3 mins read 03 Dec 2020

What Secrets Do the Stars Keep?

The Secret Lives of Stars is one of the five books you can win as part of our women in space competition. We had a quick chat to Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith about her book and all the stellar characters that appear in it.

Prof. Lisa Harvey-Smith with The Secret Life of Stars. Image supplied.

Not all stars are born equal, with some which live life in the slow and small lane, shining for billions of years, whilst others decree that for them, it’s all about the here and now – shining as brightly and furiously as they can, then disappearing as quickly as they appeared.

Some stars are grumpy, and others are show-offs. Some stars live in cities, and others are nomads – roaming the galaxy never ready to settle in a single location. And to tell us all about it, University of New South Wales Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, and astrophysicists herself, takes us on a particularly charming journey across the galaxy in her latest book, The Secret Life of Stars, to meet all of these peculiar and interesting stellar characters.

This is the third book for Lisa, who happens to also be the current Women in STEM Ambassador for the Australian Government, who describes her book as a fun and humanistic tour through our galaxy to meet the many personalities of stars.

Sally Ride in Space. Credit:

For her inspiration, Lisa draws on the American queer astronaut, Sally Ride – who was the third woman ever in space and travelled aboard two Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s, before settling into other roles that were involved with NASA. But it was the lure of the grand cosmos that drove Lisa to follow a career in astronomy and science.

“I fell in love with astronomy and space as a child. Stargazing is such a wholesome, accessible hobby and a career in space is tremendously challenging and rewarding,” she said.

As a research scientist with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, Lisa studied supernova remnants, cosmic magnetism, massive stars and the interstellar medium. She also worked on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) early science programs too.

So, what advice does Lisa have for young women who want to maybe start a career in space, or in any STEM field for that matter?

“Just be you.”

The Secret Lives of Stars is one of five signed books you can win by entering the #SpaceAusSTEM challenge over the next few weeks – simply tell us (on social media) who your favourite women in space are (historical or current) and you’ll be in the chance to win this wonderful book, along with four other signed books by prominent women in space that we’ve curated. Find out more information about the competition here.