Astronomers

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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 
Galileo Galilei
(Known as “Father” of Observational Astronomy who Invented the ‘Thermoscope’ and Various Military Compasses)
Galileo Galilei
120
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.

 2 
Neil deGrasse Tyson
(American Astrophysicist, Planetary Scientist and Science Communicator)
Neil deGrasse Tyson
14
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.”

Aryabhata
15
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.
 4 
Carl Sagan
(Astronomer and Planetary Scientist Best Known for His Scientific Contribution in Research on Extraterrestrial Life)
Carl Sagan
9
Birthdate: November 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
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
(Mathematician)
Nicolaus Copernicus
8
Birthdate: February 19, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toruń, Poland
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 
Claudius Ptolemy
(Astronomer, Cartographer & Mathematician)
Claudius Ptolemy
6
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.
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 7 
Johannes Kepler
(Astronomer Best Known for his Laws of Plantery Motion)
Johannes Kepler
9
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.

 8 
Tycho Brahe
(Astronomer)
Tycho Brahe
8
Birthdate: December 14, 1546
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knutstorp Manor, 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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 9 
Edwin Powell Hubble
(Astronomer & Mathematician)
Edwin Powell Hubble
5
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.

 10 
Eratosthenes
(First Person to Calculate the Circumference of the Earth and Earth's Axial Tilt)
Eratosthenes
9
Birthdate: 0276 BC
Birthplace: Cyrene, Libya, Shahat, Libya
Died: 0194 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.

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 11 
Bhāskara II
(Mathematician)
Bhāskara II
10
Birthdate: 1114 AD
Birthplace: Bijjaragi, Vijayapur, Karnataka
Died: 1185 AD

Renowned 12th-century mathematician and astronomer Bhāskara II is remembered for producing the first written work with full use of the decimal system. Siddhānta-Śiromani remains his most notable work. He also worked on quadratic equations and succeeded Brahmagupta as the head of the Ujjain cosmic observatory.

 12 
Pierre-Simon Laplace
(Mathematician)
Pierre-Simon Laplace
6
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaumont-en-Auge, France
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.

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 13 
William Herschel
(Astronomer Known for His Discovery of 'Uranus' and 'Infrared Radiation')
William Herschel
6
Birthdate: November 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: August 23, 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. 

 14 
Christiaan Huygens
(Mathematician, Physicist)
Christiaan Huygens
9
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.

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 15 
Caroline Herschel
(Astronomer)
Caroline Herschel
5
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.

 16 
Joseph Louis Lagrange
(Mathematician)
Joseph Louis Lagrange
5
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. 

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 17 
Edmond Halley
(Mathematician known for Calculating the Orbit of a Comet & Was the Second Astronomer Royal in Britain)
Edmond Halley
6
Birthdate: November 8, 1656
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haggerston, London, England
Died: January 14, 1742

Edmond Halley was an English astronomer and mathematician who was mainly concerned with practical applications of science. He abandoned college education to travel to St. Helena. He published catalogue of 341 southern stars with telescopically determined locations. Known for his wide range of interest, he helped Newton to publish his magnum opus,  Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. He used Newton's Law of Motion to compute periodicty of Halley’s Comet.

 18 
Arthur Eddington
(Astronomer)
Arthur Eddington
123
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. 

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 19 
Hipparchus
(Astronomer & Mathematician)
Hipparchus
7
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.
 20 
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
6
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England
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. 

 21 
Clyde Tombaugh
(Astronomer, University teacher)
Clyde Tombaugh
5
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.

 22 
Stephen Hawking
(Theoretical Physicist - First to Set Out a Theory of Cosmology)
Stephen Hawking
13
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford, England
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.

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 23 
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
4
Birthdate: February 18, 1201
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tous, Iran
Died: June 26, 1274

Persian polymath Nasir al-Din al-Tusi lost his jurist father in childhood and then went around as a scholar, learning subjects such as math and philosophy. He made invaluable contribution to astronomy and later served as a scientific advisor of the Mongols. One of his notable written works was Akhlaq-i Nasiri.

 24 
Carl F. Gauss
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Tim)
Carl F. Gauss
7
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.

 25 
Avicenna
(Persian polymath the most significant physiciansand writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of early modern medicine.)
Avicenna
5
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.
 26 
Giovanni Domenico Cassini
(Astronomer and Mathematician)
Giovanni Domenico Cassini
4
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Perinaldo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1712
Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini is best remembered for his discovery of four moons of Saturn, the computation of Jupiter’s rotational period, and the observation of the Cassini Division, or the gap between Saturn’s rings. King Louis XIV made him a member of the Académie des Sciences
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 27 
Annie Jump Cannon
(Astronomer)
Annie Jump Cannon
5
Birthdate: December 11, 1863
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dover
Died: April 13, 1941

After studying physics and astronomy at Wellesley College, Annie Jump Cannon traveled across Europe and focused on photography for a decade, before venturing to study astronomy again. At the Harvard Observatory, she made a considerable contribution to the classification of stellar bodies. She was almost deaf due to scarlet fever.

 28 
Aristarchus of Samos
(Astronomer and Mathematician who presented the first known heliocentric model)
Aristarchus of Samos
5
Birthdate: 0310 AD
Birthplace: Samos, Greece
Died: 0230 AD

Aristarchus of Samos was an ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer best known for being the first person to present the heliocentric model at a time when the geocentric theories of Ptolemy and Aristotle were considered conventional. Aristarchus of Samos even estimated the sizes of the Moon and Sun and is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

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 29 
Robert Hooke
(Philosopher)
Robert Hooke
4
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.

 30 
Frank Drake
(American astronomer)
Frank Drake
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

American astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake is best-known for developing Drake equation and for his involvement in search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including founding of modern SETI. He performed Project Ozma, the first SETI experiment for searching signs of life in distant planetary systems. He also designed content of Arecibo message, an interstellar radio message, sent to globular star cluster M13.

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Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī
4
Birthdate: 0780 AD
Birthplace: Khwarazm, Uzbekistan
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.

 32 
Thales
(Philosopher)
Thales
4
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.

 33 
Julie Payette
(29th Governor General of Canada Who Served from 2017 to 2021)
Julie Payette
4
Birthdate: October 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canadian engineer and astronaut Julie Payette has been the Governor General of Canada from 2017 to 2021. She was initially a research scientist and then joined the Canadian Space Agency, eventually completing two spaceflights. Payette resigned as governor general after a workplace review accused her of workplace harassment.
 34 
Brahmagupta
(Mathematician and Astronomer)
Brahmagupta
13
Birthdate: 0598 AD
Birthplace: Bhinmal
Died: 0670 AD

Ancient Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta is best remembered for laying down rules to calculate with zero and for penning the texts Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta and Khaṇḍakhādyaka. His other achievements include his work on surds and positive and negative numbers. He also devised a formula for the area of a cyclic quadrilateral.

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 35 
Georges Lemaître
(Scientist & Priest)
Georges Lemaître
4
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.

 36 
Ibn-al-Haytham
(Arab Mathematician, Astronomer, and Physicist of the Islamic Golden Age)
Ibn-al-Haytham
4
Birthdate: 0965 AD
Birthplace: Basrah, Iraq
Died: 1040 AD

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. 

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 37 
Benjamin Banneker
(Compiler of Almanacs)
Benjamin Banneker
4
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.

 38 
Gerard Kuiper
(Dutch Astronomer, Planetary Scientist, Selenographer, Author and Professor)
Gerard Kuiper
3
Birthdate: December 7, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuitjenhorn, Netherlands
Died: December 23, 1973

Gerard Kuiper was blessed with an unusually sharp eyesight and could see stars clearly with the naked eye. The Dutch-born scientist later moved to the U.S., where he established the University of Arizona’s LPL. He also initiated research on the belt of comets surrounding the Sun, known as the Kuiper belt.

 39 
Walter Lewin
(Astronomer, University teacher, Astrophysicist, Physicist)
Walter Lewin
5
Birthdate: January 29, 1936
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Hague
 40 
Sir Christopher Wren
4
Birthdate: October 20, 1632
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Knoyle
Died: February 25, 1723

Architect Sir Christopher Wren had built over 50 churches in London, the most popular of them being the St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was a major force behind the formation of the Royal Society and was also knighted for his achievements. He was also a member of the English Parliament.

 41 
Charles Messier
(Astronomer)
Charles Messier
6
Birthdate: June 26, 1730
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Badonviller
Died: April 12, 1817

French astronomer Charles Messier is remembered for his pioneering tabulation of nebulae, making it easier to differentiate between nebulae and comets. King Louis XV name him The Comet Ferret. He was drawn to astronomy when he witnessed a solar eclipse and the great six-tailed comet in childhood.

 42 
Harlow Shapley
(Former astronomer known for determining correct position of Sun within Milky Way Galaxy; head of Harvard College Observatory (1921–1952))
Harlow Shapley
3
Birthdate: November 2, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nashville, Missouri, United States
Died: October 20, 1972

American scientist Harlow Shapley is best-remembered for ascertaining correct position of Sun within Milky Way Galaxy and for heading the Harvard College Observatory. He determined the size and shape of the Milky Way Galaxy and the Sun’s position within it using the Cepheid variable stars and wrote the Liquid Water Belt that provided scientific acceptance to Hubertus Strughold’s ecosphere theory.

 43 
Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi
(Persian astronomer)
Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi
3
Birthdate: December 7, 0903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shahr-e-Rey, Iran
Died: May 25, 0986

Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi was a Persian astronomer best remembered for his popular work The Book of Fixed Stars which he published in 964. The book was highly influential and is still extant in the form of various translations and manuscripts, the oldest being preserved at the Bodleian Library in the University of Oxford. 

 44 
Fritz Zwicky
(Swiss Astronomer Known For His Inference and Existence of Unseen 'Dark Matter' using Virial Theorem)
Fritz Zwicky
4
Birthdate: February 14, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Varna, Bulgaria
Died: February 8, 1974

Born to a businessman and diplomat father in Bulgaria, Fritz Zwicky was initially sent to Switzerland to study commerce but ended up deviating to math and physics. He then moved to the U.S. to work with Caltech and gained fame for his research on what he called the supernova.

 45 
J. Allen Hynek
(Astronomer, Ufologist)
J. Allen Hynek
4
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.

 46 
Eudoxus of Cnidus
(Greek astronomer)
Eudoxus of Cnidus
3
Birthdate: 0390 BC
Birthplace: Knidos
Died: 0337 AD
 47 
James Glaisher
(Meteorologists)
James Glaisher
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, London, England
Died: February 7, 1903

Renowned meteorologist and aeronaut James Glaisher was a pioneer of balloon flights and had penned the iconic book Travels in the Air. He had also contributed to the formation of the Meteorological Society and the Aeronautical Society of Britain. The 2019 movie The Aeronauts depicts his exploits as a balloonist.

 48 
Vera Rubin
(American Astronomer Known for Her Pioneering Work on Galaxy Rotation Rates)
Vera Rubin
5
Birthdate: July 23, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 25, 2016

American astronomer Vera Rubin is best known for her pioneering discoveries on galaxy rotation rates, her groundbreaking work confirming the existence of dark matter and for her life-long advocacy for women in science. She studied the galactic rotation curves and provided strong evidence of the existence of dark matter. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile is named after her.

 49 
Fred Hoyle
(English Astronomer Who Formulated the Theory of 'Stellar Nucleosynthesis')
Fred Hoyle
4
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.  

 50 
Henrietta Swan Leavitt
4
Birthdate: July 4, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lancaster, Massachusetts
Died: December 12, 1921

Born to a church minister, Henrietta Swan Leavitt grew up to work as a “human computer” at the Harvard Observatory. The American astronomer gained fame for discovering the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables. However, her brilliant scientific career was halted by her death due to stomach cancer at 53.