astronomy

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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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 Gould and the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere

Benjamin 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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