astronomy

And Kepler Has His Own Opera – Kepler’s 3rd Planetary Law

And Kepler Has His Own Opera – Kepler’s 3rd Planetary Law

On May 15, 1618, famous astronomer Johannes Kepler discovered the 3rd and also last of his planetary laws, and concluded the general revolution of our celestial world that started with Nikolaus Kopernikus about 100 years earlier.[1] And that made him rather popular as he still is today. Did you know that there is a Kepler crater on the Moon, a Kepler crater on Mars, a Kepler asteroid, a Kepler supernova, of course there…
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Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

On March 28, 1749, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace was born, whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. One of his major achievements was the conclusion of the five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) which translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. Pierre Simon Laplace, the son of a cider merchant was…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

On March 25, 1655, Saturn‘s largest moon Titan was discovered by astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens. Titan is considered as the most Earth-like moon discovered so far and the second largest in the solar system. Christiaan Huygens was born into an influential family and provided with a decent education all his life, leaning several foreign languages mathematics, logic, and rethoric. His father was friends with Galileo Galilei and René Descartes who early…
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Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

On March 6, 1787, German optician and physicist Joseph Fraunhofer – later enobled Ritter von Fraunhofer – was born. He is known for the discovery of the dark absorption lines known as Fraunhofer lines in the Sun‘s spectrum, and for making excellent optical glass and achromatic telescope objectives. Moreover, he is the name giver for the German Fraunhofer Society for the advancement of applied research. Joseph Fraunhofer was born in Straubing, Bavaria to…
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Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

On February 17, 1600, Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer Giordano Bruno was burned on the stake after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. Giordano Bruno was born as Filippo Bruno in Nola,  in the Kingdom…
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The Astronomical Machines of Johannes Stöffler

The Astronomical Machines of Johannes Stöffler

On February 16, 1531, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, priest, and maker of astronomical instruments Johannes Stöffler passed away. Stöffler was the first professor of astronomy at the University of Tübingen. At the end of the 1490s, Stöffler calculated a continuation of Regiomontan’s ephemeris [1] and constructed an equator for Johannes Reuchlin – an analog calculating machine for the direct location of a planet‘s position at a given point in time. Johannes Stöffler attended the…
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Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

On February 5, 1974, space probe Mariner 10 passed by at planet Venus shooting 4,165 high resolution pictures and continued its journey to Mercury, using the slingshot maneuver. Mariner 10 was the last of NASA‘s Mariner program and executed to measure the environment of Mercury as well as its surface and its atmosphere. The spacecraft was the second of all time to perform the gravitational slingshot maneuver, using Venus to bend its flight…
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Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

Caroline Herschel – The Comet Sweeper

On January 9, 1848, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, German-British astronomer and sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel, passed away at age 98. She is best know for the discovery of several comets, in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. Caroline Herschel grew up in the German town Hannover where she worked at her parent‘s home as a housekeeper and received a musical education followed by a starting career as a concert…
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Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Montage of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, in a composite image from top to bottom: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto ©NASA On January 7, 1610, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei turned his new telescope to the nocturnal sky to watch the planet Jupiter and discovered the eponymous four moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganimede, and Callisto.[1,2] Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey [3] tried to…
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The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johann Lexell

The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johann Lexell

On December 24, 1740, Finnish-Swedish astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Anders Johann Lexell was born. Lexell made important discoveries in polygonometry and celestial mechanics; the latter led to a comet named in his honour. La Grande Encyclopédie states that he was the prominent mathematician of his time who contributed to spherical trigonometry with new and interesting solutions, which he took as a basis for his research of comet and planet motion. His name…
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