astronomy

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Solar Spectrum

On March 6, 1787, German optician and physicist Joseph Fraunhofer – later enobled Ritter von Fraunhofer – was born. He is known for the discovery of the dark absorption lines known as Fraunhofer lines in the Sun‘s spectrum, and for making excellent optical glass and achromatic telescope objectives. Moreover, he is the name giver for the German Fraunhofer Society for the advancement of applied research. “In all my experiments I could, owing to…
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Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

Giordano Bruno and the Wonders of the Universe

On February 17, 1600, Dominican friar and philosopher 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. Becoming a Dominican Friar Giordano Bruno was born as Filippo Bruno in Nola,  in the Kingdom of…
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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 – Early…
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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. The Mariner Program 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…
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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 – Early Years Caroline Lucretia Herschel was born in the German town of Hanover on 16 March 1750. She was the eighth child and fourth daughter of Isaac Herschel,…
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The Discovery of the Four Galilean Moons

The Discovery of the Four Galilean Moons

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, Ganimede, Callisto, Io, and Europa although he is not able to distinguish the last two until the following day.[1,2] The Telescope Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey [3] tried to patent in the Netherlands…
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The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johan Lexell

The Celestial Mechanics of Anders Johan Lexell

On December 24, 1740, Finnish-Swedish astronomer, mathematician, and physicist Anders Johan 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. Early Years 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…
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Russian Polymath Mikhail Lomonosov

Russian Polymath Mikhail Lomonosov

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. Family Background…
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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. Triton – A very special Satellite Lassell started a brewery business about 1825, after a seven-year apprenticeship. He became interested in astronomy…
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