astronomy

The Life and Work of Georg von Peuerbach

The Life and Work of Georg von Peuerbach

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. There is not much known about Peuerbach’s early life. However, he probably entered the…
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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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Williamina Stevens Fleming and her Achievements in Astronomy

Williamina Stevens Fleming and her Achievements in Astronomy

On May 15, 1857, Scottish astronomer Williamina Paton Fleming was born. She helped develop a common designation system for stars and catalogued thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena. Fleming is especially noted for her discovery of the Horsehead Nebula in 1888. Williamina Paton Fleming was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1857. She attended a public school and became a pupil-teacher when she was 14. She entered Harvard College Observatory as a…
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Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

On May 10, 1900, British–American astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was born. She was the first to apply laws of atomic physics to the study of the temperature and density of stellar bodies, and the first to conclude that hydrogen and helium are the two most common elements in the universe. It was another 20 years before Payne’s original claim was confirmed, by Fred Hoyle. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin earned a scholarship to…
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Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

On April 28, 1900, Dutch physicist and astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort was born. One of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Oort made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the sun is at its center; he discovered mysterious invisible ‘dark matter‘ in 1932, as well…
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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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Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

On March 7, 1837, American doctor and amateur astronomer Henry Draper was born. He is best known today as a pioneer of astrophotography. After his death, the Henry Draper Catalog of stellar spectra as well the Henry Draper medal is named after him. Henry Draper was the son of John William Draper, a doctor, chemist, and professor at New York University. He was known for his interest in the chemical effects of…
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Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

On February 16, 1514, mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher Georg Joachim Rheticus was born. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus’s [4] sole pupil, who facilitated the publication of his master’s famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres). Georg Joachim Rheticus was the son of a doctor and government official. He was taught by his father in his early life,…
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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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Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

On January 20 (or January 10 according to the old Julian calendar), 1573, German astronomer Simon Marius was born. Marius was pupil of Tycho Brahe, one of the earliest users of the telescope and the first in print to make mention the Andromeda nebula. He studied and named the four largest moons of Jupiter that he claimed to have them discovered independently and even before Galileo. Simon Marius’ Early Years Simon Marius was…
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