Sometime in the mid 70s while I was in secondary school, I determined that I should write to Dr. Sagan and ask him what should be my approach if I wanted to become an astronomer, which was my goal at the time. How I found his Cornell address is slightly mysterious, as this was pre-Internet, pre-cable, and, even, pre-microwave oven. My guess is that I found it at the library. Ithaca can’t be that big, in hindsight, and he was likely one of the most well-known people in town. Nothing more than “Prof. Carl Sagan, Ithaca, NY” probably would have worked on the envelope.Originally published to the author's blog, radioAe6rt, on December 16, 2006.
So I wrote my letter, and lo, some weeks, later, a reply came. Carl Sagan had personally taken the time to respond to my inquiry. I am still honored, and humbled, by this. And I have that letter in my files, along with a signed photo of him. Therein he suggested that if I wanted to study the stars, I should take a course of study consisting of math and physics. Which I did.
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I came across a post yesterday which I wanted to call attention to. It's a perfect example of how Dr. Sagan inspired people to pursue science professionally. Who knows how many careers out there were spurred on by Carl's charisma and passion. Here's an excerpt from My Letter to Carl Sagan by Dr. Mark S. Petrovic: