solar system

Giuseppe Piazzi and the Discovery of Dwarf Planet Ceres

Giuseppe Piazzi and the Discovery of Dwarf Planet Ceres

On January 1, 1801, Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered Ceres, today known as the largest member of the asteroid belt. We already had several articles on almost all the planets of the Solar System, including the dwarf planets. [14] As you might know, our Solar System does not only comprise the Sun and the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Besides…
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Sir Edmond Halley and his famous Comet

Sir Edmond Halley and his famous Comet

On November 8, 1656, Sir Edmond Halley was born. The astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist, was best known for computing the orbit of the eponymous Halley’s Comet.[9] “Wherefore, if, according to what we have already said, it should return again about the year 1758, candid posterity will not refuse to acknowledge that this was first discovered by an Englishman.” – Edmond Halley, as quoted in An Essay towards a History of…
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To be or Not to be a Planet – Eris, the planet of Discord

To be or Not to be a Planet – Eris, the planet of Discord

On October 21, 2003, a photograph of the nocturnal sky was taken, where almost 2 years later, in January 2005, evidence was raised that there might be a 10th planet at the borders of our solar system: Eris, located in the Kuiper Belt and named after the Greek goddess of discord. And discord it should be, because Eris as a planet is rather small and astronomers were arguing, whether it is a…
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James van Allen and the Weather in Space

James van Allen and the Weather in Space

On September 7, 1914, astrophysicist and space pioneer Dr. James Van Allen was born. The Van Allen radiation belts were named after him, following the 1958 satellite missions (Explorer 1 and Explorer 3) in which Van Allen had argued that a Geiger counter should be used to detect charged particles. “Apparently, something happens on the sun. It sends out a burst of gases. The reservoirs above our earth shake like a bowl…
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The First Image from Abroad – Earth Rising and Lunar Orbiter 1

The First Image from Abroad – Earth Rising and Lunar Orbiter 1

On August 23, 1966, the space probe Lunar Orbiter 1 sent the very first images of the earth rising above the moon‘s surface back to earth. Lunar Orbiter 1 was part of the Lunar Orbiter program started in the 1960’s in preparation to the Apollo moon landing. The project consisted of five unmanned spacecrafts, equally built to take pictures of the moon. The purpose was to find a safe landing place for…
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The End of a Comet – Shoemaker-Levy 9 hits Jupiter

The End of a Comet – Shoemaker-Levy 9 hits Jupiter

On July 22, 1994, the last parts of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the largest planet within our solar system, Jupiter. This was the first time, that an extraterrestrial collision of two objects could be directly observed. Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 approaching Jupiter Shoemaker-Levy 9 got its name from the US-American scientists Eugene Shoemaker, his wive Carolyn, and David Levy, it was the 9th periodic comet to…
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To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before – Voyager 2

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before – Voyager 2

On July 9, 1979 the interplanetary spacecraft Voyager 2 passed Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System. 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 antennas…
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Neptune, Oceanos, or ‘Le Verrier’ – How to name a new planet?

Neptune, Oceanos, or ‘Le Verrier’ – How to name a new planet?

On June 9, 1812, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was born. Also in Germany hardly anybody might know Galle today. Well, maybe except most astronomers, who will certainly know him, because he has discovered the planet Neptune. No, he didn’t do it all by himself. Actually, we’ve had already several articles on astronomers involved in the discovery of Neptune [5,6,7] Johann Gottfried Galle – Early Life Galle was born in the Pabsthaus not…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

On March 25, 1655, Saturn‘s largest moon Titan was discovered by astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens. Titan is considered as the most Earth-like moon discovered so far and the second largest in the solar system. Christian Huygens’ Background Christiaan Huygens was born into an influential family and provided with a decent education all his life, leaning several foreign languages mathematics, logic, and rethoric. His father was friends with Galileo Galilei and René…
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Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

On February 5, 1974, space probe Mariner 10 passed by at planet Venus shooting 4,165 high resolution pictures and continued its journey to Mercury, using the slingshot maneuver. The Mariner Program Mariner 10 was the last of NASA‘s Mariner program and executed to measure the environment of Mercury as well as its surface and its atmosphere. The spacecraft was the second of all time to perform the gravitational slingshot maneuver, using Venus to…
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