astronomy

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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Leonid Kulik and the Mysterious Tunguska Event

Leonid Kulik and the Mysterious Tunguska Event

On August 19, 1883, Russian mineralogist Leonid Alekseyevich Kulik was born. Kulik is noted for his research in meteorites. In 1927, Kulik conducted the first scientific expedition (for which records survive) to study the Tunguska meteor impact site, the largest impact event in recorded history, which had occurred on 30 June 1908.[1] Leonid Kulik was born in Tartu, Estonia, which was later to become part of the Soviet Union, and was educated at the…
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Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

On August 15, 1977, a strong narrowband radio signal was received by the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University, United States, then assigned to a SETI project. Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman discovered the signal a few days later, while reviewing the recorded data and was so impressed that he circled the reading on the computer printout and wrote the comment Wow! on its side. Jerry R. Ehman received a…
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Helen Swayer Hogg and the Globular Clusters

Helen Swayer Hogg and the Globular Clusters

On August 1, 1905, American-Canadian astronomer Helen 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 not award scientific…
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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 a single…
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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 study law.…
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George Ellery Hale –  Large Telescopes and the Spectroheliograph

George Ellery Hale – Large Telescopes and the Spectroheliograph

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 in developing…
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Alan Sandage and the Discovery of the Quasars

Alan Sandage and the Discovery of the 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 discovery 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. The Discovery of Quasars It is believed that the first…
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Johannes Fabricius and the Sunspots

Johannes Fabricius and the Sunspots

Probably on June 13, 1611, Frisian 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 Worcester in 1128. Johannes…
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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). Govaert Wendelen – Early…
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