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Gerard Kuiper
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Astronomer
    (December 7, 1905-December 24, 1973)
    Born in Tuitjenhorn, Netherlands
    Last name rhymes with 'wiper' and 'hyper'
    Became a US citizen (1937)
    Discovered Uranus's moon Miranda (1948) and Neptune's moon Nereid (1949)
    Namesake for the Kuiper Belt
    Namesake for the American Astronomical Society's Kuiper Award given for lifetime achievement in planetary science
    Ironically, he predicted that the Kuiper Belt would be largely empty, since he thought asteroids and comets that formed there would be swept clear by Pluto's gravitational influence.
    The name of the Kuiper Belt is somewhat controversial, since Frederick Leonard (1930) and Kenneth Edgeworth (1943) had both predicted the possibility of trans-Plutonian objects before Kuiper did.
    One of his colleagues said, 'He was very difficult to work for, or even in the same building with.'
    One of his former graduate students said, 'Kuiper had very little interest in our education. We were there to work as assistants.'
    He had extraordinarily sharp eyesight, and could see with the naked eye stars four times fainter than ones visible to most people.
    He helped identify landing places on the Moon for the Apollo program.
    He has craters on the Moon, Mars and Mercury named after him.
    He is considered a father of planetary science for promoting a multidisciplinary approach to studying the solar system.

Credit: C. Fishel


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