Maria Mitchell - painting by H. Dassell, 1851 
Credit: Public Domain

Many people have changed the course of history. These people are often leaders or rulers, but many are scientists. Scientists have made sense of what we see in the night sky. Their work has revealed how our Universe works.  

Read our profiles to explore the stories of scientists and astronomers from the past. You may already know some of the more well-known names. Names like Galileo or Copernicus. But if you look through our profiles, you may find some new names. These stories are often left out from history. Many of these less-known people are women, or from countries outside Europe and the USA, or from minority groups within those countries.

For example, Maria Mitchell. Maria was the first American woman to be paid to work as an astronomer. She discovered a comet in 1847 which was later known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet". Maria tried to increase the number of women who worked in astronomy. She also demanded that her pay should be the same as her male colleagues.

Or Gan De, a Chinese astronomer. He is one of the first known people to write a catalogue of the stars. He also studied sunspots. This was over 1000 years before European astronomers did so. Gan De was also doing his work with the naked eye. He did not have a telescope!

Once you've explored our profiles, why not try our quiz! Test what you know about space, and learn more about the lesser-known scientists and astronomers from the past.