astronomy

Helen Hogg and the Globular Clusters

Helen Hogg and the Globular Clusters

On August 1, 1905, American-Canadian astronomer Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg was born. Hogg is noted for pioneering research into globular clusters (stars with cyclical changes of brightness found within huge, dense conglomerations of stars located in the outer halo of the Milky Way galaxy) and variable stars. She was the first female president of several astronomical organizations and a notable woman of science in a time when many universities would…
The Gran Telescopio Canarias

The Gran Telescopio Canarias

On July 14, 2007, the Gran Telescopio Canarias saw first light, also known as the Great Canary Telescope (GTC), located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain. With an aperture of 10.4m, as of 2015, it is the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope. It has a segmented mirror, i.e. an array of smaller mirrors designed to act as segments of…
Jérôme Lalande measuring the distance to the Moon

Jérôme Lalande measuring the distance to the Moon

On July 11, 1732, French astronomer, freemason and writer Jérôme Lalande was born. Lalande is best known for having determined the Moon’s parallax from Berlin for the French Academy in 1751. His planetary tables, into which he introduced corrections for mutual perturbations, were the best available up to the end of the 18th century. Jérôme Lalande first studied at the Jesuit College in Lyon and later went to Paris to…
George Ellery Hale and the Magnetic Fields in Sunspots

George Ellery Hale and the Magnetic Fields in Sunspots

On June 29, 1868, American solar astronomer George Ellery Hale was born. He is best known for his discovery of magnetic fields in sunspots, and as the leader or key figure in the planning or construction of several world-leading telescopes, including the 200-inch Hale reflecting telescope at Palomar Observatory. George Ellery Hale was the oldest of three children  and it is believed that he was highly supported by his parents…
Alan Sandage and Quasars

Alan Sandage and Quasars

On June 18, 1926, American astronomer Allan Rex Sandage was born. Sandage determined the first reasonably accurate values for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe. Foremost, he is also credited with the discvery of the 3C 48 quasar, i.e. quasi-stellar radio sources which are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei. It is believed that the first quasars were…
Johannes Fabricius and the Sunspots

Johannes Fabricius and the Sunspots

Probably on June 13, 1611, Dutch astronomer Johannes Fabricius published his Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione (Account of Spots Observed on the Sun and of Their Apparent Rotation with the Sun), which counts as the first published description of sunspots. Nevertheless, sunspots have been discovered earlier, as the first record of a sunspot drawing dates back into the 12th century to John of…
Govaert Wendelen – the Ptolemy of Renaissance

Govaert Wendelen – the Ptolemy of Renaissance

On June 6, 1580, Flemish astronomer Govaert Wendelin (Godefroy Wendelen), Latinized Godefridus Wendelinus was born. Wendelen also was known as the Ptolemy of his time. Despite going against the tenets of his Church, he was an audacious proponent of the Copernican theory that the planets orbit around the Sun. He made more accurate measurements of the distance to the sun as previously made by Aristachus (2,000 years earlier). Godefroy Wendelin…
John Tebbutt and the Great Comet of 1861

John Tebbutt and the Great Comet of 1861

On May 13, 1861, Australian astronomer John Tebbutt discovered C/1861 J1, the Great Comet of 1861. C/1861 J1 is a long-period comet that was visible to the naked eye for approximately 3 months. It was categorized as a Great Comet, one of the eight greatest comets of the 19th century. John Tebbutt was first educated at the Church of England parish school and later at a private school. After his retirement, his father…
Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

On April 8, 1461, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach passed away. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum, a task being finally completed by famous astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, better known as Regiomontanus. Georg Peurbach’s father was Ulrich Aunpekh. The name Peurbach is just derived from the town in which they lived, about 40 km west of Linz,…
John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

On March 7, 1792, English polymath, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor, and experimental photographer Sir John Herschel was born. Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy and named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays. Overall, he advocated an inductive approach to scientific experiment and…
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