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Tycho Brahe is a hero of mine because he was the first person to realize the importance of the boring, nitty-gritty little things I do during my day-to-day life as an astronomer: analyzing data, estimating errors, trying to understand the discrepancies between different sets of observations. Other heroes of mine from the dawn of modern astronomy are Copernicus, Kepler, the inventor of the laws of planetary motion, and especially (for me as an observer) Galileo, the first person to look at the sky through a telescope. Nevertheless, although I am in awe of these scientists and fascinated by the stories of their discoveries, I am not very interested in them as individuals. They are too alien from the world of the twenty-first century. They lived too long ago for me to have any understanding or feeling for their personalities — for what made them tick; the times are just too different. The figures from the history of astronomy that really fascinate me as individual human personalities are much more modern. These are the scientists who discovered the true scale of the Universe. Because this discovery was made only eighty years ago, these men (and with one important exception they were all men) are only just over the event horizon.
KeywordsGlobular Cluster Spiral Nebula Photographic Plate Distant Galaxy Faint Galaxy
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