astronomy

Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi – The Prince of Astrologers

Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi – The Prince of Astrologers

Probably on August 10, 787, Persian astrologer, astronomer, and Islamic philosopher Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (Abu Ma’shar Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar al-Balkhi) was born. He is thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid court in Baghdad. He wrote a number of practical manuals on astrology that profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through translations, that of western Europe and Byzantium. We’ve realized that our daily blog on History of Science somehow…
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Maria Mitchell and the Comets

Maria Mitchell and the Comets

Maria Mitchell (1814-1889) On August 1, 1814, American astronomer Maria Mitchell was born who, in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet“. Maria Mitchell was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, among nine brothers and sisters to William Mitchell and Lydia Coleman Mitchell, both Unusual for that time, Maria Mitchell’s parents as Quakers valued education and insisted on giving her the same quality…
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Friedrich Bessel and the Distances of Stars

Friedrich Bessel and the Distances of Stars

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) [1] On July 22, 1784, German mathematician and astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel was born. He is probably best known for his works in mathematics, where he discovered the eponymous Bessel-functions, which are critical for the solution of certain differential equations. Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel was born in Minden, Westphalia (today Germany), as second son of a civil servant. Bessel attended the Gymnasium in Minden for four years but he did…
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Jean Picard and his Love for Accuracy

Jean Picard and his Love for Accuracy

Jean-Félix Picard (1620 – 1682) On July 21, 1620, French astronomer, cartographer and hydraulic engineer Jean-Félix Picard was born. He is regarded as the founder of modern astronomy in France. He introduced new methods, improved the old instruments, and added new devices, such as Huygens‘ pendulum clock to record times and time intervals. Jean-Félix Picard was born as a son of a bookseller and was allowed to study at the Jesuit Collège Royal…
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Rudolf Wolf and the Sunspots

Rudolf Wolf and the Sunspots

Rudolf Wolf (1816.1893) On July 7, 1816, Swiss astronomer and astronomical historian Rudolf Wolf was born. Wolf’s main contribution was the discovery of the 11 year sunspot cycle and he was the co-discoverer of its connection with geomagnetic activity on Earth. Johann Rudolf Wolf was born in Fällanden, near Zurich, to Regula Gossweiler and Johannes Wolf, who was a minister in the Church. After studying at the Zurich Industrieschule, Wolf attended the University of…
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A. E. Douglass and the Dendrochronology

A. E. Douglass and the Dendrochronology

Drill to take samples for dendrochronology from trees Image by Wikimedia User Hannes Grobe 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 was not the first, who suggested that a tree’s…
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Lyman Spitzer and the Space Telescope

Lyman Spitzer and the Space Telescope

On June 26, 1914, American theoretical physicist, astronomer and mountaineer Lyman Strong Spitzer was born. Researching in star formation and plasma physics, he is probably best known for being the first to conceive the idea of telescopes operating in outer space. Thus, he is also the namesake of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Well mountaineer and astronomer at the same time, I guess we never had a fellow like Lyman Spitzer up to…
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The Discovery of Charon

The Discovery of Charon

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. On June 22, 1978,  John Christy had examined the magnified images of the former planet Pluto, taken with the 61-inch Flagstaff telescope two months prior. He noticed a periodically appearing elongation, which…
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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. Gerald Hawkins was born in Great Yarmouth and studied physics and mathematics at the University of…
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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. 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 for 16 years and…
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