astronomy

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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Johann Elert Bode and the Titius-Bode Law

Johann Elert Bode and the Titius-Bode Law

On November 23, 1826, German astronomer Johann Elert Bode passed away. Bode is best known for his popularization of the Titius-Bode‘s law, a hypothesis that the bodies in some orbital systems, including the Sun‘s, orbit at semi-major axes in a function of planetary sequence. The formula suggests that, extending outward, each planet would be approximately twice as far from the Sun as the one before. Early Years Johann Elert Bode was born…
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The Almanachs of Benjamin Banneker

The Almanachs of Benjamin Banneker

On November 9, 1731, American almanac author, surveyor, naturalist and farmer Benjamin Banneker was born. Born in Baltimore County, Maryland, to a free African American woman and a former slave, Banneker had little formal education and was largely self-taught. Banneker’s knowledge of astronomy helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the United States Declaration of Independence, on the topics of slavery and racial…
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Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician in the second century BC. He is considered the founder of trigonometry but is most famous for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes. His other reputed achievements include the discovery and measurement of Earth‘s precession, the compilation of the first comprehensive star catalog of the western world, and possibly the invention of the astrolabe, also of the armillary sphere, which…
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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 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 the College of Engineering…
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Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

On October 8, 1873, Danish chemist and astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung was born. Together with Henry Norris Russell, Hertzsprung developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, a scatter graph of stars showing the relationship between the stars‘ absolute magnitudes or luminosities versus their spectral classifications or effective temperatures, which has become fundamental to the study of stellar evolution. Ejnar Hertzsprung – Early Years Ejnar Hertzsprung was probably not formally educated, but studied in technological colleges in Denmark…
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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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Johannes Fabricius and the Observation of Sunspots

Probably on June 13, 1611, Frisian astronomer Johannes Fabricius published his Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione (Account of Spots Observed on the Sun and of Their Apparent Rotation with the Sun), which counts as the first published description of sunspots. Nevertheless, sunspots have been discovered earlier, as the first record of a sunspot drawing dates back into the 12th century to John of Worcester in 1128. Johannes…
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