astronomy

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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James Challis and his failure to discover the planet Neptune

James Challis and his failure to discover the planet Neptune

On December 12, 1803, English clergyman, physicist and astronomer James Challis was born. Challis investigated a wide range of physical phenomena though made few lasting contributions outside astronomy. He is best remembered for his missed opportunity to discover the planet Neptune in 1846. James Challis was born in Braintree, Essex, UK, where his father, John Challis, was a stonemason.After attending Braintree School, the Revd Daniel Copsey’s school, Braintree, and Mill Hill School,…
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Russian Polymath Mikhail Lomonosow

Russian Polymath Mikhail Lomonosow

On November 19, 1711, Russian polymath, scientist and writer Mikhail Lomonosov was born. Lomonosov made important contributions to literature, education, and science. Among his discoveries were the atmosphere of Venus and the Law of Mass Conservation in chemical reactions. His spheres of science were natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, art, philology, optical devices and others. Lomonosov was also a poet and influenced the formation of the modern Russian literary language. Mikhail Lomonosov…
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William Lassell and the Discovery of Triton

William Lassell and the Discovery of Triton

On October 10, 1846, English merchant and astronomer William Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. Besides, Lassell also discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of planet Uranus [3], as well the Saturn moon Hyperion. Lassell started a brewery business about 1825, after a seven-year apprenticeship. He became interested in astronomy and, in 1844, began construction of…
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Benjamin Apthorp Gould and the stars of the Southern Hemisphere

Benjamin Apthorp Gould and the stars of the Southern Hemisphere

On September 27, 1824, American astronomer Benjamin Apthorp Gould was born. Gould is noted for creating the Astronomical Journal, discovering the Gould Belt, and for founding of the Argentine National Observatory and the Argentine National Weather Service. His star catalogs helped fix the list of constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. Benjamin Apthorp Gould attended Harvard University and graduated in 1844. He continued his education in Germany, more specifically in Göttingen. Gould studied mathematics…
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Jean Sylvain Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

Jean Sylvain Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

On September 15, 1736, French astronomer, mathematician, freemason, and political leader of the early part of the French Revolution Jean Sylvain Bailly was born. Bailly computed an orbit for Halley’s Comet (1759) and studied the four satellites of Jupiter then known. He was the first Mayor of Paris and presided over the Tennis Court Oath. Jean Sylvain Bailly came from a family of artists. His father was an artist and supervisor of the…
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Astronomer James Jeans

Astronomer James Jeans

On September 11, 1877, English physicist, astronomer and mathematician James Hopwood Jeans was born. Jeans was the first to propose that matter is continuously created throughout the universe. He made other innovations in astronomical theory but is perhaps best known as a writer of popular books about astronomy. James Jeans was attended several schools, he joined Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, Wilson’s Grammar School, as well as Camberwell and Trinity College, Cambridge.  At Cambridge, he…
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James Keeler and the Rings of Saturn

James Keeler and the Rings of Saturn

On September 10, 1857, American astronomer James Edward Keeler was born. Keeler is best known for being the astronomer who confirmed James Clerk Maxwell‘s theory that the rings of Saturn were not solid (requiring uniform rotation), but composed of meteoric particles. James Edward Keeler was born in La Salle, Illinois, to William F. Keeler, who served as a paymaster in the U.S. Navy at the time of the American Civil War, and…
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Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

On September 5, 1908, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian was born. Ambartsumian is well known as one of the founders of theoretical astrophysics. He worked in the field of physics of stars and nebulae, stellar astronomy, dynamics of stellar systems and cosmogony of stars and galaxies, and contributed to mathematical physics. Victor Ambartsumian was the son of the prominent philologist and writer Hamazasp Asaturovich Ambartsumian, the translator of Homer’s Iliad into Armenian.…
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Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

On August 10, 787, Persian astrologer Abu Ma’shar, Latinized as Albumasar, was probably born. Abu Maʿshar thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid court in Baghdad. While he was not a major innovator, his practical manuals for training astrologers profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through translations, that of western Europe and Byzantium. He is known primarily for his theory that the world, created when the seven planets were in conjunction in the…
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