astronomy

CoRoT Space Observatory

CoRoT Space Observatory

On December 27, 2006, the European space observatory CoRoT was launched. CoRoT‘s two objectives are to search for extrasolar planets with short orbital periods, particularly those of large terrestrial size, and to perform asteroseismology by measuring solar-like oscillations in stars. CoRoT stands for COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits (French: COnvection ROtation et Transits planétaires) and is a space observatory mission led by the French Space Agency (CNES) in conjunction with the European…
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Edward Emerson Barnard and Celestial Photography

Edward Emerson Barnard and Celestial Photography

On December 16, 1856, American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard was born. Barnard is best known for his discovery of the high proper motion of Barnard’s Star in 1916, which is named in his honor. He also pioneered in celestial photography, specializing in wide-field photography. Edward Barnard became a photographer’s assistant at the age of about nine. Later on, he began develop enthusiasm for astronomy. Around 1876, Barnard purchased a 130mm refractor telescope, and in…
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Johann Elert Bode and the Titius-Bode Law

Johann Elert Bode and the Titius-Bode Law

On November 23, 1826, German astronomer Johann Elert Bode passed away. Bode is best known for his popularization of the Titius-Bode‘s law, a hypothesis that the bodies in some orbital systems, including the Sun‘s, orbit at semi-major axes in a function of planetary sequence. The formula suggests that, extending outward, each planet would be approximately twice as far from the Sun as the one before. Johann Elert Bode was born in Hamburg,…
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The Almanachs of Benjamin Banneker

The Almanachs of Benjamin Banneker

On November 9, 1731, American almanac author, surveyor, naturalist and farmer Benjamin Banneker was born. Born in Baltimore County, Maryland, to a free African American woman and a former slave, Banneker had little formal education and was largely self-taught. Banneker’s knowledge of astronomy helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the United States Declaration of Independence, on the topics of slavery and racial…
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Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Precession of the Equinoxes

Hipparchus of Nicaea was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician in the second century BC. He is considered the founder of trigonometry but is most famous for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes. His other reputed achievements include the discovery and measurement of Earth‘s precession, the compilation of the first comprehensive star catalog of the western world, and possibly the invention of the astrolabe, also of the armillary sphere, which…
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Karl Jansky and the Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves

Karl Jansky and the Discovery of Cosmic Radio Waves

On October 22, 1905, American physicist and radio engineer Karl Guthe Jansky was born. In August 1931 Jansky first discovered radio waves emanating from the Milky Way. He is considered one of the founding figures of radio astronomy. Karl Jansky was born the third of six children in what was then the Territory of Oklahoma where his father, Cyril M. Jansky, the descendent of Czech immigrants, was Dean of the College of Engineering…
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Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

Ejnar Hertzsprung and the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

On October 8, 1873, Danish chemist and astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung was born. Together with Henry Norris Russell, Hertzsprung developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram, a scatter graph of stars showing the relationship between the stars‘ absolute magnitudes or luminosities versus their spectral classifications or effective temperatures, which has become fundamental to the study of stellar evolution. Ejnar Hertzsprung was probably not formally educated, but studied in technological colleges in Denmark and became a chemical engineer.…
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ALMA – the largest and most expensive ground-based astronomical project

ALMA – the largest and most expensive ground-based astronomical project

On October 3, 2011, first images produced by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array were released to the press. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. ALMA is currently the largest and most expensive ground-based astronomical project, costing between US$1.4 and 1.5 billion. ALMA is an interferometer, i.e. ,amy small radio telescopes working together as a single large telescope. The…
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Sir Martin Ryle and Radio Astronomy

Sir Martin Ryle and Radio Astronomy

On September 27, 1918, English radio astronomer and Nobel Laureate Sir Martin Ryle was born. Ryle developed revolutionary radio telescope systems and used them for accurate location and imaging of weak radio sources. He was Astronomer Royal from 1972 to 1982 and shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974 with Antony Hewish, the first Nobel prize awarded in recognition of astronomical research. Martin Ryle was the son of Professor John Alfred Ryle and Miriam…
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The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

On September 14, 2015, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration observed gravitational waves from a 410 megaparsec (1.3 billion light years) distant merger of two black holes. Previously, gravitational waves had only been inferred only indirectly, via their effect on the timing of pulsars in binary star systems. It was also the first observation of a binary black hole merger, demonstrating both the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systens, and the fact that…
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