Getting to know Carl Sagan

Private Life

Carl Edward Sagan was an American Astronomer, Astrophysicist and writer. He was born on November 9 th , 1934, and lived until he was 62. Born in Brooklyn New York to Samuel Sagan and Rachel Molly Gruber, he lived there with his parents and his sister Carol. He married three times and had 5 children in all.

How it Started

In keeping with many scientists, he was an atheist. His interest in science started as early as 1939 when he was taken to the World Fair in New York, and years later could discuss exhibits they had seen there. While still at school, he learned about the planets.


After graduating from Rahway High School, he attended the University of Chicago and gained a B.A. in 1954. It was here that he took an interest in physics and wrote a thesis about the origins of life. The following year he was awarded a B.S and in 1956, his M.S.

Working Life

Early work included the assistance in development of the Mariner 2 probe, before moving on to work at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Lab for NASA. Here he was building a theory that the atmosphere of Venus was not as close to that of Earth as many believed. He was of the opinion that it was possible for there to be life on other planets. From 1968 – 1970 he was Associate Professor and then Professor at Cornell University and it was here that he worked with Frank Drake producing plagues that were sent up with Pioneer 10 and 11 for extra- terrestrial beings to find in the future.


Sagan has written or been involved with in the region of 20 books and more than 600 papers have been published by him. In 1977, he wrote “The Dragons of Eden -Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence.” It was not until 1980 however that he published “Cosmos” which later became a series shown on T.V.