A Tribute to Carl Sagan

Inspiring Scientists, Science Writers, and You

Dr. Carl Sagan (courtesy The Planetary Society)

Welcome to my 365 Days of Astronomy page about Dr. Carl Sagan. Thanks for listening to my podcast (December 22, 2009) about this man and his work.  Dr. Sagan first came to my attention through his books, which I began reading in college. After I’d heard him speak and met him at the university, I continued to read his work.  The landmark series (co-written with Ann Druyan and Steven Soter) called Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, was my first exposure to a way of talking about astronomy and astrophysics to the public. Simply shortened to Cosmos, the series was indeed a personal journey through the cosmos, but along the way, it also became the viewer’s personal voyage. It inspired me to undertake a more formal study of astronomy so I could become a better science writer.

Carl Sagan was born in 1934 and died on December 20, 1996.  He packed a lot of accomplishment into his years, including a Ph.D in astronomy and astrophysics, worked in astrochemistry, exobiology, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Many people know him for his work in popularizing astronomy, which he did in a series of books, beginning with Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence, the science fiction book Contact (made into a movie with Jodie Foster), Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, and The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.

Dr. Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, was also one of his co-authors on Cosmos, as well as Contact. She also co-wrote Comet, Revised and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, as well parts of  The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. She is CEO and founder of Cosmos Studios and heads up the Carl Sagan Project.

Dr. Sagan’s work opened the universe up for many people, and inspired a generation of us to go into science and some of us to ultimately pursue science popularization (whether through writing or media) as a career. He made the cosmos personal for all of us who enjoyed his work and took on the challenges of presenting science to the public.

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