Galileo Galilei

Giambattista della Porta – Natural Magic and the Academy of Secrets

Giambattista della Porta – Natural Magic and the Academy of Secrets

On February 4, 1615, Italian scholar, polymath and playwright Giambattista della Porta passed away. Besides occult philosophy, astrology, alchemy, mathematics, meteorology, and natural philosophy, della Porta worked on cryptography and also on optics. He claimed to be the inventor of the telescope although he does not appear to have constructed one before Galileo [4]. “Having observed the forces of all things natural and celestial and having examined by painstaking investigation the sympathy among…
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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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Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

Asaph Hall and the Discovery of Phobos and Deimos

On October 15, 1829, American astronomer Asaph Hall III was born, who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos, in 1877. He determined the orbits of satellites of other planets and of double stars, the rotation of Saturn, and the mass of Mars. “The deepest truths require still deeper truths to explain them.” – Asaph Hall Asaph Hall – Early Years Asaph Hall was born in…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Development of the Pocket Watch

Christiaan Huygens and the Development of the Pocket Watch

On October 4, 1675, prominent Dutch mathematician, physicist, astronomer and inventor Christiaan Huygens patented a pocket watch. Huygens was a leading scientist of his time, who established the wave theory of light and made outstanding astronomical discoveries. He also patented the first pendulum clock in 1656, which he has developed to meet his need for exact time measurement while observing the heavens. “…the power of this line [the cycloid] to measure time.”  –…
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Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and the Science of Biomechanics

On January 28, 1608, Renaissance Italian physiologist, physicist, and mathematician Giovanni Alfonso Borelli was born. Trained in mathematics, Borelli also made extensive studies of Jupiter’s moons, the mechanics of animal locomotion and, in microscopy, of the constituents of blood. He also used microscopy to investigate the stomatal movement of plants, and undertook studies in medicine and geology. “No sensible person will deny that the works of Nature are in the highest degree…
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Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

Simon Marius and his Astronomical Discoveries

On January 20 (or January 10 according to the old Julian calendar), 1573, German astronomer Simon Marius was born. Marius was pupil of Tycho Brahe, one of the earliest users of the telescope and the first in print to make mention the Andromeda nebula. He studied and named the four largest moons of Jupiter that he claimed to have them discovered independently and even before Galileo. Simon Marius’ Early Years Simon Marius was…
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Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc and the Discovery of the Orion Nebula

Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc and the Discovery of the Orion Nebula

Around November 25, 1610, French astronomer and savant Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc “discovered” the Orion Nebula, a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. “But see, Orion sheds unwholesome dews; Arise, the pines a noxious shade diffuse; Sharp Boreas blows, and nature feels decay, Time conquers all, and we must…
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Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

Evangelista Torricelli and the Barometer

On October 15, 1608, Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli was born, best known for his invention of the barometer, but is also known for his advances in Optics. Evangelista Torricelli Background Evangelista Torricelli was born in Rome, the firstborn child of Gaspare Ruberti, a poor textile worker, and Giacoma Torricelli. His family was from Faenza in the Province of Ravenna, then part of the Papal States. His parents sent Evangelista to…
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Voyager and the Exploration of Saturn

Voyager and the Exploration of Saturn

On August 25, 1981, American space probe Voyager 2 passed Saturn and transmitted stunning pictures of the ring planet. The space probe had been launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually to push forward into interstellar space. Until today, operating for more than 30 years the spacecraft still receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network, a world-wide network of large…
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Regiomontanus – Forerunner of Modern Astronomy

Regiomontanus – Forerunner of Modern Astronomy

On June 6, 1436, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic bishop Johannes Müller aus Königsberg was born, better known under the Latinized version of his name as Regiomontanus. His diligent and accurate observations, measurements and recordings paved the way for modern astronomers such as Tycho Brahe [4] and Nikolaus Copernicus.[5] Johannes Müller from Königsberg Johannes Müller from Königsberg, a small town in Lower Franconia, Germany, grew up in a well situated…
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