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Lisa Frattare

Lisa Frattare

A novelty pair of dog tags made for me at a carnival in the late '80's reads: "Lisa Marie Frattare - Astronomer - Psychologist - Jim's Girl." In the subsequent 10 years' time, I can add: "(Jim's) wife - mom - astronomical observer - Hubble Heritage Team Image Processor." It's good to know my life's accomplishments can still all fit on one dog tag!

My earliest memories of astronomy are precious: the "Goodnight Moon" book; having mom rinse my hair saying "Look up at the stars..." so I wouldn't get soap in my eyes; someone pointing to an early evening planet saying it was "The Star of Bethlehem." I loved staying up late, having the shades open at night to watch stars and the moon traverse my bedroom window. One of my most vivid memories of the cosmos was not at night but during the day, with the shade pulled down in my room. Tiny pinprick holes in the shade made up little constellations, and I remember contemplating that perhaps real stars were pinpricks on what would evolve into a celestial sphere shade. Who put them there, and why?

Lisa Frattare

I was taught very little formal astronomy in school before college. Only a few memories linger: a science fair project here, a "Powers of 10" poster there. In college I was a psychology major, mostly because a high-school guidance counselor asked what class I enjoyed the most. (Astronomy was only taught for about 3 weeks in my physics class, and physics itself was definitely not my favorite.)

But I took astronomy as an elective, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Stepping out on the roof overlooking Lake Ontario for my first astronomy lab class in Oswego, NY, seeing first the sunset over the lake, and then the crescent moon and several planets lined up across the sky, I felt I had never seen such a beautiful sight. My soul wept for never before having seen or experienced this beautiful display before my eyes- until now. And that was all it took. At age 18, I knew my calling.

I studied astronomy in college for 11 years, at Oswego State, Arizona State University, and Wesleyan University. Today I am just having too much fun working for the Hubble Space Telescope to pursue any more schooling at the moment (plus trying to pay back alot of student loans), but getting a Ph.D. remains on my proverbial "to-do" list. As well as the astronaut program. I must say I love observing the most: Kitt Peak, Cerro Tololo in Chile, and Flagstaff, Arizona are now at the top of the my list for precious astronomical memories. I was lucky to have recently observed at Keck in Waimea, Hawaii. However, I didn't actually go to the top of the mountian, so I am taking it on other's words that the one of the most powerful telescopes in the world was hooked up to my computer in the remote observing room at the base of the mountain.

I do get to fit in some science every now and then: discovery of this luminous blue variable here and another mysterious variable star there. I also am very active on the issue of Women in Astronomy. Working on the Hubble Heritage Team, I satisfy other needs---to find beauty in science, to share it with others, to help others be inspired, and enable them to see something wonderful that they never saw before.

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