Over the weekend I learned that observational cosmologist John Huchra passed away on Friday. I only met him once, when I was a summer intern at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He very graciously gave the group of summer interns an hour and a half of his time and told us about his research, and about the interplay between observation and theory in astronomy. But more than that he also shared his passion for discovery and learning about the universe. Hearing him talk got me much more excited at the prospect of becoming a scientist. Even though my scientific interests have drifted toward planets rather than cosmology, that morning spent with Dr. Huchra still sticks in my mind as one of the highlights of my first summer doing real research.
I jotted down this quote when Dr. Huchra was sharing the excitement of his research with a bunch of wide-eyed interns. It spoke to me then and I think of it every time I find myself burning the midnight oil for the sake of something I’m passionate about:
“The best sunrises are the ones you see as you’re going to bed.” -John Huchra
My condolences go out to his friends, families and colleagues who knew him much better than I did. Astronomy has lost a passionate leader. He will be missed.