With one of our idols in astronomy, the late Carl Sagan. This photo was
taken in 1992, during a conference hosted by The Planetary Society at
Caltech in Pasadena, California. Sagan’s 1980 book and subsequent
PBS television series Cosmos inspired us to become astronomers
and science writers.
With the late astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto,
and his wife, Patsy, during our first visit to their home in Las Cruces,
New Mexico, in 1989. Clyde was only 24 when he found our solar
system’s ninth planet in 1930, on photographic plates he had taken
at Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Imelda and her mom with Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” A. Aldrin
and Noreen Grice of the Museum of Science in Boston. Aldrin was the
pilot of the Lunar Module Eagle, which landed on the Moon’s Sea of
Tranquillity on July 20, 1969. He became the second man to set foot
on the lunar surface, after Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong.
With John Grunsfeld, a NASA astronaut and University of Chicago
astrophysicist. John is a veteran Mission Specialist, having flown
on five Space Shuttle flights: STS-67 (in 1995), STS-81 (1997),
STS-103 (1999), STS-109 (2002), and STS-125 (2009). John
has logged more than 58 days in space, including eight spacewalks
totaling over 58 hours. In the 2009 Shuttle mission, he led the
repairs for the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. This was his third
servicing mission to HST and the last one for the space telescope
before it is retired by NASA.
With former NASA astronaut Story Musgrave. A medical doctor by
training and an experienced pilot and parachutist, Story had flown on
six Space Shuttle missions (aboard Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis,
Endeavour, and Columbia), spending a total of 1,282 hours in space.
The STS-61 flight in 1993 was the first servicing and repair mission
to the Hubble Space Telescope. Story performed three of the record
five spacewalk marathons that successfully fixed Hubble’s astigmatic
optics. He retired in 1997.
Imelda with astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker and then Sky & Telescope
Editor in Chief Leif J. Robinson. Carolyn and her late husband, Gene,
along with David Levy, co-discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, the
fragments of which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994. Carolyn was
also the discoverer of asteroid 1980 TS4, which had been officially named
“6282 Edwelda” in our honor.
With Thomas Bopp at the 1996 Riverside Telescope Makers Conference
in Big Bear, California. Tom, together with Alan Hale, was the discoverer
of Comet Hale-Bopp, C/1995 O1. This cosmic visitor, dubbed “The Great
Comet of 1997,” became the most widely observed comet of the 20th
century. It was visible to the unaided eye for 18 months, twice as long as
the previous record holder, the Great Comet of 1811. Edwin wrote three
cover stories about Comet Hale-Bopp in Sky & Telescope (November 1995,
April 1997, and May 1997.)
With renowned astronomy popularizer and telescope maker John Dobson.
John invented the popular Dobsonian telescope design, which is used by
backyard astronomers worldwide, especially for their large-aperture
instruments. He is also the co-founder of the San Francisco Sidewalk
With Harvard University physics professor Roy J. Glauber. In 2005,
Roy shared half of the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his contribution to
the quantum theory of optical coherence.” During World War II, while
an undergraduate at Harvard, he was recruited to work on the super-
secret Manhattan Project, where, at the age of 18, he was one of the
youngest scientists at the Los Alamos base in New Mexico. His job
involved calculating the critical mass for the atomic bomb.
During his visit in 2005, Dr. Roy Clare CBE invited us to be his dinner
guests at the exclusive Somerset Club in Boston's Beacon Hill. At the
time, Roy was director of Great Britain’s National Maritime Museum and
the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Roy was formerly a Rear Admiral in
the Royal Navy, commanding the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and the
Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, UK. He is currently chief
executive of the country’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
With Father George V. Coyne, S.J., at the Papal Palace in Castel
Gandolfo, Italy. Father Coyne is Director Emeritus of the Vatican
Observatory (Specola Vaticana) and President of the Vatican
Observatory Foundation. As Director, he was a driving force in
several new educational and research initiatives, including the
Vatican Observatory Summer Schools and the Vatican Observatory
Research Group in Tucson, Arizona. He has also been active in
promoting dialogue between science and religion. He retired in 2006.
With Father Christopher J. Corbally, S.J., at the Papal Palace in
Castel Gandolfo, Italy. Father Corbally is Vice Director of the Vatican
Observatory for the Vatican Observatory Research Group. He was
project scientist on the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope
(VATT) during its construction and commissioning, and is an adjunct
professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson
With the students and faculty of the 1999 Vatican Observatory Summer
School at the Papal Garden adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy.
Earlier that day, the group had a private audience with His Holiness,
the late Pope John Paul II.
With Boston Archbishop Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., after he
celebrated Mass at St. Barbara’s Parish in 2004. In 2006, he was named
a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.
Imelda and Edwin with Dava Sobel and her husband, Alfonso, at Ostia
Antica, Italy, after successfully observing the 2004 transit of Venus.
Dava, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of the
international bestsellers Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter. She has also
penned other books, including Letters to Father and The Planets. She is
now writing a play about the life of Copernicus.
With Andrew Chaikin, a well-known science journalist, author, and
historian of manned space exploration. His books include the best-selling
chronicle of the Apollo lunar missions, A Man on the Moon, the main basis
for Tom Hanks’s 12-part Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, From the Earth
to the Moon.
With our good friend Phillip D. Wyman from Tehachapi, California. Phil
was a serviceman in the U.S. Air Force stationed at the U.S. Embassy
in Manila when he helped found the Philippine Astronomical Society
(PAS) in 1971. He also completed graduate studies in International Law
at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Upon his return to
the U.S., Phil went into politics and was elected as the Republican
Assemblyman for California’s 34th District for seven terms and as State
Senator for one term.
With Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives of
the 111th Congress. A Democratic congresswoman representing
California’s Eighth District, Pelosi became the first woman in U.S. history
to serve as House Speaker in 2007. She was sworn in for her second
term as Speaker in 2009. Under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947,
the Speaker is the second in the line of succession to the presidency after
the Vice President.
With the late former Vice President of the Philippines, Salvador “Doy” H.
Laurel, during the opening ceremonies for the second National Astronomy
Week celebration in 1992 at the Rizal Park in Manila. Doy, together with
Cory Aquino, led the People Power Revolt in 1986 that overthrew the
government of President Ferdinand Marcos and installed Aquino as the
country’s first female head of state.
With Deval Patrick, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In 2006, he made history when he was elected as the state’s first African-
American governor and only the second in the United States.
With Philippine Senator Loren Legarda at the Manila Polo Club in 2008.
We first met Loren in Los Angeles when she interviewed us in 1985. At the
time, she was doing reports for the Philippine News Agency in L.A. Since
then she became a well-known broadcast journalist, serving as news
anchor and TV show host, and is now serving her second term as senator.
With Edgardo J. Angara when Imelda and Edwin visited him at his home in
Makati in early 1987. Angara at the time was President of the University
of the Philippines. Later that year he was elected to the Philippine Senate,
where he served as Senate President (1993 to 1995) and as Senator
(1987 to 1998; 2001 to the present).
With Captain Jonathan Mercer in 1998, during a formal dinner aboard
Holland America’s cruise ship, the MS Veendam. The Captain skillfully
maneuvered the ship in the Caribbean Sea, which allowed the passengers
and crew to successfully observe that year’s total eclipse of the Sun.
Imelda, a former U.S. Navy active reservist, poses with Vice Admiral
H. Denby Starling II on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier
USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), during the ship's final visit to Boston
in 2007. Vice Adm. Starling is commander of the U.S. Naval Network
Warfare Command. Before that he was commander of the Naval Air
Imelda with U.S. Navy Commander Kevin Mannix, flight leader and
commanding officer of the Navy’s Blue Angels Flight Demonstration
Squadron, at the Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown,
Rhode Island, in 2007. The Blue Angels use Boeing F/A-18 Hornet
jet fighters to demonstrate high-speed, precision aerobatic
maneuvers at public air shows worldwide.