astronomy

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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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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