astronomy

Pierre Gassendi and his Trials to reconcile Epicurean Atomism with Christianity

Pierre Gassendi and his Trials to reconcile Epicurean Atomism with Christianity

You have read the title? I guess, you might be scared now, but Pierre Gassendi was a decent fellow… On January 22, 1592, French philosopher, priest, scientist, astronomer, and mathematician. Pierre Gassendi was born. Gassendi revived Epicureanism as a substitute for Aristotelianism, attempting in the process to reconcile Atomism‘s mechanistic explanation of nature with Christian belief in immortality, free will, an infinite God, and creation.He clashed with his contemporary Descartes on the possibility…
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John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

On January 21, 1821, English mathematician and astronomer John Couch Adams passed away. Adams most famous achievement was predicting the existence and position of Neptune, using only mathematics. The calculations were made to explain discrepancies with Uranus‘s orbit and the laws of Kepler and Newton. At the same time, but unknown to each other, the same calculations were made by Urbain Le Verrier.[5] Youth and Education John Couch Adams was born at…
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Project Diana hits the Moon… in 1946

Project Diana hits the Moon… in 1946

On January 10, 1946 the U.S. Army Project Diana team detected radar signals reflected off the moon‘s surface. This was the first experiment in radar astronomy and the first active attempt to probe another celestial body. Project Pioneer John H. DeWitt Project Diana was designed in order to bounce radar signals off the Moon and receive the reflected signals, which became the first known attempt to probe another celestial body. Pioneer of…
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The James Lick Telescope

The James Lick Telescope

On January 3, 1888, the James Lick Telescope saw first light at the Lick observatory, San Jose, USA. The Lick telescope is a refracting telescope with a lens 91 cm in diameter – a major achievement in its day and in its time the largest telescope in the world until 1897. The instrument remains in operation and public viewing is allowed on a limited basis. A lot of astronomical discoveries have been made…
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Maarten Schmidt and the Phenomenon of Quasars

Maarten Schmidt and the Phenomenon of Quasars

On December 28, 1929, Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt was born. Schmidt is best known for measuring the distances of quasars. Quasars or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to stars, rather…
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Modern Planetary Science with Gerard Kuiper

Modern Planetary Science with Gerard Kuiper

On December 7, 1905, Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Peter Kuiper was born. Considered by many to be the father of modern planetary science, Kuiper is the eponymous namesake of the Kuiper belt, a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. Kuiper also discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus, and Nereid, a moon of Neptune. “The Kuiper Belt…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1638, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory – Youth and Education James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at…
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Harlow Shapley and the Size of the Milky Way

Harlow Shapley and the Size of the Milky Way

On November 2, 1885, American astronomer Harlow Shapley was born. Shapley is best know for having correctly estimated the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and the sun’s position within it. Harlow Shapley – Early Years Harlow Shapley was born in Nashville, Missouri and dropped out of school after fifth grade. However, later on he managed to return to school and complete a six-year high school program in only two years. At…
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William Lassell and the Discovery of the Uranus Moons Ariel and Umbriel

William Lassell and the Discovery of the Uranus Moons Ariel and Umbriel

On October 24, 1851, English merchant and astronomer William Lassell discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of planet Uranus. Besides, he also discovered the Neptune moon Triton and the Saturn moon Hyperion. William Lassell – Early Years William Lassell was born in Bolton, Lancashire, UK,  and educated in Rochdale Academy. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Liverpool and later became a beer brewer and hobby astronomer. Lassell built himself an observatory…
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Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

On October 15, 1829, American astronomer Asaph Hall III was born, who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, in 1877. He determined the orbits of satellites of other planets and of double stars, the rotation of Saturn, and the mass of Mars. “The deepest truths require still deeper truths to explain them.” – Asaph Hall Asaph Hall – Early Years Asaph Hall was born in…
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