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Top 10 People I Would Like to Meet

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Here is a list of the top 10 people of astronomy and space I would like to meet and/or have dinner with. Unfortunately, it probably will not happen. Several names on my list are now dead and the odds are against my meeting the living members as well.

Each of these people have gained my admiration and respect for one reason or another. I believe they all would provide excellent conversation and I would have a golden opportunity to learn something.

How about you?

1. Giordano Bruno

Many people defied the church, but none had the chutzpah of this guy. Even a death sentence did not change his attitude as he defiantly told his accusers, "In pronouncing my sentence, your fear is greater than mine in hearing it."

Now, don't get me wrong, I have my own beliefs, but I'm also one of the first to admit that many religions have had their problems over the centuries. Science and religion have often butted heads over the years and will probably continue to do so.

2. Caroline Herschel

Social and physical setbacks didn't stop this woman from her destiny. She was the first woman to receive honorary membership into Britain's Royal Society in 1835.

She discovered 3 new nebulae and 8 comets and in her "spare" time began re-cataloging Flamsteed's star catalog and submitted it to the Royal Society in 1798, along with another 560 stars which Flamsteed had omitted.

She was the first lady of astronomy, literally.

3. Galileo Galilei

What's not to like about Galileo? He was truly the father of modern science.

Like Bruno, he also defied the church, but without the same dire consequences. After signing a recantation of the Copernican theory that the sun was the center of the solar system, and accepting the church’s claim that the Earth was unmoving, he said, "And yet ... it moves."

4. Maria Mitchell

Not just the 1st woman astronomer in the US, she was also a teacher & entrepreneur.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences voted her the 1st woman member in 1848 & Association for the Advancement of Science followed suit in 1850. In 1869 she was the 1st woman elected to the American Philosophical Society. 4 years later, she helped found the American Association for the Advancement of Women & served as its president from 1874 to 1876.

Oh yeah, there's also the matter of a comet she discovered.

5. Sir Isaac Newton

Like Galileo before him (who died the same year he was born), Newton was a man of many interests. His Universal Laws of Gravitation and Three Laws of Motion are the roots of much of today's knowledge.

Imagine what you could learn by picking his brains, if you could understand it.

6. Christa McAuliffe

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the explosion of the Challenger. What a tragic loss.

Christa was not just an astronaut, but also a teacher, someone who truly touched the future. In fact, her motto was "I touch the future, I teach."

She never got a chance to teach from the space the two lessons she had prepared. I'd love to hear them now.

7. Neil Armstrong

This is a no brainer.

I was 9 and watching our old black and white TV when Neil took his small step and gave mankind a giant leap into the future.

I have so many things I'd like to ask him, but would probably be too tongue-tied to get them out.

8. Dr. Sally Ride

Not only the first American woman in space, but also the youngest person when she rode the Challenger in 1984.

In 1986 she terminated mission training as a mission specialist on STS 61-M in order to serve as a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.

As the father of a daughter, I respect her not only as a role model, but also for her work with girls and young women through the Sally Ride Club.

9. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and Visiting Research Scientist and Lecturer at Princeton University. Because of his many contributions to science, he has been recognized by having an asteroid (13123 Tyson) named after him.

10. Dr. Mae Jemison

An incredible woman who is not limited by the imagination of others is a chemical engineer, scientist, physician, teacher and astronaut. Also, she is well-versed in African and African-American Studies, speaks fluent Russian, Japanese, and Swahili, as well as English and is trained in dance and choreography. Also, she's the first African-American woman in space.

Plus, as a self proclaimed geek, I'm impressed that she acted in an episode of Star Trek. I'd love to ask her about that experience.

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