Here’s our alphabetical list of the most popular astronomers, or contributors to astronomy, on the Famous Scientists website, ordered by surname.

Luis Alvarez 1911 – 1988.

The iridium layer, dinosaur death by meteorite impact, and subatomic particle discoveries.

The iridium layer, dinosaur death by meteorite impact, and subatomic particle discoveries.

Anaximander c. 610 BC – c 546 BC.

An ancient scientific revolution: the first person in history to recognize that our planet is free in space and does not need to sit on something.

An ancient scientific revolution: the first person in history to recognize that our planet is free in space and does not need to sit on something.

Aristarchus c. 310 BC – c. 230 BC.

Promoted the idea that the earth follows a circular orbit around the sun eighteen centuries before Nicolaus Copernicus resurrected the idea.

Promoted the idea that the earth follows a circular orbit around the sun eighteen centuries before Nicolaus Copernicus resurrected the idea.

Tycho Brahe 1546 – 1601.

Produced the best star catalog that had ever been compiled and measured the orbit of Mars with unprecedented accuracy, paving the way for Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and Newton’s law of gravity.

Produced the best star catalog that had ever been compiled and measured the orbit of Mars with unprecedented accuracy, paving the way for Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and Newton’s law of gravity.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 1910 – 1995.

Discovered that massive stars can collapse under their own gravity to reach infinite densities. Today we call these collapsed stars black holes.

Discovered that massive stars can collapse under their own gravity to reach infinite densities. Today we call these collapsed stars black holes.

Nicolaus Copernicus 1473 to 1543.

Started the scientific revolution with his book

Started the scientific revolution with his book

*The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres*, explaining his belief that the solar system is centered on the sun, not on the earth.
Frank Drake Born 1930.

A founder of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; devised the Drake equation to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy; first person to map the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

A founder of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; devised the Drake equation to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy; first person to map the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Galileo Galilei 1564 – 1642.

The father of modern science, Galileo discovered the first moons ever known to orbit another planet and that the Milky Way is made of stars. He rationalized how objects are affected by gravity, stated the principle of inertia, and proposed the first theory of relativity.

The father of modern science, Galileo discovered the first moons ever known to orbit another planet and that the Milky Way is made of stars. He rationalized how objects are affected by gravity, stated the principle of inertia, and proposed the first theory of relativity.

Carl Friedrich Gauss 1777 – 1855.

The last master of all mathematics, Gauss revolutionized number theory; he invented the method of least squares and the fast Fourier transform to recover the position of the lost dwarf planet Ceres. His profound contributions to the physical sciences include Gauss’s Law & Gauss’s Law for Magnetism.

The last master of all mathematics, Gauss revolutionized number theory; he invented the method of least squares and the fast Fourier transform to recover the position of the lost dwarf planet Ceres. His profound contributions to the physical sciences include Gauss’s Law & Gauss’s Law for Magnetism.

Thomas Harriot c. 1560 – 1621

The first person in history to map a heavenly body after observing it with a telescope – the moon. Probably first to observe sunspots with a telescope, allowing him to determine the sun’s rotation rate.

The first person in history to map a heavenly body after observing it with a telescope – the moon. Probably first to observe sunspots with a telescope, allowing him to determine the sun’s rotation rate.

Hipparchus c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC.

One of antiquity’s greatest scientists: founded the mathematical discipline of trigonometry; measured the earth-moon distance accurately; discovered the precession of the equinoxes; and documented the positions and magnitudes of over 850 stars. His combinatorics work was unequalled until 1870.

One of antiquity’s greatest scientists: founded the mathematical discipline of trigonometry; measured the earth-moon distance accurately; discovered the precession of the equinoxes; and documented the positions and magnitudes of over 850 stars. His combinatorics work was unequalled until 1870.

Fred Hoyle 1915 – 2001.

Proved that most of the naturally occurring elements in the periodic table were made inside stars and distributed through space by supernova explosions; coined the phrase ‘Big Bang’ while strenuously denying that there had ever been one; argued for an expanding Steady State universe with no beginning or end.

Proved that most of the naturally occurring elements in the periodic table were made inside stars and distributed through space by supernova explosions; coined the phrase ‘Big Bang’ while strenuously denying that there had ever been one; argued for an expanding Steady State universe with no beginning or end.

Edwin Hubble 1889 – 1953.

Discovered there are galaxies beyond our own. Showed we live in a universe of many galaxies, each an isolated ‘island universe,’ separated by immense distances. Independently discovered and popularized Hubble’s law, believed by most cosmologists to indicate we live in an expanding universe.

Discovered there are galaxies beyond our own. Showed we live in a universe of many galaxies, each an isolated ‘island universe,’ separated by immense distances. Independently discovered and popularized Hubble’s law, believed by most cosmologists to indicate we live in an expanding universe.

Omar Khayyam 1048 – 1131.

A poet, philosopher and scientist, Khayyam calculated the length of a year to the most accurate value ever, and showed how the intersections of conic sections can be utilized to yield geometric solutions of cubic equations.

A poet, philosopher and scientist, Khayyam calculated the length of a year to the most accurate value ever, and showed how the intersections of conic sections can be utilized to yield geometric solutions of cubic equations.

Johannes Kepler 1571 to 1630.

Discovered the solar system’s planets follow elliptical paths; identified the tides are caused mainly by the moon; proved how logarithms work; discovered the inverse square law of light intensity; his laws of planetary motion led Newton to his law of gravitation.

Discovered the solar system’s planets follow elliptical paths; identified the tides are caused mainly by the moon; proved how logarithms work; discovered the inverse square law of light intensity; his laws of planetary motion led Newton to his law of gravitation.

Henrietta Leavitt 1868 – 1921.

Discovered that Cepheid variable stars act as a ‘standard candle,’ opening the door to measuring the distances to far distant stars and the discovery of galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

Discovered that Cepheid variable stars act as a ‘standard candle,’ opening the door to measuring the distances to far distant stars and the discovery of galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

Georges Lemaître 1894 – 1966.

Discovered that space and the universe are expanding; discovered Hubble’s law; proposed the universe began with the explosion of a ‘primeval atom’ whose matter spread and evolved to form the galaxies and stars we observe today.

Discovered that space and the universe are expanding; discovered Hubble’s law; proposed the universe began with the explosion of a ‘primeval atom’ whose matter spread and evolved to form the galaxies and stars we observe today.

Isaac Newton 1643 to 1727.

Profoundly changed our understanding of nature with his law of universal gravitation and his laws of motion; invented calculus, the field of mathematics that dominates the physical sciences; generalized the binomial theorem; built the first ever reflecting telescope; showed sunlight is made of all the colors of the rainbow.

Profoundly changed our understanding of nature with his law of universal gravitation and his laws of motion; invented calculus, the field of mathematics that dominates the physical sciences; generalized the binomial theorem; built the first ever reflecting telescope; showed sunlight is made of all the colors of the rainbow.

Claudius Ptolemy AD c. 100 – c. 170.

Author of the Almagest, which contained a catalogue of over a thousand stars with positions, relative brightnesses, and constellations; and a mathematical model predicting the movements of the planets that was unsurpassed for almost 1,500 years.

Author of the Almagest, which contained a catalogue of over a thousand stars with positions, relative brightnesses, and constellations; and a mathematical model predicting the movements of the planets that was unsurpassed for almost 1,500 years.

Gene Shoemaker 1928 to 1997.

The first astrogeologist and a founder of planetary impact science; proved large craters on Earth were caused by collisions with asteroids and comets, rather than volcanic activity; proposed microscopic life could travel between planets on rocks blasted into space by asteroid impacts.

The first astrogeologist and a founder of planetary impact science; proved large craters on Earth were caused by collisions with asteroids and comets, rather than volcanic activity; proposed microscopic life could travel between planets on rocks blasted into space by asteroid impacts.

Harold Urey 1893 – 1981.

Discovered deuterium; showed how isotope ratios in rocks reveal past Earth climates; founded modern planetary science; the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated that electrically sparking simple gases produces amino acids – the building blocks of life.

Discovered deuterium; showed how isotope ratios in rocks reveal past Earth climates; founded modern planetary science; the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated that electrically sparking simple gases produces amino acids – the building blocks of life.