astronomy

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

Hans Lippershey and the Telescope

On October 2, 1608,  German-Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey applied to the States-General of the Netherlands for a patent for his instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”. Telescope History Even though scientists of the middle ages never heard of telescopes and most of them did not know specific laws of optics, they started laying the foundations for telescopes as we know them today. Before the invention of the telescope…
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The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

On September 16, 1835, the New York Sun concedes that her serial article about the sensational discoveries of astronomer Sir John Herschel about the Moon was only a hoax to increase their circulation. In the history of newspaper this scandal is referred to as ‘The Great Moon Hoax of 1835‘. “GREAT ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES LATELY MADE BY SIR JOHN HERSCHEL, L.L.D. F.R.S. &c. At the Cape of Good Hope” [From Supplement to the…
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Galileo Galilei and his Telescope

Galileo Galilei and his Telescope

On August 25, 1609, Galileo Galilei publicly demonstrated his newly built telescope to Venetian lawmakers. Besides its astronomical value Galileo‘s telescope was also a profitable sideline for him selling telescopes to merchants who found them useful both at sea and as items of trade. Galileo published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a brief treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger). Galileo Galilei Education and Early Career Galileo Galilei came from an…
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David Fabricius and the Wonders of the Heavens

David Fabricius and the Wonders of the Heavens

On August 13, 1596, Frisian theologian and astronomer David Fabricius observed the first known periodic variable star, which he called Mira Ceti (The ‘Wonder’ in the stellar constellation ‘Whale’). David Fabricius – Early Years David Fabricius was born in Esens, East Frisia, the son of a blacksmith.  Not much is known about his childhood and youth. He attended the Latin schools in Norden and probably in Braunschweig. He later once remarked that his teacher Heinrich…
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Robert Hooke and his Famous Observations of the Micrographia

Robert Hooke and his Famous Observations of the Micrographia

On July 18, 1635 (according to the old Julian calendar), English natural philosopher, architect and polymath Robert Hooke was born. He is known for his discovery of the laws of elasticity, now known as Hooke’s law. Hooke did research in a remarkable variety of fields. He was one of the first men to build a Gregorian reflecting telescope and to suggest that Jupiter rotates. His studies of microscopic fossils are what led…
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John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

John Dee and his World of Science and Magic

On July 13, 1527, Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee was born. He is considered one of the most learned men of his age. Besides being an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, in his later years he immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. One of his aims was attempting to commune with angels in order to…
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Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

On June 2, 1966, spaceprobe Surveyor 1, the first of NASA‘s unmanned Surveyor program, as the first American spaceprobe achieved a soft landing on the moon about half a year after the first Moon landing by the Soviet Union‘s Luna 9 probe.[5,6,7] Luna 9 and the Cold War Space Race Already on February 3, 1966, the Luna 9 spacecraft had softly landed on the Moon, which also was the first of any…
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Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

Joseph Norman Lockyer – a Pioneer of Modern Astrophysics and Founder of Archaeoastronomy

On May 17, 1836, English astronomer Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer was born. Lockyer is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern astrophysics and founder of archaeoastronomy. Along with the French scientist Pierre Janssen, he is credited with discovering the gas helium. Lockyer also is remembered for being the founder and first editor of the influential journal Nature. “The nineteenth century will ever be known as the one in which the influences of…
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Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

Carl Friedrich Gauss – The Prince of Mathematicians

On April 30, 1777, German mathematician and physical scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss was born. He contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics. He is often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, “the Prince of Mathematicians”) as well as “greatest mathematician since antiquity”. “Mathematics is the Queen of Science, and Arithmetic is the Queen of Mathematics” – handed down in Wolfgang Sartorius…
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Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

Percival Lowell and the Search for Pluto

On March 19, 1915, American astronomer Percival Lowell began to make photographies of the sky in the Lowell Observatory, which was founded by him, to search for a planet beyond Neptune. 15 years later, the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered on these photographies. “Formulae are the anaesthetics of thought, not its stimulants and to make any one think is far better worth while than cramming him with ill-considered, and therefore indigestible, learning.” –…
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