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: March 3, 1703

Scientist Robert Hooke, also called England's Leonardo, initially gained recognition as an architect, conducting surveys following the Great Fire of London. He also taught geometry and was part of the Royal Society. He assisted Robert Boyle and eventually developed his own microscope, thus becoming the first to visualize micro-organisms.

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 13 Hypatia

Hypatia.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher, Astronomer, Writer
Birthdate: 0360 AD
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 0415 AD
Hypatia was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who lived during the 4th and 5th centuries. She also taught and served as a counselor. She is remembered for her commentary on Diophantus's Arithmetica. She was later murdered and became a symbol of feminism and of opposition to Catholic ideals.

 14 Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 14, 1546
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knutstorp Castle, Sweden
Died: October 24, 1601
Danish astronomer and writer Tycho Brahe, an heir to a noble family, was one of the last greatest naked-eye astronomers. According to the Tychonic system of astronomy, the Sun orbited the Earth. His assistant Johannes Kepler used Tycho's astronomical data to form his laws of planetary motion.
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 15 Eratosthenes

Eratosthenes.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 0276 BC
Birthplace: Cyrene, Greece
Died: 0195 BC

Greek polymath Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a mathematician, poet, geographer, music theorist, and astronomer. He also served as the Library of Alexandria’s chief librarian. He was also the first to calculate the Earth’s circumference and the tilt of the Earth's axis. Nicknamed Pentathlos, he also invented many scientific terms.

 16 Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 18, 1048
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nishapur, Khorasan, Iran
Died: December 4, 1131

Omar Khayyam was a Persian polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. In the field of mathematics, he is best known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations. As an astronomer, he designed a solar calendar known as the Jalali calendar. His philosophical attitude towards life had elements of pessimism, nihilism, Epicureanism, and fatalism. 

 17 Georges Lemaître

Georges Lemaître.
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Famous As: Scientist & Priest
Birthdate: July 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charleroi, Belgium
Died: June 20, 1966

Georges Lemaître was a mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics. Lemaître was the first person to theorize that the expansion of the universe can be used to explain the recession of nearby galaxies. In 1927, Lemaître published the first estimation of the Hubble constant. He also came up with the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe.

 18 Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 0780 AD
Birthplace: Khwarezm
Died: 0850 AD

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian polymath credited with producing influential works in the fields of geography, astronomy, and mathematics. He is referred to as the founder or father of algebra as he was the first person to recognize algebra as an independent discipline. He also made significant contributions to trigonometry; he produced precise sine and cosine tables.

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 19 Edwin Powell Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble.
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Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: November 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marshfield, Missouri, USA
Died: September 28, 1953

While the Hubble Telescope, named after Edwin Powell Hubble, reminds one of his contribution to astronomy, he failed to get a Nobel Prize, as back in his time, the Nobel Committee didn’t recognize astrophysics as a valid science. He is best remembered for his work on galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

 20 Thales

Thales.
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0624 BC
Birthplace: Miletus Ancient Theater, Turkey
Died: 0546 BC

One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, Thales was a 6th-century mathematician who believed that the Earth was a flat disk floating on a huge ocean. Legend has it that he had predicted a solar eclipse that stopped a major battle and had also laid down several geometrical theorems.

 21 Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon Laplace.
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge
Died: March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the Newton of France, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

 22 Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker.
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Famous As: Compiler of Almanacs
Birthdate: November 9, 1731
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Baltimore County
Died: October 9, 1806

Benjamin Banneker was born to a free African-American mother and a former slave father, and was largely self-educated. While he showed immense talent in both mathematics and astronomy, having predicted a solar eclipse with precision, he also wrote essays on civil rights and rallied against slavery.

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 23 Walter Lewin

Walter Lewin
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Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher, Astrophysicist, Physicist
Birthdate: January 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Hague

 24 William Herschel

William Herschel.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Composer
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: August 21, 1822

William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry and discovered infrared radiation. Impressed by his work, King George III appointed him the Court Astronomer. Herschel often collaborated with his sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, a fellow astronomer. In 1816, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order. 

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 25 Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren.
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Famous As: Architect
Birthdate: October 20, 1632
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Knoyle
Died: February 25, 1723

 26 Ibn-al-Haytham

Ibn-al-Haytham.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: July 1, 0965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Basra, Iraq
Died: March 6, 1040

Ibn al-Haytham was an Arab mathematician, physicist, and astronomer of the Islamic Golden Age. He is best remembered for his contributions to the principles of optics for which he is called the father of modern optics. He was the first person to explain visual perception. A polymath, Ibn al-Haytham also wrote influential books on philosophy, medicine, and theology. 

 27 Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huygens.
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist
Birthdate: April 14, 1629
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: July 8, 1695

From proposing the wave theory of light to discovering the actual shape of the rings of Saturn and inventing the pendulum clock, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens had contributed a lot to science. Born to a diplomat, Huygens had the privilege of an elite education but remain sickly throughout his life.

 28 James Glaisher

James Glaisher
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Famous As: Meteorologists
Birthdate: April 7, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, London, England
Died: February 7, 1903
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 29 J. Allen Hynek

Josef Allen Hynek.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Ufologist
Birthdate: May 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: April 27, 1986

When the American government, baffled by unexplained sightings of flying objects, assigned J. Allen Hynek the task of solving the mystery, Hynek was sceptical. However, he later became the first person to scientifically analyze such sightings. He also established the "Close Encounter" classification system to study UFOs.

 30 Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: March 16, 1750
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: January 9, 1848

Caroline Herschel was a German astronomer who is credited with the discovery of many comets, such as 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which is named in her honor. In 1828, Herschel became the first woman to be honored with a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also the first female scientist to receive a salary.

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 31 Aristarchus of Samos

Aristarchus of Samos
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Birthdate: 0000 BC
Birthplace: Samos Island

 32 Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: November 8, 1656
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haggerston, Shoreditch, London, England
Died: January 14, 1742

 33 Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
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Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars. She graduated from the University of Glasgow and pursued an academic career. In 2018, she received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of radio pulsars. She donated the three million dollars she received as prize money.  

 34 Jabir Ibn Hayyan

Jabir Ibn Hayyan.
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Famous As: Alchemist
Birthdate: 0721 AD
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: 0815 AD

Eighth-century alchemist and physician Jabir Ibn Hayyan has been credited with too many written works. Experts believe his vast works may not have been written by a single person. The Jabirian corpus, a collection of his works, is known for its "method of the balance" and its focus on chemistry.

 35 Brahmagupta

Brahmagupta.
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Famous As: Mathematician and Astronomer
Birthdate: 0598 AD
Birthplace: Bhinmal
Died: 0670 AD

 36 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: January 25, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: April 10, 1813

Joseph Louis Lagrange was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who made significant contributions to the fields of number theory, analysis, and both classical and celestial mechanics. He served as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin for over 20 years. He later moved to France and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. 

 37 Clyde Tombaugh

Clyde Tombaugh
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Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Streator
Died: January 17, 1997

Though he wasn’t formally educated in astronomy, Clyde Tombaugh was immensely interested in the subject since childhood and had built his own telescope after high school. He grew up to discover Pluto, then regarded as the ninth planet but later declared a "dwarf planet," and many other celestial bodies.

 38 Hipparchus

Hipparchus .
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Famous As: Astronomer & Mathematician
Birthdate: 0190 BC
Birthplace: Nicaea, Kingdom of Bithynia
Died: 0120 BC
In his early years in Bithynia, Hipparchus spent most of his time compiling weather records. He devoted almost his entire life to astronomical research. Remembered as the man who founded trigonometry, he also discovered the precession of the equinoxes. However, most of his written work hasn’t survived.

 39 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
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Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buckinghamshire
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

 40 Fred Hoyle

Fred Hoyle
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: June 24, 1915
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bingley, England
Died: August 20, 2001

Fred Hoyle was an English astronomer known for his theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He spent most of his career at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge, serving as its director for six years. He was also an author of science fiction novels, short stories, and plays and appeared in a series of radio talks on astronomy for the BBC.  

 41 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
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Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

 42 Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: July 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: December 25, 2016

 43 Arthur Eddington

Arthur Eddington.
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: December 28, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kendal
Died: November 22, 1944

Arthur Eddington was an English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician. He wrote numerous articles that explained Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. He began his career in academics and eventually shifted to astronomy, becoming the chief assistant to the Astronomer Royal at the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He was a recipient of the Henry Draper Medal. 

 44 Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Sir William Rowan Hamilton.
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: August 4, 1805
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: September 2, 1865

Son of a Dublin solicitor, Sir William Rowan Hamilton was raised and educated by his priest uncle from age 3. Initially a master of languages such as Latin, Greek, and Persian, Hamilton began deviating to math at 16. He is remembered for his contribution to optics, Hamiltonian mechanics, and algebra.

 45 Johann Georg Faust

Johann Georg Faust
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Famous As: astrologer, astronomer
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Birthplace: Knittlingen
Died: 1540 AD

Johann Georg Faust was an astrologer, magician, and itinerant alchemist of the German Renaissance. Faust is the subject of a local folk legend which claims that Johann Georg Faust managed to make a deal with the devil. His story was adapted by Christopher Marlowe in his 1604 Elizabethan tragedy, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.

 46 Gerolamo Cardano

Gerolamo Cardano
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Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: September 24, 1501
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: September 21, 1576

Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano is best known for his iconic work Ars magna, or The Great Art, which contributed immensely to the field of algebra. Throughout his illustrious life, he had been a physician, a math lecturer, and an astrologer. He was also the first to describe typhus fever clinically.

 47 Bhāskara II

Bhāskara II.
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Bijjaragi, Vijayapur, Karnataka
Died: 1185 AD

 48 Max Tegmark

Max Tegmark
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: May 5, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sweden

Born to math professor Harold S. Shapiro, Max Tegmark grew up to co-establish the Future of Life Institute, with funding from Elon Musk. The MIT professor is a specialist in cosmology, physics, and machine learning and had also penned a book on artificial intelligence, titled Life 3.0.

 49 John Herschel

John Herschel
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Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: March 7, 1792
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: May 11, 1871

 50 Anders Celsius

Anders Celsius.
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Famous As: Astronomer, Physicist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 27, 1701
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Uppsala
Died: April 25, 1744
Inventor of the centigrade or the Celcius scale of temperature, Swedish astronomer and scientist Anders Celsius was no stranger to science, being the son of an astronomy professor and the grandson of mathematician Magnus Celsius. His expeditions confirmed Isaac Newton's belief that the earth was flattened at the poles.
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