astronomy

Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

On June 2, 1966, spaceprobe Surveyor 1, the first of NASA‘s unmanned Surveyor program, as the first American spaceprobe achieved a soft landing on the moon about half a year after the first Moon landing by the Soviet Union‘s Luna 9 probe.[5,6,7] Luna 9 and the Cold War Space Race Already on February 3, 1966, the Luna 9 spacecraft had softly landed on the Moon, which also was the first of any…
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Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

On May 17, 1836, English astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer was born. Lockyer is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern astrophysics and founder of archaeoastronomy. Along with the French scientist Pierre Janssen, he is credited with discovering the gas helium. Lockyer also is remembered for being the founder and first editor of the influential journal Nature. “The nineteenth century will ever be known as the one in which the influences of…
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Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

On April 30, 1777, German mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss was born. He contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics. He is often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, “the Prince of Mathematicians”) as well as “greatest mathematician since antiquity”. “Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic is the Queen of Mathematics” – handed down in Wolfgang Sartorius…
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Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

On March 19, 1915, American astronomer Percival Lowell began to make photographies of the sky in the Lowell Observatory, which was founded by him, to search for a planet beyond Neptune. 15 years later, the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered on these photographies. “Formulae are the anaesthetics of thought, not its stimulants and to make any one think is far better worth while than cramming him with ill-considered, and therefore indigestible, learning.” –…
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Giovanni Schiaparelli and the Martian Canals

Giovanni Schiaparelli and the Martian Canals

On March 14, 1835, Italian astronomer and science historian Giovanni Schiaparelli was born. He is remembered best for his observations of planet Mars, where he discovered a dense network of linear structures on the surface of Mars which he called “canali” in Italian, meaning “channels” but the term was mistranslated into English as “canals” indicating that the observed structures should be of artificial origin. Early Years Schiaparelli graduated in 1854 from the…
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Sir William Herschel and the Discovery of Uranus

Sir William Herschel and the Discovery of Uranus

On March 13, 1781, Sir William Herschel for the first time observed planet Uranus while in the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in the town of Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), but initially reported it (on April 26, 1781) as a “comet“. “A knowledge of the construction of the heavens has always been the ultimate object of my observations…” – William Herschel, Astronomical Observations relating…
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John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

On March 4, 1675, the English King Charles II appoints John Flamsteed to “The King’s Astronomical Observator” – the first English Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of £100 a year. In the same year, the Royal Greenwich Observatory was founded and Flamsteed laid the foundation stone. Youth and Education John Flamsteed was born the only son of the merchant Stephen Flamsteed and his first wife Mary Spadman from Denby in the county…
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Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

On February 19, 1473, Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus was born, who established the heliocentric model, which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe. With the publication of his research he started the so-called Copernican Recolution, which started a paradigm shift away from the former Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the universe, towards the heliocentric model with the…
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The Galileo Affair

The Galileo Affair

On February 13, 1633, Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome and was brought before the inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged for his defence of the Copernican theory in his writings. In the course of the trial, Galilei was found guilty and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. All in all, Galileo is a frequent guest in our blog. Besides his life, we have already reported about his astronomical…
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Deep Impact and the Comet 9P/Tempel

Deep Impact and the Comet 9P/Tempel

On January 12, 2005, NASA space probe Deep Impact was launched. It was designed to study the interior composition of the comet 9P/Tempel, by releasing an impactor into the comet, which successfully collided with the comet’s nucleus. Mission Background The main mission of Deep Impact was to explore the interior of Temple 1 by placing a 372 kg heavy projectile (impactor) into the trajectory of the comet, which hit it and left a…
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