astronomy

Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn and the Rotation of the Milky Way

Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn and the Rotation of the Milky Way

On June 18, 1922, Dutch astronomer Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn passed away. Kapteyn carried out extensive studies of the Milky Way and was the discoverer of evidence for galactic rotation. He used photography and statistical methods in determining the motions and spatial distribution of stars, the first major step after the works of William and John Herschel. Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn was born on 19 January 1851 in Barneveld,in the Dutch province…
Aryabhata and Indian Mathematics

Aryabhata and Indian Mathematics

In 476 CE, Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata was born. Aryabhata is the earliest Indian mathematician whose work and history are available to modern scholars. In his work “Ganita” Aryabhata names the first 10 decimal places and gives algorithms for obtaining square and cubic roots, using the decimal number system. He also came up with an approximation of pi and the area of a triangle. “Aryabhata is the master who,…
Edward Walter Maunder and the Sunspots

Edward Walter Maunder and the Sunspots

On April 12, 1851, British astronomer Edward Walter Maunder was born. Maunder was the first to take the British Civil Service Commission examination for the post of photographic and spectroscopic assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. He is best remembered for his study of sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle that led to his identification of the period from 1645 to 1715 that is now known as the Maunder Minimum.…
Donald Howard Menzel and the UFOs

Donald Howard Menzel and the UFOs

On April 11, 1901, theoretical astronomer and astrophysicist Donald Howard Menzel was born. Menzel discovered the physical properties of the solar chromosphere, the chemistry of stars, the atmosphere of Mars, and the nature of gaseous nebulae. Moreover, he was best known for his arguments against the existence of extraterrestrial UFO‘s. Donald Howard Menzel already collected rocks as a child and built a chemistry laboratory in the cellar of his family’s…
John Louis Emil Dreyer and the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters

John Louis Emil Dreyer and the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters

On February 13, 1852, Danish-Irish astronomer John Louis Emil Dreyer was born. Dreyer’s major contribution was the monumental New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (based on William Herschels Catalogue of Nebulae), the catalogue numbers of which are still in use today. John Louis Emil Dreyer was the son of Lieutenant General John Christopher Dreyer, back then the Danish Minister for War and the Navy. From early age, Dreyer…
John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

John Couch Adams and the Discovery of Planet Neptune

On January 21, 1821, English mathematician and astronomer John Couch Adams passed away. Adams most famous achievement was predicting the existence and position of Neptune, using only mathematics. The calculations were made to explain discrepancies with Uranus‘s orbit and the laws of Kepler and Newton. At the same time, but unknown to each other, the same calculations were made by Urbain Le Verrier. John Couch Adams was born at Lidcot,…
Project Diana hits the Moon

Project Diana hits the Moon

On January 10, 1946 the U.S. Army Project Diana team detected radar signals reflected off the moon‘s surface. This was the first experiment in radar astronomy and the first active attempt to probe another celestial body. Project Diana was designed in order to bounce radar signals off the Moon and receive the reflected signals, which became the first known attempt to probe another celestial body. Pioneer of the project was …
Edward Emerson Barnard and Celestial Photography

Edward Emerson Barnard and Celestial Photography

On December 16, 1856, American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard was born. Barnard is best known for his discovery of the high proper motion of Barnard’s Star in 1916, which is named in his honor. He also pioneered in celestial photography, specializing in wide-field photography. Edward Barnard became a photographer’s assistant at the age of about nine. Later on, he began develop enthusiasm for astronomy. Around 1876, Barnard purchased a 130mm refractor telescope,…
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. Johann Elert Bode was born…
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…
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