In 1986 an astronomer trying to trace a 75 cent computer time discrepancy for 10 months eventually found a German hacker selling defense secrets to the KGB.
By tradition astronomers name lunar lava planes after states of mind, such as “Sea of Tranquility”. However when Soviets discovered a new mare, they named it Moscoviense, after Moscow. This caused strife among astronomers, until it was agreed that Moscow is, in fact, a state of mind.
Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe owned roughly one percent of all the money in Denmark, wore a nose made of gold after losing his own in a duel and had a pet moose that he sent out to attend parties in his place until it one night got so drunk that it fell down a flight of stairs and broke its neck.
An astronomer travelled to India in 1760 to observe Venus. His ship blew off course, and he missed the date. He stayed in India for 8 years to try again, but the sky was too cloudy. When he returned home, he had been declared dead, his wife remarried, his estate plundered, and his job lost.
The return trip was first delayed by dysentery, and further when his ship was caught in a storm and dropped him off at Île Bourbon (Réunion), where he had to wait until a Spanish ship took him home. He finally arrived in Paris in October 1771, having been away for eleven years, only to find that he had been declared legally dead and been replaced in the Royal Academy of Sciences. His wife had remarried, and all his relatives had “enthusiastically plundered his estate”. Due to shipwrecks and wartime attacks on ships, none of the letters he had sent to the Academy or to his relatives had reached their destinations. Lengthy litigation and the intervention of the king were ultimately required before he recovered his seat in the academy, remarried, and lived apparently happily for another 21 years.
In the 1880s, the Harvard Observatory director was frustrated with his staff, and would say “My Scottish maid could do better!” So, he hired his Scottish maid. Williamina Fleming ran a team for decades, classified tens of thousands of stars, & discovered white dwarfs and the Horsehead Nebula.
Astronomer Harlow Shapley, confused about what to study, decided to take the first class listed in university’s catalog. Unable to pronounce “archaeology,” he skipped to the next listing “astronomy.” He went on to become one of the famous 20th century astronomers.
In 1953, an amateur astronomer saw and photographed a bright white light on the lunar surface. He believed it was a rare asteroid impact, but professional astronomers dismissed and disputed “Stuart’s Event” for 50 years. In 2003, NASA looked for and found the crater.
Planetary scientist Eugene Shoemaker is the only human in history to have their ashes buried on the moon.
A 18C. astronomer went to India to see a Transit of Venus. Delayed, he missed it, but decided to stay for the next one, in 8 years. The second try was clouded out. 3 years later he returned to France to find he’d been declared dead, his wife had remarried, and his estate was gone.
Astronomer Percival Lowell believed that he was the first person to observe canals on Venus, but because of a faulty adjustment of the eyepiece of his telescope, he was in fact looking at the blood vessels in his own eye.