Like many astronomers, I fell early and hard for the stars. My passion for astronomy began at age nine, when I roamed the exhibits of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles–a visual maze of objects, images, and scientific delights. I was fascinated not only by the scientific concepts, but also by their representations: the models, the motions, and the large-scale graphics. I hold a BA in mathematics and a PhD in astronomy from UC Berkeley, and I lived in Chile for part of my graduate studies, observing at three southern Observatories. I moved to Washington, DC as a Carnegie Fellow in astronomy and published my research in the Astrophysical Journal. I then happily shifted my focus to raising four daughters with my husband, who is also an astronomerIn 2000 I jumped back into the workforce at Carnegie Observatories in its External Affairs office. A few years later I took a position teaching science writing at Caltech. This was my favorite job, providing students with the tools to translate cutting-edge science into Scientific American-level papers for a general audience. The urge to write a book about the process of doing science—which had been germinating for a few years—took root from this experience.  While researching this book, I held Visitor status at Caltech, which provided access to Palomar and to a large pool of resident and visiting scientists for discussions and several hundred hours of interviews. In fact, among the people I interviewed was Stephen Hawking, who inspired me with his strong commitment to sharing science with the public. Finally, as The Rockefeller Foundation had supported the building of Palomar Observatory, they came back to provide a grant to support my research and the writing of this book.

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