astronomy

John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

John Flamsteed – Astronomer Royal

On March 4, 1675, the English King Charles II appoints John Flamsteed to “The King’s Astronomical Observator” – the first English Astronomer Royal, with an allowance of £100 a year. In the same year, the Royal Greenwich Observatory was founded and Flamsteed laid the foundation stone. Youth and Education John Flamsteed was born the only son of the merchant Stephen Flamsteed and his first wife Mary Spadman from Denby in the county…
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Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

Nikolaus Copernicus and the Heliocentric Model

On February 19, 1473, Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus was born, who established the heliocentric model, which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe. With the publication of his research he started the so-called Copernican Recolution, which started a paradigm shift away from the former Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the universe, towards the heliocentric model with the…
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The Galileo Affair

The Galileo Affair

On February 13, 1633, Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome and was brought before the inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged for his defence of the Copernican theory in his writings. In the course of the trial, Galilei was found guilty and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. All in all, Galileo is a frequent guest in our blog. Besides his life, we have already reported about his astronomical…
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Deep Impact and the Comet 9P/Tempel

Deep Impact and the Comet 9P/Tempel

On January 12, 2005, NASA space probe Deep Impact was launched. It was designed to study the interior composition of the comet 9P/Tempel, by releasing an impactor into the comet, which successfully collided with the comet’s nucleus. Mission Background The main mission of Deep Impact was to explore the interior of Temple 1 by placing a 372 kg heavy projectile (impactor) into the trajectory of the comet, which hit it and left a…
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Jeremiah Horrocks and the Transit of Venus

Jeremiah Horrocks and the Transit of Venus

On January 3, 1641, English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks passed away. He was the first scientist to demonstrate that the Moon moved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit and was the only person to predict the transit of Venus of 1639. Background Jeremiah Horrocks grew up in a well educated family and was introduced to astronomy in early years. He was occupied with many astronomical tasks as a young boy and enrolled at…
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Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

On 2 January 1860, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier announced the discovery of Vulcan, a hypothetical planet inside the Mercury orbit, to a meeting of the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Despite the lack of any reliable observation, Le Verrier really was convinced until his death that he had discovered a new planet. It was Einstein’s special theory of relativity and a completely new understanding of the laws of gravity that modified the predicted…
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Giuseppe Piazzi and the Discovery of Dwarf Planet Ceres

Giuseppe Piazzi and the Discovery of Dwarf Planet Ceres

On January 1, 1801, Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered Ceres, today known as the largest member of the asteroid belt. We already had several articles on almost all the planets of the Solar System, including the dwarf planets. [14] As you might know, our Solar System does not only comprise the Sun and the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Besides…
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Giovanni Domenico Cassini and the Moons of Saturn

Giovanni Domenico Cassini and the Moons of Saturn

On December 23, 1672, Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini discovered Rhea, the 2nd largest of the 62 Saturn moons that are known by today. Background and Education Giovanni Cassini Cassini was born in Perinaldo (Liguria). He married the rich Geneviève de Laistre, became a French citizen in 1673 and began to write his first name Jean-Dominique. Cassini studied at the Jesuit College in Genoa and Bologna. Through the influence of the former…
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Tycho Brahe – The Man with the Golden Nose

Tycho Brahe – The Man with the Golden Nose

On December 14, 1546, Danish nobleman and astronomer Tycho Brahe, known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations was born. “Non haberi, sed esse.” “Not shine, but be.” – Tycho Brahe’s Election slogan Background Tycho Brahe was born at Knutstorp Castle, Scania, at that time Denmark, into a politically powerful family of noblemen and political advisors. He grew up with his uncle, also a nobleman, who supplied his nephew with a…
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Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Discovery of Pulsars

Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Discovery of Pulsars

On November 28, 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish discovered the first Pulsar, a fast rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation of a pulsar can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing toward the Earth, much the way a lighthouse can only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance…
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