astronomy

Scientist and Politician François Arago

Scientist and Politician François Arago

On February 26, 1786, French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer François Arago was born. Arago discovered the chromosphere of the sun, and made accurate estimates of the diameters of the planets. Arago entered politics in 1848 as Minister of War and Marine and was responsible for abolishing slavery in the French colonies. Dominique-françois-jean Arago was born in Estagel, Roussillon. His father was the small town’s mayor and his family was involved…
SN 1987A – Supernova

SN 1987A – Supernova

On February 24, 1987, SN 1987A, a supernova in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud occured visible to the naked eye. It was the closest observed supernova since Kepler’s Supernova  SN 1604, which occurred in the Milky Way itself. Due to the relative proximity to Earth, SN 1987A became one of the best studied supernovae of all time. After its discovery was announced, nearly every…
The James Lick Telescope

The James Lick Telescope

On January 3, 1888, the James Lick Telescope saw first light at the Lick observatory, San Jose, USA. The Lick telescope is a refracting telescope with a lens 91 cm in diameter – a major achievement in its day and in its time the largest telescope in the world until 1897. The instrument remains in operation and public viewing is allowed on a limited basis. A lot of astronomical discoveries have…
Johann Daniel Titius and the Titius-Bode Law

Johann Daniel Titius and the Titius-Bode Law

On January 2, 1929, German astronomer Johann Daniel Titius was born. He is best known for formulating the Titius–Bode 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. The hypothesis correctly anticipated the orbits of…
Maarten Schmidt and the Quasars

Maarten Schmidt and the Quasars

On December 28, 1929, Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt was born. Schmidt is best known for measuring the distances of quasars. Quasars or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to…
Grote Reber and Radio Astronomy

Grote Reber and Radio Astronomy

On December 22, 1911, American pioneer of radio astronomy Grote Reber was born. He combined his interests in amateur radio and amateur astronomy and became instrumental in investigating and extending Karl Jansky’s pioneering work, who in August 1931 first discovered radio waves emanating from the Milky Way. Reber conducted the first sky survey in the radio frequencies and is considered one of the founding figures of radio astronomy. Grote Reber graduated from Armour…
Milutin Milanković and the Cause of the Ice Ages

Milutin Milanković and the Cause of the Ice Ages

On December 12, 1958, Serbian mathematician, astronomer, climatologist, geophysicist, civil engineer, doctor of technology, university professor and popularizer of science Milutin Milanković passed away. Milankovic revolutionized the understanding of climate dynamics. He put the astronomical theory of climate on a firm mathematical basis and founded cosmic climatology by calculating the temperature conditions on planets of the inner and outer solar system. Moreover, he calculated the impact of Earth’s secular orbital…
Astronomer Gerard Kuiper

Astronomer Gerard Kuiper

On December 7, 1905, Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Peter Kuiper was born. Considered by many to be the father of modern planetary science, Kuiper is the eponymous namesake of the Kuiper belt, a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. Kuiper also discovered Miranda, a moon of Uranus, and Nereid, a moon of Neptune. Gerard…
James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1838, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at home by his mother,…
Harlow Shapley and the Milky Way

Harlow Shapley and the Milky Way

On November 2, 1885, American astronomer Harlow Shapley was born. Shapley is best know for having correctly estimated the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and the sun’s position within it. Harlow Shapley was born in Nashville, Missouri and dropped out of school after fifth grade. However, later on he managed to return to school and complete a six-year high school program in only two years. At the age of…
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