astrophysics

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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Sir Arthur Eddington – The Man who Proved Einstein’s General Relativity

Sir Arthur Eddington – The Man who Proved Einstein’s General Relativity

On November 22, 1944, British astrophysicist and philosopher Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington passed away. He became famous for his 1919 solar eclipse expedition to Principe, where he conducted astrophysical experiments to give proof for Albert Einstein‘s seminal theory of general relativity. “At terrestrial temperatures matter has complex properties which are likely to prove most difficult to unravel; but it is reasonable to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be…
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The Supernova of 1054

The Supernova of 1054

On July 4, 1054, Chinese astronomers observed a new star in the constellation of Taurus, which later turned out to be a supernova. However, even before the Chinese, on 11 April 1054, a monk in Flanders noticed a “bright disc in the afternoon“. This was the first traditional observation of a supernova explosion. China was able to contribute to the developments in the science of astronomy critically. In their philosophy, the harmony between…
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James Jeans and the Theory of Continuous Creation

James Jeans and the Theory of Continuous Creation

On September 11, 1877, English physicist, astronomer and mathematician James Hopwood Jeans was born. Jeans was the first to propose that matter is continuously created throughout the universe. He made other innovations in astronomical theory but is perhaps best known as a writer of popular books about astronomy. “The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.…
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Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

Victor Ambartsumian and Theoretical Astrophysics

On September 5, 1908, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Viktor Amazaspovich Ambartsumian was born. Ambartsumian is well known as one of the founders of theoretical astrophysics. He worked in the field of physics of stars and nebulae, stellar astronomy, dynamics of stellar systems and cosmogony of stars and galaxies, and contributed to mathematical physics. Victor Ambartsumian was the son of the prominent philologist and writer Hamazasp Asaturovich Ambartsumian, the translator of Homer’s Iliad into Armenian.…
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Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Iosif Shklovsky and the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

On July 1, 1916, Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky was born. Shklovsky identified the continuum radiation of the Crab Nebula as synchrotron radiation, and he linked x-ray stars to binary systems containing a neutron star. He is also remembered for his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life, the revised and expanded version of which was co-authored by American astronomer Carl Sagan in 1966 as ‘Intelligent Life in the Universe’. Iosif Shklovsky studied at…
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The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

The first Observation of Gravitational Waves

On September 14, 2015, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration observed gravitational waves from a 410 megaparsec (1.3 billion light years) distant merger of two black holes. Previously, gravitational waves had only been inferred only indirectly, via their effect on the timing of pulsars in binary star systems. It was also the first observation of a binary black hole merger, demonstrating both the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systens, and the fact that…
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Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Jerry R. Ehman, the Wow! Signal and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

On August 15, 1977, a strong narrowband radio signal was received by the Big Ear radio telescope of the Ohio State University, United States, then assigned to a SETI project. Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman discovered the signal a few days later, while reviewing the recorded data and was so impressed that he circled the reading on the computer printout and wrote the comment Wow! on its side. Jerry R. Ehman received a…
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Frank Drake, Project Ozma and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Frank Drake, Project Ozma and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

On May 28, 1930, American astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake was born. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1960 in Project Ozma, developing the Drake equation, and as the creator of the Arecibo Message, a digital encoding of an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and its…
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Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

On May 10, 1900, British–American astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was born. She was the first to apply laws of atomic physics to the study of the temperature and density of stellar bodies, and the first to conclude that hydrogen and helium are the two most common elements in the universe. It was another 20 years before Payne’s original claim was confirmed, by Fred Hoyle. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin earned a scholarship to…
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