astronomy

Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

On November 8, 1656, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist Sir Edmond Halley was born. Of course everybody has heard of Halley’s comet. We too already had an article on that topic [1]. But, Edmond Halley did much more than calculating the orbit of the eponymous comet. He compiled a catalogue of the stars of the Southern hemisphere, he also improved the sextant, and made observations about the ocean and the…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1838, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at home by his mother, Janet Anderson, who…
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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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Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

On July 4, 1868, American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born. She is best known for her discovery of the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Based on her luminosity-period relation for Cepheids, Edwin Hubble was able to determine that the universe is expanding. Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, as daughter among seven children of Congregational church minister George Roswell Leavitt and his wife…
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Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

Jan Hendrik Oort and the Secrets of the Oort Cloud

On April 28, 1900, Dutch physicist and astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort was born. One of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century, Oort made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the sun is at its center; he discovered mysterious invisible ‘dark matter‘ in 1932, as well…
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The Life and Work of Philippe de La Hire

The Life and Work of Philippe de La Hire

On March 18, 1640, French mathematician, astronomer, architect, and key figure in the Académie royale des sciences Philippe de La Hire was born. Philippe de La Hire was educated as an artist and became skilled in drawing and painting early. It is believed that de La Hire received no formal education in an official school even though his father was probably teaching him at home. At the age of 16, Philippe was fully committed…
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Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

Henry Draper and his Passion for Astronomy

On March 7, 1837, American doctor and amateur astronomer Henry Draper was born. He is best known today as a pioneer of astrophotography. After his death, the Henry Draper Catalog of stellar spectra as well the Henry Draper medal is named after him. Henry Draper was the son of John William Draper, a doctor, chemist, and professor at New York University. He was known for his interest in the chemical effects of…
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Samuel Pierpont Langley and his Aviation Work

Samuel Pierpont Langley and his Aviation Work

On February 27, 1906, American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation Samuel Pierpont Langley passed away. Langley attempted to make a working piloted heavier-than-air aircraft. His models flew, but his two attempts at piloted flight were not successful. Samuel Pierpont Langley was born in 1834 in Roxbury. He started his education at the Boston Latin School and was interested in astronomy immediately. His brother helped him to build instruments and…
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The Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory

The Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory

On January 26, 1949, the Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory sees first light under the direction of Edwin Hubble,[4] becoming the largest aperture optical telescope (until BTA-6 is built in 1976). George Ellery Hale George Ellery Hale was a solar astronomer, who was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois [5]. He studied at MIT, Harvard and in Berlin. He is mostly known for his invention of the spectrohelioscope during his time at…
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