astronomy

Johann Heinrich von Mädler and the First Accurate Map of the Moon

Johann Heinrich von Mädler and the First Accurate Map of the Moon

On May 29, 1794, German astronomer Johann Heinrich von Mädler was born. He is best known for producing one of the first exact map of the Moon, the Mappa Selenographica. Even though Mädler’s talents were discovered very early into his childhood. Unfortunately, his parents passed away very early and he had to care care of his younger siblings, even though he had always wished to study mathematics and astronomy. He financed his family though…
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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? The Baily’s beads effect is a feature of total solar eclipses. As the moon…
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Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

Fizeau, Foucault and Astronomical Photography

On April 2, 1845, Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau and Jean Bernard Léon Foucault manage to make the very first photography of the Sun. Thereby, they both initiate astronomical photography. From a previous blog post you may remember Léon Foucault’s Pendulum.[4] The instrument was used to proof Earth’s rotation in the 1850s and counts to one of Foucault’s biggest scientific achievements. But let’s start a little bit earlier. Leon Foucault was born on September…
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The Sky Disc of Nebra

The Sky Disc of Nebra

On February 23, 2002, the state archaeologist Harald Meller succeeded to acquire the now famous Nebra Sky Disc in a police-led sting operation in Basel, Switzerland. The Nebra Sky Disc is a Bronze age artifact shaped like a disk with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols, representing a map of the sky. The Disk The disk weighs about 2,3 kg and consists of bronze as well as an alloy made…
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The Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory

The Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory

On January 26, 1949, the Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory sees first light under the direction of Edwin Hubble,[4] becoming the largest aperture optical telescope (until BTA-6 is built in 1976). George Ellery Hale George Ellery Hale was a solar astronomer, who was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois [5]. He studied at MIT, Harvard and in Berlin. He is mostly known for his invention of the spectrohelioscope during his time at…
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The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – Edwin Hubble contributions to Astronomy

The Universe goes beyond the Milky Way – Edwin Hubble contributions to Astronomy

Hubble Space TelescopeImage by NASA On November 20, 1889, American astronomer Edwin Hubble was born. He is best known for his role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. Although Edwin Hubble earned pretty good grades in school, he used to be more of a sportsman than a scientist. In 1907, he even led the University…
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Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

On November 9, 1934, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, and successful author Carl Sagan was born. Carl Sagan is known for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. Carl Sagan grew up in Brooklyn, New York and received his education in mainly public schools. Even though his parents were no scientists, they have influenced his later career dramatically. Taking him…
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Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and the Evolution of Stars

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and the Evolution of Stars

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) On October 19, 1910, Indian-American astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was born. He won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics together with William Alfred Fowler for key discoveries that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you might have encountered articles about scientists, artists, or explorers you might have never heard of.…
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Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

Ole Rømer and the Speed of Light

Ole Rømer at work On October 5, 1644 (or according to the old julian calendar September 25), Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Rømer was born. He is best known for making the first quantitative measurements of the speed of light. Ole Rømer enrolled at the University of Copenhagen in the 1660s and learned from famous scientists like Rasmus Bartholin. Bartholin discovered double refraction of a light ray by Iceland spar and became famous…
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Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey(1570 – 1619) On October 2, 1608,  German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey applied to the States-General of the Netherlands for a patent for his instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”. Even though scientists of the 12th century never heard of telescopes and most of them did not know specific laws of optics, the started laying the foundations for telescopes as we know them today. Ptolemy already began…
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