After a few polls on instagram, it became apparent that astronomy was the topic that most people were interested in. With the beginning of February comes the start of black history month; so I decided to merge the two stellar topics.
One light year is equal to roughly 5.87 miles. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100,000 light years in diameter. At around 5.9 billion kilometers away from the sun, we have Pluto. However, our solar system doesn’t just end at the planets in orbit; the speculation continues but we don’t really know the precise area that our solar system ends. To make you feel even smaller, there are an estimated 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s 200 billion possibilities for other solar systems, whether they be in the past, present or future; because remember, stars are ever growing, changing and exploding.
Astronomy is the study of these planetary objects, space and stars and all galaxies. The stars and planets beyond Earth may feel far away, but in the current scheme of universal life, we are the closest we will ever get to be. Since we are all byproducts of celestial explosions and star formations, we’re all inevitably connected. That’s a lot to take in.
Despite that connection, African American astronauts and astronomers are unfairly far and few in between; and with that limit, these remarkable humans are still under-acknowledged. Without further ado, here are 4 astronomical African Americans.
Mae Carol Jemison-
The Stanford and Cornell graduate was the first African American woman sent to space.
She’s also been in an episode of Star Trek and has nine- count them- NINE doctorates. She’s spent over 190 hours in space. I’ve spent 190 minutes on NASA’s website. She’s pretty amazing.
Charles F. Bolden-
As the first African American man sent to space, he clocked over 680 hours in space.
He also served in the Marines and was also acknowledged by Barrack Obama before retiring. Also, check out that mustache; can you say suave?
The self-taught clock maker and mathematician began his work with astronomy in 1773. He was able to precisely calculate solar and lunar eclipses.
He created charts and tables of celestial and planetary positions that grew into published almanacs. Also, I particularly love this illustration because he looks very sultry, but still means business.
She was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Michigan. She worked primarily in NASA’s X-ray Astrophysics department. Beth passed away in 2008.
I know this article is coming off sort of like a book report, however I wanted to acknowledge these incredible humans. Next time you look at the stars, I hope you think of these folks that were able to sacrifice and work for us all. The study of astronomy is a service to us; to bring together people and maybe even other types of life one day. The intergalactic possibilities are endless in the future. However, all we have is now. The galaxy exists not only above and around us, but within each of us. Right now we can practice gratitude for the people that made understanding our astronomy possible.