astronomy

A. E. Douglass and the Dendrochronology

A. E. Douglass and the Dendrochronology

On July 5, 1867, American astronomer and archeologist A. E. (Andrew Ellicott) Douglass was born. He coined the name dendrochronology for tree-ring dating, a field he originated while working at the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, by his discovery a correlation between tree rings and the sunspot cycle. A. E. Douglass Background A. E. Douglass was not the first, who suggested that a tree’s rings could determine its age. The first known record of…
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Charles Messier and the Discovery of Nebulae

Charles Messier and the Discovery of Nebulae

On June 26, 1730, French astronomer Charles Messier was born. He is best known for his publication of an astronomical catalogue consisting of nebulae and star clusters that came to be known as the 110 “Messier objects”. The purpose of the catalogue was to help astronomical observers, in particular comet hunters such as himself, distinguish between permanent and transient visually diffuse objects in the sky. “What caused me to undertake the catalog was…
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The Discovery of Charon, Pluto’s largest Moon

The Discovery of Charon, Pluto’s largest Moon

On June 22, 1978, US astronomer James Christie discovered Charon, the largest moon of Pluto. Although there was a discussion after the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf, Charon is not in the list of dwarf planets currently recognized by the IAU. A Bulge on Pluto On June 22, 1978,  James Christy had examined the magnified images of the former planet Pluto, taken with the 61-inch Flagstaff telescope two months prior. He noticed a…
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Gerald Hawkins and the Secret of Stonehenge

Gerald Hawkins and the Secret of Stonehenge

On June 20, 1928, English astronomer and author Gerald Stanley Hawkins was born. He is best known for his work in the field of archaeoastronomy. In 1965 he published an analysis of Stonehenge in which he was the first to propose its purpose as an ancient astronomical observatory used to predict movements of sun and stars. Background Gerald Hawkins Gerald Hawkins was born in Great Yarmouth and studied physics and mathematics at…
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Johann Gottfried Galle and the First Observation of Planet Neptune

Johann Gottfried Galle and the First Observation of Planet Neptune

On June 9, 1812, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was born. Galle actually was the first person to view the planet Neptune and know what he was looking at, by making use of the calculations of his fellow astronomer Urbain Le Verrier. Background Johann Gottfried Galle Johann Gottfried Galle studied at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin between 1839 and 1833 and started to work at the new Berlin Observatory two years later. There, he worked…
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Regiomontanus – Forerunner of Modern Astronomy

Regiomontanus – Forerunner of Modern Astronomy

On June 6, 1436, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic bishop Johannes Müller aus Königsberg was born, better known under the Latinized version of his name as Regiomontanus. His diligent and accurate observations, measurements and recordings paved the way for modern astronomers such as Tycho Brahe [4] and Nikolaus Copernicus.[5] Johannes Müller from Königsberg Johannes Müller from Königsberg, a small town in Lower Franconia, Germany, grew up in a well situated…
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Georg von Peuerbach – Astronomy at the Beginning of the Scientific Revolution in Early Modern Age

Georg von Peuerbach – Astronomy at the Beginning of the Scientific Revolution in Early Modern Age

On May 30, 1423, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach was born. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum. Furthermore, he promoted the use of Arabic numerals (introduced 250 years earlier in place of Roman numerals), especially in a table of sines he calculated with unprecedented accuracy. Not much is known about Peuerbach’s Early Life There is not much known about…
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Frank Drake, Project Ozma and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Frank Drake, Project Ozma and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

On May 28, 1930, American astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake was born. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1960 in Project Ozma, developing the Drake equation, and as the creator of the Arecibo Message, a digital encoding of an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and its…
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Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

On May 15, 1836, English astronomer Francis Baily for the first time observed the so-called ‘Baily’s beads‘ during an eclipse of the Sun. For sure you know the effect, although you might not have seen it with your own eyes in nature. But, numerous photographs, pictures, and videos have been published, where the phenomenon can be watched. So what are Beailey’s beads? Solar Eclipse and Baily Beads The Baily’s beads effect is a feature of…
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Giovanni Riccioli – a man of Encyclopedic Knowledge

Giovanni Riccioli – a man of Encyclopedic Knowledge

On April 17, 1598, Italian astronomer and a Catholic priest in the Jesuit order Giovanni Battista Riccioli was born. He is known, among other things, for his experiments with pendulums and with falling bodies, for his discussion of 126 arguments concerning the motion of the Earth, and for introducing the current scheme of lunar nomenclature. He also was the first to observe a double star (two stars so close together that they…
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