astronomy

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

On July 4, 1868, American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born. She is best known for her discovery of the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Based on her luminosity-period relation for Cepheids, Edwin Hubble was able to determine that the universe is expanding. Henrietta Swan Leavitt – Early Years Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, as daughter among seven children of Congregational church minister…
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William Parsons and his Very Large Telescopes

William Parsons and his Very Large Telescopes

On June 17, 1800, Irish astronomer William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, was born. As an astronomer, he had several telescopes built, among them his 72-inch telescope, built in 1845 and colloquially known of as the “Leviathan of Parsonstown“, which was the world’s largest telescope, in terms of aperture size, until the early 20th century. In 1848, he found and named the Crab Nebula (because he thought it resembled a crab), by which name…
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Williamina Fleming – Harvard Computer and Astronomer

Williamina Fleming – Harvard Computer and Astronomer

On May 15, 1857, Scottish astronomer Williamina Paton Fleming was born. She helped develop a common designation system for stars and catalogued thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena. Fleming is especially noted for her discovery of the Horsehead Nebula in 1888. Williamina Fleming – Early Years Williamina Paton Fleming was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1857. She attended a public school and became a pupil-teacher when she was 14. She entered…
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Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

On May 10, 1900, British–American astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was born. She was the first to apply laws of atomic physics to the study of the temperature and density of stellar bodies, and the first to conclude that hydrogen and helium are the two most common elements in the universe. It was another 20 years before Payne’s original claim was confirmed, by Fred Hoyle. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin – Early Years Cecilia…
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Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

On April 28, 1900, Dutch physicist and astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort was born. One of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Oort made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the sun is at its center; he discovered mysterious invisible ‘dark matter‘ in 1932, as well…
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Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

On March 7, 1837, American doctor and amateur astronomer Henry Draper was born. He is best known today as a pioneer of astrophotography. After his death, the Henry Draper Catalog of stellar spectra as well the Henry Draper medal is named after him. Henry Draper was the son of John William Draper, a doctor, chemist, and professor at New York University. He was known for his interest in the chemical effects of…
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Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

Georg Joachim Rheticus’ Achievements for Astronomy

On February 16, 1514, mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher Georg Joachim Rheticus was born. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus’s [4] sole pupil, who facilitated the publication of his master’s famous work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres). Georg Joachim Rheticus was the son of a doctor and government official. He was taught by his father in his early life,…
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Pierre Gassendi and his Trials to reconcile Epicurean Atomism with Christianity

Pierre Gassendi and his Trials to reconcile Epicurean Atomism with Christianity

You have read the title? I guess, you might be scared now, but Pierre Gassendi was a decent fellow… On January 22, 1592, French philosopher, priest, scientist, astronomer, and mathematician. Pierre Gassendi was born. Gassendi revived Epicureanism as a substitute for Aristotelianism, attempting in the process to reconcile Atomism‘s mechanistic explanation of nature with Christian belief in immortality, free will, an infinite God, and creation.He clashed with his contemporary Descartes on the possibility…
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Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

On January 20 (or January 10 according to the old Julian calendar), 1573, German astronomer Simon Marius was born. Marius was pupil of Tycho Brahe, one of the earliest users of the telescope and the first in print to make mention the Andromeda nebula. He studied and named the four largest moons of Jupiter that he claimed to have them discovered independently and even before Galileo. Simon Marius’ Early Years Simon Marius was…
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Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

On December 11, 1863, American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born. Her cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures. “A life spent in the routine of science need not destroy the attractive human element of a woman’s nature.” —…
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