solar system

Maria Mitchell and “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”

Maria Mitchell and “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”

On August 1, 1814, American astronomer Maria Mitchell was born who, in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet“. „We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry.” – Maria Mitchell Maria Mitchell – Youth and Education Maria Mitchell was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA, among nine brothers and sisters…
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The Discovery of Charon, Pluto’s largest Moon

The Discovery of Charon, Pluto’s largest Moon

On June 22, 1978, US astronomer James Christie discovered Charon, the largest moon of Pluto. Although there was a discussion after the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf, Charon is not in the list of dwarf planets currently recognized by the IAU. A Bulge on Pluto On June 22, 1978,  James Christy had examined the magnified images of the former planet Pluto, taken with the 61-inch Flagstaff telescope two months prior. He noticed a…
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Johann Gottfried Galle and the First Observation of Planet Neptune

Johann Gottfried Galle and the First Observation of Planet Neptune

On June 9, 1812, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was born. Galle actually was the first person to view the planet Neptune and know what he was looking at, by making use of the calculations of his fellow astronomer Urbain Le Verrier. Background Johann Gottfried Galle Johann Gottfried Galle studied at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin between 1839 and 1833 and started to work at the new Berlin Observatory two years later. There, he worked…
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Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

On May 15, 1836, English astronomer Francis Baily for the first time observed the so-called ‘Baily’s beads‘ during an eclipse of the Sun. For sure you know the effect, although you might not have seen it with your own eyes in nature. But, numerous photographs, pictures, and videos have been published, where the phenomenon can be watched. So what are Beailey’s beads? Solar Eclipse and Baily Beads The Baily’s beads effect is a feature of…
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David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

On April 8, 1732, American astronomer David Rittenhouse was born. He was an early observer of the atmosphere of Venus. For observations for the transit of Venus on 3 June 1769, he constructed a high precision pendulum clock, an astronomical quadrant, an equal altitude instrument, and an astronomical transit. Besides being an astronomer, he was also inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official as first director of the United States Mint.…
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Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

About 310 BC, ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus of Samos was born. He presented the first known model that placed the Sun at the center of the known universe with the Earth revolving around it. As Anaxagoras before him, he also suspected that the stars were just other bodies like the Sun. His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy. “The earth is…
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Johannes Hevelius and his Selenographia

Johannes Hevelius and his Selenographia

On January 28, 1611, German astronomer Johannes Hevelius was born. From four years’ telescopic study of the Moon, using telescopes of long focal power, Hevelius compiled Selenographia (“Pictures of the Moon“, 1647), an atlas of the Moon with some of the earliest detailed maps. Family Background and Early Years Johannes Hevelius‘ father was a succesful merchant and pushed Johannes to follow his footsteps rather than pursue a scientific career. Hevelius was sent to Poland…
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Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

On November 9, 1934, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, and successful author Carl Sagan was born. Carl Sagan is known for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. “In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that…
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Galileo and the Exploration of the Jovian  System

Galileo and the Exploration of the Jovian System

On October 18, 1989, the unmanned NASA spacecraft Galileo was launched on her mission to study the planet Jupiter and its moons. Named after the astronomer Galileo Galilei, it consisted of an orbiter and entry probe, which descended into Jupiter‘s atmosphere. The Galilean Moons It was Galileo Galilei,[4] who connected us to the skies in 1609, when he demonstrated the improved instrument “for seeing things far away as if they were nearby”…
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Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

Surveyor 1 Landing on the Moon and the Cold War Space Race

On June 2, 1966, spaceprobe Surveyor 1, the first of NASA‘s unmanned Surveyor program, as the first American spaceprobe achieved a soft landing on the moon about half a year after the first Moon landing by the Soviet Union‘s Luna 9 probe.[5,6,7] Luna 9 and the Cold War Space Race Already on February 3, 1966, the Luna 9 spacecraft had softly landed on the Moon, which also was the first of any…
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