astronomy

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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Alexander Friedmann and the Expanding Universe

Alexander Friedmann and the Expanding Universe

On June 16, 1888, Russian mathematician and physicist Alexander Friedmann was born. Friedmann is best known for his pioneering theory that the universe was expanding, governed by a set of equations he developed now known as the Friedmann equations. The Youth of a Mathematician Alexander Friedmann was born to the composer and ballet dancer Alexander Friedmann and the pianist Ludmila Ignatievna Voyachek. However the parents divorced when Alexander was nine years old,…
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Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

Anaximander and the Milesian School of Philosophy

At about 610 BC, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus was born. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies, although only one fragment of his work remains. An early proponent of science he tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its…
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Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

Bruno Rossi and the Cosmic Radiation

On April 13, 1905, Italian experimental physicist Bruno Benedetto Rossi was born. Rossi made major contributions to particle physics and the study of cosmic rays. He was one of the first to use rockets to study cosmic rays above the Earth‘s atmosphere. Finding X-rays from space he became the grandfather of high energy astrophysics, being largely responsible for starting X-ray astronomy, as well as the study of interplanetary plasma. “In any case,…
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Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

On April 8, 1461, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach passed away. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum, a task being finally completed by famous astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, better known as Regiomontanus.[5] Georg Peurbach’s father was Ulrich Aunpekh. The name Peurbach is just derived from the town in which they lived, about 40 km west of Linz, Austria. His…
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John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

On March 7, 1792, English polymath, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor, and experimental photographer Sir John Herschel was born. Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy and named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays. Overall, he advocated an inductive approach to scientific experiment and theory building,…
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SN 1987A – Supernova

SN 1987A – Supernova

On February 24, 1987, SN 1987A, a supernova in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud occured visible to the naked eye. It was the closest observed supernova since Kepler’s Supernova  SN 1604, which occurred in the Milky Way itself. Due to the relative proximity to Earth, SN 1987A became one of the best studied supernovae of all time. After its discovery was announced, nearly every telescope in…
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The James Lick Telescope

The James Lick Telescope

On January 3, 1888, the James Lick Telescope saw first light at the Lick observatory, San Jose, USA. The Lick telescope is a refracting telescope with a lens 91 cm in diameter – a major achievement in its day and in its time the largest telescope in the world until 1897. The instrument remains in operation and public viewing is allowed on a limited basis. A lot of astronomical discoveries have been made…
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Johann Daniel Titius and the Titius-Bode Law

Johann Daniel Titius and the Titius-Bode Law

On January 2, 1729, German astronomer Johann Daniel Titius was born. He is best known for formulating the Titius–Bode 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. The hypothesis correctly anticipated the orbits of Ceres and Uranus,…
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Maarten Schmidt and the Phenomenon of Quasars

Maarten Schmidt and the Phenomenon of Quasars

On December 28, 1929, Dutch astronomer Maarten Schmidt was born. Schmidt is best known for measuring the distances of quasars. Quasars or quasi-stellar radio sources are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN). Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that appeared to be similar to stars, rather…
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