astronomy

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. Early Years Johann Elert Bode was born…
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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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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 – Early Years Ejnar Hertzsprung was probably not formally educated, but studied in technological colleges in Denmark…
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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. The ALMA Interferometer ALMA is an interferometer, i.e. many small radio telescopes working together as a single large…
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Michael Servetus and the Pulmonary Circulation

Michael Servetus and the Pulmonary Circulation

Around September 29, 1509 (or 1511), Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and Renaissance humanist Michael Servetus was born. Servetus was a polymath versed in many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, translation, poetry and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. He was probably the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation. “Michael Servetus, alone, but trusting in Christ’s most sure protection.”…
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Sir Martin Ryle’s Breakthrough in Radio Astronomy with Aperture Synthesis

Sir Martin Ryle’s Breakthrough in Radio Astronomy with Aperture Synthesis

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. “I think that the event which, more than anything else, led me…
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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 – Bachground Leonid Kulik was born in Tartu, Estonia, which was later to become part of the Soviet Union, and was…
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Pierre Janssen and the Discovery of Helium

Pierre Janssen and the Discovery of Helium

When watching the total eclipse on August 18, 1868 in Madras, British India, French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered the new chemical element Helium. Janssen also is credited with discovering the gaseous nature of the solar chromosphere. Youth and Education Janssen was born in Paris in 1824. An accident when he was young left him extremely lame and it is for this reason that he was unable to go to school. He studied at…
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Leslie Comrie – a Pioneer in Mechanical Computation

Leslie Comrie – a Pioneer in Mechanical Computation

On August 15, 1893, New Zealand astronomer Leslie John Comrie was born. Comrie was a pioneer in the application of punched-card machinery to astronomical calculations and founded the world’s first private company for scientific computing in 1937. Leslie John Comrie was born in Pukekohe near Auckland, New Zealand. He attended Auckland University College, which is part of the University of New Zealand from 1912 to 1916, graduating with BA and MA degrees with Honours in Chemistry.…
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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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