astronomy

Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

On September 5, 1908, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian was born. Ambartsumian is well known as one of the founders of theoretical astrophysics. He worked in the field of physics of stars and nebulae, stellar astronomy, dynamics of stellar systems and cosmogony of stars and galaxies, and contributed to mathematical physics. Early Years Victor Ambartsumian was the son of the prominent philologist and writer Hamazasp Asaturovich Ambartsumian, the translator of Homer’s Iliad…
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Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

Dear reader, we’ve realized that our daily blog on History of Science somehow is focussed on the Western view of history and the World. Of course it’s because we ourselves are part of this Western world of science. Nevertheless, we have also to include scientists and other people important for the history of science, who are not part of this Western canon of science. Today, we begin with the famous Persian astrologer, astronomer, and philosopher Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi. Probably on August 10, 787, Persian astrologer Abu Ma’shar, Latinized as Albumasar,…
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Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

On July 1, 1916, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky was born. Shklovsky identified the continuum radiation of the Crab Nebula as synchrotron radiation, and he linked x-ray stars to binary systems containing a neutron star. He is also remembered for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan in 1966 as ‘Intelligent Life in the Universe‘. Iosif Shklovsky – The…
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Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn and the Rotation of the Milky Way

Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn and the Rotation of the Milky Way

On June 18, 1922, Dutch astronomer Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn passed away. Kapteyn carried out extensive studies of the Milky Way and was the discoverer of evidence for galactic rotation. He used photography and statistical methods in determining the motions and spatial distribution of stars, the first major step after the works of William and John Herschel.[6,7] Jacobus C. Kapteyn – Early Year Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn was born on 19 January 1851 in…
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Donald Howard Menzel and the UFOs

Donald Howard Menzel and the UFOs

On April 11, 1901, theoretical astronomer and astrophysicist Donald Howard Menzel was born. Menzel discovered the physical properties of the solar chromosphere, the chemistry of stars, the atmosphere of Mars, and the nature of gaseous nebulae. Moreover, he was best known for his arguments against the existence of extraterrestrial UFOs. Early Years Donald Howard Menzel already collected rocks as a child and built a chemistry laboratory in the cellar of his family’s…
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In Search for Exoplanets with the CoRoT Space Observatory

In Search for Exoplanets with the CoRoT Space Observatory

On December 27, 2006, the European space observatory CoRoT was launched. CoRoT‘s two objectives are to search for extrasolar planets with short orbital periods, particularly those of large terrestrial size, and to perform asteroseismology by measuring solar-like oscillations in stars. CoRoT stands for COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits (French: COnvection ROtation et Transits planétaires) and is a space observatory mission led by the French Space Agency (CNES) in conjunction with the European…
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Edward Barnard and His Love for Celestial Photography

Edward Barnard and His Love for Celestial Photography

On December 16, 1856, American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard was born. Barnard is best known for his discovery of the high proper motion of Barnard’s Star in 1916, which is named in his honor. He also pioneered in celestial photography, specializing in wide-field photography. Early Life Edward Barnard was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Reuben Barnard and Elizabeth Jane née Haywood. His father died before his birth, and the son grew…
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Karl Jansky and the Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves

Karl Jansky and the Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves

On October 22, 1905, American physicist and radio engineer Karl Guthe Jansky was born. In August 1931 Jansky first discovered radio waves emanating from the Milky Way. He is considered one of the founding figures of radio astronomy. Karl Jansky – Background Karl Jansky was born the third of six children in what was then the Territory of Oklahoma where his father, Cyril M. Jansky, the descendent of Czech immigrants, was Dean of…
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Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

On August 15, 1977, a strong narrowband radio signal was received by the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University, United States, then assigned to a SETI project. Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman discovered the signal a few days later, while reviewing the recorded data and was so impressed that he circled the reading on the computer printout and wrote the comment Wow! on its side. Radio Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman…
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The Gran Telescopio Canarias

The Gran Telescopio Canarias

On July 14, 2007, the Gran Telescopio Canarias saw first light, also known as the Great Canary Telescope (GTC), located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain. With an aperture of 10.4m, as of 2015, it is the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope. It has a segmented mirror, i.e. an array of smaller mirrors designed to act as segments of a single…
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