An astronomer is a person who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars, and galaxies.
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Richard Christopher Carrington (26 May 1826 – 27 November 1875) was an English amateur astronomer whose 1859 astronomical observations demonstrated the existence of solar flares as well as suggesting their electrical influence upon the Earth and its aurorae; and whose 1863 records of sunspot observations revealed the differential rotation of the Sun.
Even though he did not discover the 11-year sunspot activity cycle, his observations of sunspot activity after he heard about Heinrich Schwabe's work led to the numbering of the cycles with Carrington's name. For example, the sunspot maximum of 2002 was Carrington Cycle #23.
Carrington also determined the elements of the rotation axis of the Sun, based on sunspot motions, and his results remain in use today. Carrington rotation is a system for measuring solar longitude based on his observations of the low-latitude solar rotation rate.
Carrington made the initial observations leading to the establishment of Spörer's law.
He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in 1859.
Carrington also won the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences in 1864, for his "Observations of Spots on the Sun from 9 November 1853 to
Giuseppe Piazzi (July 16, 1746 – July 22, 1826) was an Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer. He was born in Ponte in Valtellina, and died in Naples. He established an observatory at Palermo, now the Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo – Giuseppe S. Vaiana.
Perhaps his most famous discovery was of the dwarf planet Ceres.
No documented account of Piazzi's scientific education is available in any of the biographies of the astronomer, even in the oldest ones. Piazzi certainly did some studies in Turin, quite likely attending Giovan Battista Beccaria's lessons. In the years 1768-1770 he was resident at the Theatines' Home in S. Andrea della Valle, Rome, while studying Mathematics under Francesco Jacquier.
In July 1770, he took the chair of Mathematics at the University of Malta. In December 1773, he moved to Ravenna as "prefetto degli studenti" and lecturer in Philosophy and Mathematics at the Collegio dei Nobili, where he stayed until the beginning of 1779. After a short period spent in Cremona and in Rome, in March 1781 Piazzi moved to Palermo as lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Palermo (at the time known as "Accademia de' Regj
Édouard Benjamin Baillaud (14 February 1848 – 8 July 1934) (86) was a French astronomer.
Born in Chalon-sur-Saône, Baillaud studied at the École Normale Supérieure (1866-1869) and the University of Paris. He worked as an assistant at the Paris Observatory beginning in 1872. Later he was director of the Toulouse Observatory from 1878 to 1907, during much of this time serving as Dean of the University of Toulouse Faculty of Science.
He greatly expanded the observatory and enthusiastically supported the Carte du Ciel project. He specialized in celestial mechanics, in particular the motions of the satellites of Saturn.
In 1903, the observatory took over a facility on the Pic du Midi in the Pyrenees that had been founded by amateurs in the 1850s with the goal of putting a telescope there. However, the height of 2865 metres (9400 feet) posed formidable logistical challenges and the ambition had remained unrealised though a meteorological observatory had operated from 1873 to 1880. Baillaud organised a team of soldiers to erect a 0.5 metre (20 inch) reflecting telescope, and 0.25 metre refracting telescope on the summit.
In 1907, he became director of the Paris Observatory where he
Willem de Sitter (6 May 1872 – 20 November 1934) was a Dutch mathematician, physicist and astronomer.
Born in Sneek, De Sitter studied mathematics at the University of Groningen and then joined the Groningen astronomical laboratory. He worked at the Cape Observatory in South Africa (1897–1899). Then, in 1908, de Sitter was appointed to the chair of astronomy at Leiden University. He was director of the Leiden Observatory from 1919 until his death.
De Sitter made major contributions to the field of physical cosmology. He co-authored a paper with Albert Einstein in 1932 in which they argued that there might be large amounts of matter which do not emit light, now commonly referred to as dark matter. He also came up with the concept of the de Sitter space and de Sitter universe, a solution for Einstein's general relativity in which there is no matter and a positive cosmological constant. This results in an exponentially expanding, empty universe. De Sitter was also famous for his research on the planet Jupiter.
Willem de Sitter died after a brief illness in November 1934.
His son, Aernout de Sitter (1905 – 15 September 1944), was director of the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang,
Bernhard Woldemar Schmidt (March 30, 1879 – December 1, 1935) was a German optician. In 1930 he invented the Schmidt telescope which corrected for the optical errors of spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism, making possible for the first time the construction of very large, wide-angled reflective cameras of short exposure time for astronomical research.
Schmidt was the son of Carl Constantin and Marie Helene Christine (née Rosen) Schmidt. He grew up on the island of Nargen (now belonging to Viimsi Parish), off the coast of Reval (Tallinn), Estonia, then part of the Russian Empire. The inhabitants of this island, mainly Estonian Swedes, generally spoke Swedish or Estonian, but the Schmidt family also spoke German. Bernhard was the oldest of six children, three boys (one of whom died in infancy) and three girls.
Nargen was a small, rural island whose population mainly supported themselves through fishing and piloting ships into the port of Reval. With his younger brother August Fredrik, Bernhard Schmidt engaged in many childhood adventures on the island. He was an extremely inquisitive, inventive, and imaginative young person and adult. For example, when young he built his own
Tom Gehrels (February 21, 1925 – July 11, 2011) was an American astronomer, Professor of Planetary Sciences, and Astronomer at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Gehrels, who was born at Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands, pioneered the first photometric system of asteroids in the 1950s, and wavelength dependence of polarization of stars and planets in the 1960s, each resulting in an extended sequence of papers in the Astronomical Journal.
He discovered, jointly with the husband and wife team of Cornelis Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld, over 4000 asteroids, including Apollo asteroids, Amor asteroids, as well as dozens of Trojan asteroids. That was done in a sky survey using the 48-inch Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory and shipping the plates to the two Dutch astronomers at Leiden Observatory, who analyzed them for new asteroids. The trio are jointly credited with several thousand discoveries. Gehrels also discovered a number of comets.
He was Principal Investigator for the Imaging Photopolarimeter experiment on the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 first flybys of Jupiter and Saturn in the 1970s.
Gehrels initiated the Space Science Series of textbooks, which are
William Frederick Denning (25 November 1848 – 9 June 1931) was a British astronomer who achieved considerable success without formal scientific training.
Denning devoted a great deal of time to searching for comets, and discovered several including the periodic comet 72P/Denning-Fujikawa and the lost comet D/1894 F1. The latter was the last comet discovered on British soil until the discoveries of George Alcock.
Denning also studied meteors and novas, discovering Nova Cygni 1920 (V476 Cyg). He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1898.
Craters on Mars and the Moon are named in his honor.
Aristarchus (Ἀρίσταρχος, Aristarkhos, 310 BCE – ca. 230 BCE) of Samos was an ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician who presented the first known model that placed the Sun at the center of the known universe with the Earth revolving around it (see Solar system). He was influenced by Philolaus of Croton, but he identified the "central fire" with the Sun, and put the other planets in their correct order of distance around the Sun. His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy.
Though the original text has been lost, a reference in Archimedes' book The Sand Reckoner (Archimedis Syracusani Arenarius & Dimensio Circuli) describes another work by Aristarchus in which he advanced the heliocentric model as an alternative hypothesis. Archimedes wrote:
Aristarchus thus believed the stars to be very far away, and that in consequence there was no observable parallax, that is, a movement of the stars relative to each other as the Earth moves around the Sun. The stars are much farther away than was generally assumed in ancient times; and since stellar parallax is only detectable with telescopes, his speculation although accurate was
Johan Oskar Backlund (April 28, 1846 – August 29, 1916) was a Swedish-Russian astronomer. His name is sometimes given as Jöns Oskar Backlund, however even contemporary Swedish sources give "Johan". In Russia, where he spent his entire career, he is known as Oskar Andreevich Baklund (Оскар Андреевич Баклунд). Russian sources sometimes give his dates of birth and death as April 16, 1846 and August 16, 1916, since Russia still used the Julian calendar at the time.
He was born in Länghem, in Västergötland, Sweden and graduated from Uppsala University in 1872. After getting his doctorate in 1875, he emigrated to Russia in 1876. He worked at Dorpat Observatory, in today's Tartu, Estonia, and then in 1879 worked at Pulkovo Observatory, becoming director of the observatory from 1895 until his death.
He specialized in celestial mechanics, and notably worked on calculating the orbit of Comet Encke, taking into account the perturbations of various planets. He used observations of Comet Encke to try estimate the mass of Mercury. Russian sources sometimes referred to the comet as Comet Encke-Backlund. He also carried out geodesic studies in Spitsbergen from 1898 to 1900. He became a member of
Geminiano Montanari (June 1, 1633 – October 13, 1687) was an Italian astronomer, lens-maker, and proponent of the experimental approach to science.
He is best known for his observation, made around 1667, that the second brightest star (called Algol in Arabic) in the constellation of Perseus varied in brightness. It is likely that others had observed this effect before, but Montanari was the first named astronomer to record it. The star's names in Arabic, Hebrew and other languages, all of which have a meaning of "ghoul" or "demon", imply that its unusual behaviour had long been recognised.
Montanari was born in Modena, studied law in Florence, and graduated from the University of Salzburg. In 1662 or 1663 he moved to Bologna, where he drew an accurate map of the Moon using an ocular micrometer of his own making. He also made observations on capillarity and other problems in statics, and suggested that the viscosity of a liquid depended on the shape of its molecules. In 1669 he succeeded Giovanni Cassini as astronomy teacher at the observatory of Panzano, near Modena, where one of his duties was to compile an astrological almanac. He did so in 1665, but perpetrated a deliberate hoax
Walter Sydney Adams (December 20, 1876 – May 11, 1956) was an American astronomer.
He was born in Antioch, Turkey to Lucien Harper Adams and Nancy Dorrance Francis Adams, missionary parents, and was brought to the U.S. in 1885 He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1898, then continued his education in Germany. After returning to the U.S., he began a career in Astronomy that culminated when he became director of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
His primary interest was the study of stellar spectra. He worked on solar spectroscopy and co-discovered a relationship between the relative intensities of certain spectral lines and the absolute magnitude of a star. He was able to demonstrate that spectra could be used to determine whether a star was a giant or a dwarf. In 1915 he began a study of the companion of Sirius and found that despite a size only slightly larger than the Earth, the surface of the star was brighter per unit area than the Sun and it was about as massive. Such a star later came to be known as a white dwarf. Along with Theodore Dunham, he discovered the strong presence of carbon dioxide in the infrared spectrum of Venus.
Adams died at the age of 79 in Pasadena,
Clyde William Tombaugh (February 4, 1906 – January 17, 1997) was an American astronomer. Although he is best known for discovering the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930, the first object to be discovered in what would later be identified as the Kuiper belt, Tombaugh also discovered many asteroids; he also called for serious scientific research of unidentified flying objects.
Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois. After his family moved to Burdett, Kansas, Tombaugh's plans for attending college were frustrated when a hailstorm ruined his family's farm crops. Starting in 1926, he built several telescopes with lenses and mirrors he ground himself. He sent drawings of Jupiter and Mars, as well as his telescopes to the Lowell Observatory. These resulted in a job offer. Tombaugh was employed at the Lowell Observatory from 1929 to 1945.
Following his discovery of Pluto, Tombaugh earned bachelor's and master's degrees in astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1936 and 1938. During World War II he taught naval personnel navigation at Northern Arizona University. He worked at White Sands Missile Range in the early 1950s, and taught astronomy at New Mexico State University from 1955 until his
Dr. John Alfred Brashear (November 24, 1840 – April 8, 1920) was an American astronomer and instrument builder.
Brashear was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a town 35 miles (56 km) south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River. His father, Basil Brown Brashear, was a saddler, and his mother, Julia Smith Brashear, was a school teacher. He was the oldest of seven children. As a boy, John Brashear was heavily influenced by his maternal grandfather, Nathanial Smith, a clock repairer. When he was nine, his grandfather took him to view through the telescope of 'Squire' Joseph P. Wampler, who set up his traveling telescope in Brownsville. That influential view of the moon and the planet Saturn stayed with Brashear for the rest of his life. After receiving a common school education until age 15, he became an apprentice to a machinist and had mastered his trade at age 20.
Beginning in 1861 Brashear worked as a millwright in a rolling steel mill in Pittsburgh. He pursued his love for astronomy at night, with the help of his wife Phoebe Stewart, a Sunday school teacher whom Brashear met in 1861 and married in 1862. Of too little means to purchase a telescope, Brashear built his own
Eudoxus of Cnidus (410 or 408 BC – 355 or 347 BC) was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. Since all his own works are lost, knowledge of him is obtained from secondary sources, such as Aratus's poem on astronomy. Theodosius of Bithynia's important work, Sphaerics, may be based on a work of Eudoxus.
His name Eudoxus means "honored" or "of good repute" (in Greek Εὔδοξος, from eu "good" and doxa "opinion, belief, fame"). It is analogous to the Latin name Benedictus.
Eudoxus's father Aeschines of Cnidus loved to watch stars at night. Eudoxus first travelled to Tarentum to study with Archytas, from whom he learned mathematics. While in Italy, Eudoxus visited Sicily, where he studied medicine with Philiston.
Around 387 BC, at the age of 23, he traveled with the physician Theomedon, who according to Diogenes Laërtius some believed was his lover, to Athens to study with the followers of Socrates. He eventually became the pupil of Plato, with whom he studied for several months, but due to a disagreement they had a falling out. Eudoxus was quite poor and could only afford an apartment at the Piraeus. To attend Plato's lectures, he walked the seven miles (11 km)
Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn, (January 19, 1851, Barneveld, Gelderland – June 18, 1922) was a Dutch astronomer, best known for his extensive studies of the Milky Way and as the first discoverer of evidence for galactic rotation.
Kapteyn was born in Barneveld to Gerrit J. and Elisabeth C. (née Koomans) Kapteyn, and went to the University of Utrecht to study mathematics and physics in 1868. In 1875, after having finished his thesis, he worked for three years at the Leiden Observatory, before becoming the first Professor of Astronomy and Theoretical Mechanics at the University of Groningen, where he remained until his retirement in 1921.
Between 1896 and 1900, lacking an observatory, he volunteered to measure photographic plates taken by David Gill, who was conducting a photographic survey of southern hemisphere stars at the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope. The results of this collaboration was the publication of Cape Photographic Durchmusterung, a catalog listing positions and magnitudes for 454,875 stars in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 1897, as part of the above work, he discovered Kapteyn's Star. It had the highest proper motion of any star known until the discovery of
Henri Alexandre Deslandres ForMemRS (July 24, 1853 – January 15, 1948) was a French astronomer, director of the Meudon and Paris Observatories.
Deslandres' undergraduate years at the École Polytechnique were played out against the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the chaos of the Paris Commune so, on graduation in 1874, he responded to the continuing military tension with the emerging Germany by embarking on a military career. Rising to the rank of captain in the engineers, he became increasingly interested in physics and, in 1881, resigned his commission to join Alfred Cornu's laboratory at the École Polytechnique, working on spectroscopy. He continued his spectroscopic work at the Sorbonne, earning his doctorate in 1888 and finding numerical patterns in spectral lines that paralleled the work of Johann Balmer and were to catalyse the development of quantum mechanics in the 20th century.
In 1868, Pierre Janssen's solar observations had led him to report to the Académie des Sciences that It is no longer geometry and mechanics which dominate [in astronomy] but physics and chemistry. Such advice was sternly rejected by director of the Paris Observatory Urbain Le Verrier and
Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (French: [mopɛʁtɥi]; 17 July 1698 – 27 July 1759) was a French mathematician, philosopher and man of letters. He became the Director of the Académie des Sciences, and the first President of the Prussian Academy of Science, at the invitation of Frederick the Great.
Maupertuis made an expedition to Lapland to determine the shape of the earth. He is often credited with having invented the principle of least action; a version is known as Maupertuis' principle – an integral equation that determines the path followed by a physical system. His work in natural history has its interesting points, since he touched on aspects of heredity and the struggle for life.
Maupertuis was born at Saint-Malo, France, to a moderately wealthy family of merchant-corsairs. He was educated in mathematics by a private tutor, and upon completing his formal education his father secured him a largely honorific cavalry commission. After three years in the cavalry, during which time he became acquainted with fashionable social and mathematical circles, he moved to Paris and began building his reputation as a mathematician and literary wit. In 1723 he was admitted to the Académie
Jiāo Bǐngzhēn (simplified Chinese: 焦秉贞; traditional Chinese: 焦秉貞; pinyin: Jiāo Bǐngzhēn; Wade–Giles: Chiao Ping-chen), 1689–1726) was a native of Jining, Shandong who became a noted painter and astronomer. In painting he is noteworthy as one of the first Qing dynasty painters to be influenced by the West. He is also was among the more significant portrait and miniature painters in the early Qing. He was skilled in painting people, landscapes, and buildings.
The Western influence in his art came from his exposure to the Jesuits at the Directorate of Astronomy. Their influence also exposed him to new ideas on astronomy and religion. At some point Jiao became a Roman Catholic and played a role on the Jesuit side of the Chinese Rites controversy.
George Gamow (Russian pronunciation: [ˈɡaməf]; March 4 [O.S. February 20] 1904 – August 19, 1968), born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov (Russian: Георгий Антонович Гамов), was a theoretical physicist and cosmologist — notably an early advocate and developer of Lemaître's Big Bang theory. He discovered a theoretical explanation of alpha decay via quantum tunneling, and worked on radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus, star formation, stellar nucleosynthesis and Big Bang nucleosynthesis (which he collectively called nucleocosmogenesis), and molecular genetics.
In his middle and late career, Gamow focussed more on teaching, and became well known as an author of popular books on science, including One Two Three ... Infinity, and the Mr. Tompkins ... series of books (1939–1967). Some of his books are still in print more than a half-century after their original publication, and have become classic but still-relevant introductions to fundamental principles of mathematics and science.
Gamow was born in the city of Odessa, Russian Empire (now in Ukraine) to mixed Russian-Ukrainian parents. His father taught Russian language and literature in high school, and his mother taught geography and
Simon Newcomb (March 12, 1835 – July 11, 1909) was a Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician. Though he had little conventional schooling, he made important contributions to timekeeping as well as writing on economics and statistics and authoring a science fiction novel.
Simon Newcomb was born in the town of Wallace, Nova Scotia. His parents were Emily Prince, the daughter of a New Brunswick magistrate, and itinerant school teacher John Burton Newcomb. John moved around teaching in different parts of Canada, particularly in different villages in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Newcomb seems to have had little conventional schooling other than from his father and from a short apprenticeship to Dr. Foshay, a charlatan herbalist, in New Brunswick in 1851. Nevertheless, his father provided him with an excellent foundation for his future studies. Newcomb's apprenticeship with Dr. Foshay occurred when he was only 16. They entered an agreement that Newcomb would serve a five-year apprenticeship during which time Foshay would train him in using herbs to treat illnesses. For two years he was an apprentice but became increasingly unhappy and disillusioned with his apprenticeship
Svante August Arrhenius (19 February 1859 – 2 October 1927) was a Swedish scientist, originally a physicist, but often referred to as a chemist, and one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. The Arrhenius equation, lunar crater Arrhenius and the Arrhenius Labs at Stockholm University are named after him.
Arrhenius was born on February 19, 1859 at Vik (also spelled Wik or Wijk), near Uppsala, Sweden, the son of Svante Gustav and Carolina Thunberg Arrhenius. His father had been a land surveyor for Uppsala University, moving up to a supervisory position. At the age of three, Arrhenius taught himself to read without the encouragement of his parents, and by watching his father's addition of numbers in his account books, became an arithmetical prodigy. In later life, Arrhenius enjoyed using masses of data to discover mathematical relationships and laws.
At age 8, he entered the local cathedral school, starting in the fifth grade, distinguishing himself in physics and mathematics, and graduating as the youngest and most able student in 1876.
At the University of Uppsala, he was unsatisfied with the chief instructor of
Peter Goldreich (born July 14, 1939) is an American astrophysicist whose research focuses on celestial mechanics, planetary rings, helioseismology and neutron stars. He is currently the Lee DuBridge Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics at California Institute of Technology. Since 2005 he has also been a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Asteroid 3805 Goldreich is named after him.
Goldreich received a bachelor of science in engineering physics from Cornell University in 1960, and obtained a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1963 under the supervision of Thomas Gold. In 1963 and 1964 Goldreich was a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University. From 1964 to 1966 he was an Assistant Professor of Astronomy & Geophysics at UCLA. Goldreich joined the faculty at Caltech in 1966 as an associate professor. He later became a full professor in 1969 while remaining at Caltech, and in 1981 he became the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Astrophysics & Planetary Physics also at Caltech.
Goldreich and Alar Toomre first described the process of polar wander in a 1969 paper, although evidence of paleomagnetism was not discovered until later. Goldreich collaborated
Fulvio Melia (born 2 August 1956) is an Italian-American astrophysicist and author. He is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Arizona and Associate Editor of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. A former Presidential Young Investigator and Sloan Research Fellow, he is the author of six books and more than 230 articles on theoretical astrophysics.
Melia was born in Gorizia, Italy. He was educated at Melbourne University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and held a post-doctoral research position at the University of Chicago, before taking an assistant professorship at Northwestern University in 1987. Moving to the University of Arizona as an associate professor in 1991, he became a full professor in 1993. From 1988 to 1995, he was a Presidential Young Investigator (under President Ronald Reagan), and then an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow from 1989 to 1992. He became a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2002. He is also a Professorial Fellow in the School of Physics, Melbourne University.
From 1996 to 2002, he was a Scientific Editor with the Astrophysical Journal, and since then has been an Associate Editor with The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, SJ (born September 19, 1952 in Detroit, Michigan), is an American research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory.
Consolmagno attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School before he obtained his B.A. (1974), M.A. (1975) degrees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. (1978) at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, all in planetary science. After postdoctoral research and teaching at Harvard College Observatory and MIT, in 1983 he joined the US Peace Corps to serve in Kenya for two years, teaching astronomy and physics. After his return he took a position as Assistant Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
In 1989 he entered the Society of Jesus, and took vows as a brother in 1991. On entry into the order, he was assigned as an astronomer to the Vatican Observatory, where he also serves as curator of the Vatican Meteorite collection, positions he has held since then. In addition to his continuing professional work in planetary science, he has also studied philosophy and theology.
His research is centered on the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin
Hendricus Gerardus van de Sande Bakhuyzen (Apr 2, 1838, The Hague – Jan 8, 1923, Leiden) was a Dutch astronomer. His surname, van de Sande Bakhuyzen, is sometimes erroneously given as Backhuyzen or Bakhuysen. His first name is sometimes given as Hendrik Gerard. Not to be confused with the animal painter Hendrik van de Sande Bakhuyzen (1795–1860).
He studied astronomy under Frederik Kaiser.
After he got his degree, he was a high school teacher from 1864–1867, during which time he wrote a very successful textbook on mechanics. In 1867 he became a professor at the Technical College in Delft.
He became director of the Leiden Observatory in 1872 upon the death of Frederik Kaiser. He retired in 1908.
He chose to concentrate on fundamental astronomy rather than on the then-new field of spectroscopy. He worked mainly on the observation of asteroids, but also proved the connection between a meteor shower on November 27 and the comet 3D/Biela. He also worked on geodesy.
He edited and published the Mars drawings of Johann Hieronymus Schröter in 1881, long after the latter's death.
He married Geertruida van Vollenhoven, who died in 1910. They had two daughters and a son, Adriaan, who would be
Galileo Galilei (Italian pronunciation: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy", the "father of modern physics", the "father of science", and "the Father of Modern Science".
His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.
Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in
Johann Franz Encke (23 September 1791 – 26 August 1865) was a German astronomer. Among his activities, he worked on the calculation of the periods of comets and asteroids, measured the distance from the earth to the sun, and made observations on the planet Saturn.
Encke was born in Hamburg, where his father was a clergyman, and educated at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums. He studied mathematics and astronomy from 1811 at the University of Göttingen under Carl Friedrich Gauss; but he enlisted in the Hanseatic Legion for the campaign of 1813–1814, and became lieutenant of artillery in the Prussian army in 1815.
Having returned to Göttingen in 1816, he was at once appointed by Bernhardt von Lindenau as his assistant in the observatory of Seeberg near Gotha. There he completed his investigation of the comet of 1680, for which the Cotta prize was awarded to him in 1817 by judges Gauss and Olbers; he correctly assigned a period of 71 years to the comet of 1812. That comet is now called 12P/Pons-Brooks.
Following a suggestion by Jean-Louis Pons, who suspected one of the three comets discovered in 1818 to be the same one already discovered by him in 1805, Encke began to calculate the
Riccardo Giacconi (born October 6, 1931) is an Italian-born, naturalized American Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who laid the foundations of X-ray astronomy. He is currently a professor at the Johns Hopkins University.
Born in Genoa, Italy, Giacconi received his Laurea from the University of Milan before moving to the US to pursue a career in astrophysics research. He became an American citizen.
Since cosmic X-ray radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, space-based telescopes are needed for X-ray astronomy. Applying himself to this problem, Giacconi worked on the instrumentation for X-ray astronomy; from rocket-borne detectors in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to Uhuru, the first orbiting X-ray astronomy satellite, in the 1970s. Giacconi's pioneering research continued in 1978 with the Einstein Observatory, the first fully imaging X-ray telescope put into space, and later with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched in 1999 and is still in operation. Giacconi also applied his expertise to other fields of astronomy, becoming the first director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope.
Bonaventura Francesco Cavalieri (in Latin, Cavalerius) (1598 – November 30, 1647) was an Italian mathematician. He is known for his work on the problems of optics and motion, work on the precursors of infinitesimal calculus, and the introduction of logarithms to Italy. Cavalieri's principle in geometry partially anticipated integral calculus.
Born in Milan, Cavalieri studied theology in the monastery of San Gerolamo in Milan and geometry at the University of Pisa as a member of the Jesuates order. He published eleven books, his first being published in 1632. He worked on the problems of optics and motion. His astronomical and astrological work remained marginal to these main interests, though his last book, Trattato della ruota planetaria perpetua (1646), was dedicated to the former. He was introduced to Galileo Galilei through academic and ecclesiastical contacts. Galileo exerted a strong influence on Cavalieri encouraging him to work on his new method and suggesting fruitful ideas, and Cavalieri would write at least 112 letters to Galileo. Galileo said of Cavalieri, "few, if any, since Archimedes, have delved as far and as deep into the science of geometry." He also benefited
Pythagoras of Samos (Ancient Greek: Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος [Πυθαγόρης in Ionian Greek] Pythagóras ho Sámios "Pythagoras the Samian", or simply Πυθαγόρας; b. about 570 – d. about 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him. He was born on the island of Samos, and might have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and other places seeking knowledge. Around 530 BC, he moved to Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and there set up a religious sect. His followers pursued the religious rites and practices developed by Pythagoras, and studied his philosophical theories. The society took an active role in the politics of Croton, but this eventually led to their downfall. The Pythagorean meeting-places were burned, and Pythagoras was forced to flee the city. He is said to have ended his days in Metapontum.
Pythagoras made influential contributions to philosophy and religious teaching in the late 6th century BC. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic and
Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731 – October 9, 1806) was a free African American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer. Born in Baltimore County, Maryland to a free African-American woman and a former slave, Banneker had little formal education and was largely self-taught. He is known for being part of a group led by Major Andrew Ellicott that surveyed the borders of the original District of Columbia, the capital territory of the United States.
Banneker's knowledge of astronomy also helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the United States Declaration of Independence, on the topics of slavery and racial equality. Abolitionists and advocates of racial equality promoted and praised his works.
Parks, schools, streets and other tributes have commemorated Banneker throughout the years since he lived. However, many accounts of his life exaggerate or falsely attribute his works.
Benjamin Banneker was born November 9, 1731, in Baltimore County, Maryland to his mother Mary, a free black, and his father George, a fugitive slave. There are two conflicting accounts of Banneker's family history. Banneker
Sir Roger Penrose OM, FRS (born 8 August 1931), is an English mathematical physicist, recreational mathematician, philosopher and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, as well as Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College.
He is internationally renowned for his scientific work in mathematical physics, in particular his contributions to general relativity and cosmology. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe.
He was born in Colchester, Essex, England, Roger Penrose is a son of Lionel S. Penrose and Margaret Leathes. Penrose is the brother of mathematician Oliver Penrose and of chess Grandmaster Jonathan Penrose. Penrose attended University College School and University College, London, where he graduated with a first class degree in mathematics. In 1955, while still a student, Penrose reintroduced the E. H. Moore generalized matrix inverse, also known as the Moore–Penrose inverse, after it had been reinvented by Arne Bjerhammar (1951). Penrose earned his Ph.D. at Cambridge (St
Johann Heinrich Lambert (August 26, 1728 – September 25, 1777) was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, philosopher and astronomer.
Asteroid 187 Lamberta was named in his honour.
Lambert was born in 1728 in the city of Mulhouse (now in Alsace, France), at that time an exclave of Switzerland. Leaving school he continued to study in his free time whilst undertaking a series of jobs. These included assistant to his father (a tailor), a clerk at a nearby iron works, a private tutor, secretary to the editor of Basler Zeitung and, at the age of 20, private tutor to the sons of Count Salis in Chur. Travelling Europe with his charges (1756–1758) allowed him to meet established mathematicians in the German states, The Netherlands, France and the Italian states. On his return to Chur he published his first books (on optics and cosmology) and began to seek an academic post. After a few short posts he was rewarded (1764) by an invitation from Euler to a position at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, where he gained the sponsorship of Frederick II of Prussia. In this stimulating, and financially stable, environment he worked prodigiously until his death in 1777.
Lambert was the first to
Jean-Sylvain Bailly (15 September 1736 – 12 November 1793) was a French astronomer, mathematician, and political leader of the early part of the French Revolution. He presided over the Tennis Court Oath, served as the mayor of Paris from 1789 to 1791 and was ultimately guillotined during the Reign of Terror.
Born in Paris, Bailly was the son of Jacques Bailly, an artist and supervisor of the Louvre, and was the grandson of Nicholas Bailly, also an artist and a court painter. As a child he originally intended to follow in his family tradition and pursue a career in the arts, but he became deeply attracted to science, particularly astronomy, by the influence of Nicolas de Lacaille. An excellent student with a "particularly retentive memory and inexhaustible patience", he calculated an orbit for the next appearance of Halley's Comet (in 1759), and correctly reduced Lacaille's observations of 515 stars. He participated in the construction of an observatory at the Louvre. For such achievements he was elected to the 31st seat of the French Academy of Sciences in 1763.
Bailly published his Essay on the theory of the satellites of Jupiter in 1766), an expansion of a presentation he had
Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (15 March 1713 – 21 March 1762) was a French astronomer.
He is noted for his catalogue of nearly 10,000 southern stars, including 42 nebulous objects. This catalogue, called Coelum Australe Stelliferum, was published posthumously in 1763. It introduced 14 new constellations which have since become standard. He also calculated a table of eclipses for 1800 years.
In honor of his contribution to the study of the southern hemisphere sky, a 60-cm telescope at Reunion Island will be named the La Caille Telescope.
Born at Rumigny, Ardennes, he was left destitute by the death of his father, who held a post in the household of the duchess of Vendôme. Therefore, his theological studies at the College de Lisieux in Paris were undertaken at the expense of the duke of Bourbon.
After he had taken deacon's orders, however, he concentrated on science, and, through the patronage of Jacques Cassini, obtained employment, first in surveying the coast from Nantes to Bayonne, then, in 1739, in remeasuring the French arc of the meridian, for which he is honored with a pyramid at Juvisy-sur-Orge. The success of this difficult operation, which occupied two years, and achieved
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS (born 4 March 1923) is an English amateur astronomer who has attained prominent status in astronomy as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter.
He is a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books on astronomy, and presenter of the world's longest-running television series with the same original presenter, The Sky at Night on the BBC. As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle have made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television.
Moore is also a self-taught xylophone and piano player and an accomplished composer, and a former amateur cricketer, golfer, and chess player. In addition to his many popular science books, he has written numerous works of fiction, and was the presenter of the 1990s TV series GamesMaster. An opponent of fox hunting, he is an outspoken critic of the European Union, and served as chairman of the short-lived
Sir Frederick "Fred" Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001) was an English astronomer and mathematician noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally coined by him on BBC radio. In addition to his work as an astronomer, Hoyle was a writer of science fiction, including a number of books co-written with his son Geoffrey Hoyle. Hoyle spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and served as its director for a number of years. He died in Bournemouth, England, after a series of strokes.
Hoyle was born near Bingley in Gilstead, West Yorkshire, England. His father, Ben Hoyle, worked in the wool trade in Bradford. His mother, Mabel Pickard, had studied music at the Royal College of Music in London. Hoyle was educated at Bingley Grammar School and read mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In the autumn of 1940, Hoyle left Cambridge to go to Portsmouth to work for the Admiralty on radar research, for example devising a method to get the altitude of the incoming
Hipparchus /hɪˈpɑːrkəs/ of Nicaea, or more correctly Hipparchos (Greek: Ἵππαρχος, Hipparkhos; c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC), was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician of the Hellenistic period. He is considered the founder of trigonometry but is most famous for his incidental discovery of precession of the equinoxes.
Hipparchus was born in Nicaea, Bithynia (now Iznik, Turkey), and probably died on the island of Rhodes. He is known to have been a working astronomer at least from 162 to 127 BC. Hipparchus is considered the greatest ancient astronomical observer and, by some, the greatest overall astronomer of antiquity. He was the first whose quantitative and accurate models for the motion of the Sun and Moon survive. For this he certainly made use of the observations and perhaps the mathematical techniques accumulated over centuries by the Chaldeans from Babylonia. He developed trigonometry and constructed trigonometric tables, and he solved several problems of spherical trigonometry. With his solar and lunar theories and his trigonometry, he may have been the first to develop a reliable method to predict solar eclipses. His other reputed achievements include the discovery of
George Ellery Hale (June 29, 1868 – February 21, 1938) was an American solar astronomer.
Hale was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was educated at MIT, at the Observatory of Harvard College, (1889–90), and at Berlin (1893–94). As an undergraduate at MIT, he is known for inventing the spectrohelioscope, with which he made his discovery of solar vortices. In 1908, he used the Zeeman effect with a modified spectrohelioscope to establish that sunspots were magnetic. Subsequent work demonstrated a strong tendency for east-west alignment of magnetic polarities in sunspots, with mirror symmetry across the solar equator; and that the polarity in each hemisphere switched orientation from one sunspot cycle to the next. This systematic property of sunspot magnetic fields is now commonly referred to as the "Hale-Nicholson law," or in many cases simply "Hale's law."
In 1890, he was appointed director of the Kenwood Astrophysical Observatory; he was professor of Astrophysics at Beloit College (1891–93); associate professor at the University of Chicago until 1897, and full professor (1897–1905). He was coeditor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1892–95, and after 1895 editor of the Astrophysical
John Evan Baldwin FRS (6 December 1931 – 7 December 2010) worked at the Cavendish Astrophysics Group (formerly Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory) from 1954. He played a pivotal role in the development of interferometry in Radio Astronomy, and later astronomical optical interferometry and lucky imaging. He made the first maps of the radio emission from the Andromeda Galaxy and the Perseus Cluster, and measured the properties of many active galaxies. In 1985 he performed the first Aperture Masking Interferometry observations, and then led the construction and operation of the Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope, and helped develop the lucky imaging method. In 2001 he was awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal for his technical contributions to the fields of interferometry and aperture synthesis.
He matriculated as a member of Queens' College, Cambridge in 1949 and has been a Life Fellow of the College since 1999.
Olin Jeuck Eggen (July 9, 1919 – October 2, 1998) was an American astronomer.
Olin Jeuck Eggen was born to Olin Eggen and Bertha Clare Jeuck in the village of Orfordville in Rock County, Wisconsin. Both of his parents were of Norwegian extraction. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1940. After serving in World War II in the OSS, he returned to the university and received his Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1948.
He became known as one of the best observational astronomers of his time. He is best known for a seminal 1962 paper with Donald Lynden-Bell and Allan Sandage which suggested for the first time that the Milky Way Galaxy had collapsed out of a gas cloud. He first introduced the now-accepted notion of moving groups of stars. He won the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship in 1985.
Over that time he held positions at Lick Observatory (1948–1956), Royal Greenwich Observatory (1956–1961), California Institute of Technology, Mt. Wilson Observatory (1961–1966), Mount Stromlo Observatory, Australian National Observatory (1966–1977), and at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (1977–1998).
Eggen's professional memberships and honors include the American Astronomical
Wilhelm Julius Foerster (December 16, 1832 – January 18, 1921) was a German astronomer. His name can also be written Förster, but is usually written "Foerster" even in most German sources where 'ö' is otherwise used in the text.
A native of Grünberg, Silesia, he studied at Berlin and Bonn, and worked as Johann Franz Encke's assistant. In 1860, he co-discovered asteroid 62 Erato with Oskar Lesser, the first co-discovery on record. He became professor of astronomy at the University of Berlin in 1863. After Encke's death in 1865, he became director of the Berlin Observatory, until 1903.
In 1868 he was appointed director of the commission established by the North German Confederation, and continued from 1871 by the German Empire, for the determination of standards of measurement. In this capacity, he superintended the reorganization of the German system of weights and measures on the metric basis. He was elected president of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in 1891.
In 1892, he assisted in the founding of the German Society for Ethical Culture (GSEC; German: Deutsche Gesellschaft für ethische Kultur), in which Albert Einstein also participated). He was also a member of
George Henry Peters (1863–October 18, 1947) was an US astronomer. He died in Washington, D.C.
He worked at the U.S. Naval Observatory as an astrophotographer, discovering three asteroids and photographing the Sun's corona.
Ismaël Bullialdus (September 28, 1605 – November 25, 1694) was a French astronomer.
Bullialdus was born Ismaël Boulliau in Loudun, Vienne, France, the first surviving son to Calvinists Susanna Motet and Ismaël Boulliau, a notary by profession and amateur astronomer. At age twenty-one he converted to Catholicism, and by twenty-six was ordained as a priest. In 1632 he moved to Paris, where he worked as a librarian for the Bibliothèque du Roi with brothers Pierre and Jacques Dupuy, traveling widely within Italy, Holland, and Germany to purchase books. In 1657 he became secretary to the French ambassador to Holland, then once again a librarian, and in 1666 moved to the Collège de Laon. During the final five years of his life, he returned to the priesthood at the Abbey St Victor in Paris, where he died.
Bullialdus was a friend of Pierre Gassendi, Christiaan Huygens, Marin Mersenne, and Blaise Pascal, and an active supporter of Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus. It is for his astronomical and mathematical works that he is best known. Chief among them is his Astronomia philolaica, (published 1645). In this work he strongly supported Kepler's hypothesis that the planets travel in
Dr. Josef Allen Hynek (May 1, 1910 – April 27, 1986) was a United States astronomer, professor, and ufologist. He is perhaps best remembered for his UFO research. Hynek acted as scientific adviser to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under three consecutive names: Project Sign (1947–1949), Project Grudge (1949–1952), and Project Blue Book (1952 to 1969). For decades afterwards, he conducted his own independent UFO research, developing the Close Encounter classification system, and is widely considered the father of the concept of scientific analysis of both reports and, especially, trace evidence purportedly left by UFOs.
Hynek was born in Chicago to Czech parents. In 1931, Hynek received a B.S. from the University of Chicago. In 1935, he completed his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Yerkes Observatory. He joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State University in 1936. He specialized in the study of stellar evolution and in the identification of spectroscopic binaries.
During World War II, Hynek was a civilian scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where he helped to develop the United States Navy's radio proximity fuze.
After the war, Hynek
Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, FRS (17 May 1836 – 16 August 1920), known simply as Norman Lockyer, was an English scientist and astronomer. 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.
Lockyer was born in Rugby, Warwickshire. After a conventional schooling supplemented by travel in Switzerland and France, he worked for some years as a civil servant in the British War office. He settled in Wimbledon, South London after marrying Winifred James. A keen amateur astronomer with a particular interest in the Sun, Lockyer eventually became Director of the Solar Physics Observatory in Kensington London.
In the 1860s Lockyer became fascinated by electromagnetic spectroscopy as an analytical tool for determining the composition of heavenly bodies. He conducted his research from his new home in West Hampstead, with a 6¼ inch telescope which he already used Wimbledon. In 1868 a prominent yellow line was observed in a spectrum taken near the edge of the Sun. With a wavelength of about 588 nm, slightly less than the so-called "D" lines of sodium. the
Philip Cary Plait, Ph.D. (born September 30, 1964) (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer) is an American astronomer and skeptic who runs the website BadAstronomy.com. He formerly worked at the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University. In early 2007, he resigned from his job to write Death from the Skies. On August 4, 2008, he became President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He served in that position until January 1, 2010, when he was succeeded by noted skeptic D. J. Grothe.
Plait grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Virginia in 1994 with a thesis on SN 1987A, which he studied with the Supernova Intensive Study (SINS). He first worked with the COBE satellite and then with the STIS on the Hubble Space Telescope for five years. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado and writes full time, but often hosts special events and serves as an adviser and commentator in several capacities, including events focusing on skepticism, such as SkeptiCamp.
Plait performed web-based public outreach for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other NASA-funded missions while at Sonoma State University from 2000 to 2007.
Cuno Hoffmeister (February 2, 1892 – January 2, 1968) was a German astronomer and founder of Sonneberg Observatory.
Born in Sonneberg in 1892 to Carl and Marie Hoffmeister, Cuno Hoffmeister obtained his first telescope in 1905 and became an avid amateur astronomer. After his father lost most of his money in 1914, Hoffmeister had to leave school in 1916 to start an apprenticeship in his father's company. During this time he continued to study spherical mathematics and trigonometry. In April 1915 Hoffmeister had the opportunity to substitute as the assistant of Ernst Hartwig at Remeis Observatory in Bamberg while the current holder of the position was drafted, mainly working on observations of meteors and variable stars. He held this position until the end of the war and then moved back to Sonneberg, where he made his Abitur in 1920. After studying at the University of Jena, while at the same time continuing to work in his job as a tradesman, Hoffmeister obtained his doctorate in 1927. During this time he had already started building what was to become Sonneberg Observatory. After his PhD, Hoffmeister moved back to Sonneberg and started expanding the observatory. Hoffmeister remained
Astronomical objects discovered:Upsilon Andromedae b
Geoffrey W. Marcy (born September 29, 1954, St. Clair Shores, Michigan) is an American astronomer, who is currently Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, famous for discovering more extrasolar planets than anyone else, 70 out of the first 100 to be discovered, along with R. Paul Butler and Debra Fischer.
Marcy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Summa Cum Laude with a double major in physics and astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976. He then completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Astrophysics and Astronomy in 1982 at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
He has held teaching positions, first at the Carnegie Institution of Washington as a Carnegie Fellow from 1982 to 1984. Marcy then worked as an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy from 1984 to 1996 and then as a Distinguished University Professor from 1997 to 1999 at the San Francisco State University. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the San Francisco State University and a Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and the Director of Center for Integrative Planetary Science.
In the early 1980s, his research into
James Ferguson (August 31, 1797 – September 26, 1867) was an American astronomer and engineer (he helped build the Erie canal) born in Scotland who made the first discovery of an asteroid from North America (31 Euphrosyne). Starting in 1847, he worked at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.
The asteroid 1745 Ferguson, discovered from the same observatory, was later named in his honour.
Nicolaus Copernicus (German: Nikolaus Kopernikus; Italian: Nicolò Copernico; Polish: Mikołaj Kopernik (help·info); in his youth, Niclas Koppernigk; 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe.
Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the scientific revolution. His heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of science that is often referred to as the Copernican Revolution.
Among the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, jurist with a doctorate in law, physician, quadrilingual polyglot, classics scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, governor,
Sir Frank Watson Dyson, KBE, FRS (8 January 1868 – 25 May 1939) was an English astronomer and Astronomer Royal who is remembered today largely for introducing time signals ("pips") from Greenwich, England, and for the role he played in testing Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Dyson was born in Measham, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, the son of the Rev Watson Dyson, but soon moved to Yorkshire. There he attended Heath Grammar School, Halifax, and subsequently won scholarships to Bradford Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he studied mathematics and astronomy, being placed Second Wrangler in 1889.
In 1894 he was given the post of Senior Assistant at Greenwich Observatory and worked on the Astrographic Catalogue, which was published in 1905.
He was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland from 1905 to 1910, and Astronomer Royal (and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory) from 1910 to 1933. In 1928, he introduced in the Observatory a new free-pendulum clock, the most accurate clock available at that time and organised the regular wireless transmission from the GPO wireless station at Rugby of Greenwich Mean Time. He also, in 1924,
Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (22 July 1784 – 17 March 1846) was a German mathematician, astronomer, and systematizer of the Bessel functions (which were discovered by Daniel Bernoulli). He was a contemporary of Carl Gauss, also a mathematician and physicist. The asteroid 1552 Bessel was named in his honour.
Bessel was born in Minden in Minden-Ravensberg, the son of a civil servant. At the age of 14 Bessel was apprenticed to the import-export concern Kulenkamp. He soon became the company's accountant. The business's reliance on cargo ships led him to turn his mathematical skills to problems in navigation. This in turn led to an interest in astronomy as a way of determining longitude.
Bessel came to the attention of a major figure of German astronomy at the time, Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers, by producing a refinement on the orbital calculations for Halley's Comet. Within two years Bessel had left Kulenkamp and become an assistant at Lilienthal Observatory near Bremen. There he worked on James Bradley's stellar observations to produce precise positions for some 3,222 stars.
This work attracted considerable attention, and in January 1810, at the age of 25, Bessel was appointed director of the
Hans-Emil Schuster (born September 19, 1934 in Hamburg) is a German astronomer who retired in October 1991. He worked at Hamburg Observatory at Bergedorf and European Southern Observatory (ESO), and was former acting director of La Silla Observatory. Since 1982, he was married to Rosemarie Schuster née von Holt (March 28, 1935 - September 18, 2006)
He discovered periodic comet 106P/Schuster. He also discovered the comet C/1976 D2 (in the contemporary nomenclature, it was known as Comet 1975 II or 1976c), which was notable for its large perihelion distance of 6.88 AU , the largest yet observed at the time.
He discovered 25 asteroids, including notably the Apollo asteroid 2329 Orthos and the Amor asteroids 2608 Seneca, 3271 Ul, 3288 Seleucus, and 3908 Nyx. He discovered the near-earth asteroid 161989 Cacus, which was lost and not recovered until 2003.
Schuster participated in the exploration, selection and testing of the sites of two ESO observatories: La Silla Observatory and Paranal Observatory (the latter is the VLT site).
He also participated in two ESO Southern Sky Surveys: the ESO-B survey ("Quick-Blue Survey") completed in 1978 was the first deep optical survey of the
Joseph-Louis Lagrange (25 January 1736 – 10 April 1813), born Giuseppe Luigi Lagrancia (often known as Giuseppe Luigi Lagrangia in the scientific literature) was an Italian-born French mathematician and astronomer born in Turin, Piedmont, who lived part of his life in Prussia and part in France. He made significant contributions to all fields of analysis, number theory, and classical and celestial mechanics. On the recommendation of Euler and d'Alembert, in 1766 Lagrange succeeded Euler as the director of mathematics at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, where he stayed for over twenty years, producing a large body of work and winning several prizes of the French Academy of Sciences. Lagrange's treatise on analytical mechanics (Mécanique Analytique, 4. ed., 2 vols. Paris: Gauthier-Villars et fils, 1888–89), written in Berlin and first published in 1788, offered the most comprehensive treatment of classical mechanics since Newton and formed a basis for the development of mathematical physics in the nineteenth century.
Lagrange's parents were Italian, although his paternal great grandfather was French. In 1787, at age 51, he moved from Berlin to France and became a member
Marcel Gilles Jozef Minnaert (12 February 1893–26 October 1970) was a Belgian astronomer.
He obtained a PhD in biology at Ghent University in 1914. Later he obtained a PhD in physics too.
He was a supporter of the Flemish movement during World War I and endorsed the replacement of French by Dutch during the German occupation of Belgium. Because of this, he was forced to flee Belgium after the end of the war.
In 1918, he found a position at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, initially to do photometric research. In Utrecht, he became interested in astronomy, and he became a pioneer of solar research. He specialized in spectroscopy and the study of stellar atmospheres.
Minnaert was also interested in bubbles and musical nature of the sounds made by running water. In 1933 he published a solution for the acoustic resonance frequency of a single bubble in water, the so-called Minnaert resonance.
In 1937, he was appointed director of the stellar observatory Sonnenborgh in Utrecht and full professor in astronomy at the university. In 1940, he published his famous Utrecht Atlas of the solar spectrum. In 1941, he invented the Minnaert function, which is used in optical measurements of
William Lassell FRS (18 June 1799 – 5 October 1880) was an English merchant and astronomer.
Born in Bolton and educated in Rochdale after the death of his father, he was apprenticed from 1814 to 1821 to a merchant in Liverpool. He then made his fortune as a beer brewer, which enabled him to indulge his interest in astronomy. He built an observatory at Starfield near Liverpool with a 24-inch (610 mm) reflector telescope, for which he pioneered the use of an equatorial mount for easy tracking of objects as the earth rotates. He ground and polished the mirror himself, using equipment he constructed. The observatory was later (1854) moved further out of Liverpool to Bradstones.
In 1846 Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. In 1848 he independently co-discovered Hyperion, a moon of Saturn. In 1851 he discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of Uranus.
When Queen Victoria visited Liverpool in 1851, Lassell was the only local she specifically requested to meet.
In 1855, he built a 48-inch (1,200 mm) telescope, which he installed in Malta because of the better observing
Chadwick A. "Chad" Trujillo (born 22 November 1973) is an astronomer and the co-discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris.
Trujillo works with computer software and has examined the orbits of the numerous trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), which is the outer area of the solar system that he specialized in. In late August 2005, it was announced that Trujillo, along with Michael E. Brown and David L. Rabinowitz, had discovered Eris. As a result of the discovery of the satellite Dysnomia, Eris was the first TNO known to be more massive than Pluto.
Trujillo attended Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois. He received his B.Sc. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995, and was a member of the Xi chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi, and received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Hawaii in 2000.
Trujillo was later a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech, and is currently an astronomer at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii . He studies the Kuiper belt and the outer solar system. The main-belt asteroid 12101 Trujillo is named for him.
He has discovered several trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). The last major TNO, Eris, was considered by him, his team, NASA, and
John Goodricke FRS (17 September 1764 – 20 April 1786) was an eminent amateur astronomer. He is best known for his observations of the variable star Algol (Beta Persei) in 1782.
John Goodricke, named after his grandfather Sir John Goodricke (see Goodricke baronets of Ribston Hall), was born in Groningen in the Netherlands, but lived most of his life in England. He was born deaf and a mute. His parents sent him to Thomas Braidwood's Academy, a school for deaf pupils in Edinburgh, and in 1778 to the Warrington Academy.
After leaving Warrington, Goodricke returned to live with his parents in York. There, he became friends with Edward Pigott, whose father Nathaniel Pigott had built a sophisticated private observatory. Edward was already interested in variable stars, and he gave Goodricke a list of those that he thought were worthy of observation.
Goodricke is credited with discovering the periodic variation of the eponymous δ Cephei, of the Cepheid variable stars.
Although several stars were already known to vary in apparent magnitude, Goodricke was the first to propose a mechanism to account for this. He suggested that Algol is what is now known as an eclipsing binary. He presented
Abū al-Rayhān Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bīrūnī (born 5 September 973 in Kath, Khwarezm, now region in Uzbekistan, died 13 December 1048 in Ghazni) known as Alberonius in Latin and Al-Biruni in English, was a Persian-Chorasmian Muslim scholar and polymath of the 11th century.
Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist. He was conversant in Chorasmian, Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and also knew Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. He spent a large part of his life in Ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan, capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty which ruled eastern Iranian lands and the northwestern Indian subcontinent. In 1017 he traveled to the Indian subcontinent and became the most important interpreter of Indian science to the Islamic world. He is given the titles the "founder of Indology" and the "first anthropologist". He was an impartial writer on custom and creeds of various nations, and was given the title al-Ustdadh ("The Master") for his remarkable description of early 11th-century India. He also made contributions
David Rittenhouse (April 8, 1732 – June 26, 1796) was a renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official. Rittenhouse was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the first director of the United States Mint.
Rittenhouse was born near Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a small village called RittenhouseTown. This village is located along the stream Paper Mill Run; the stream itself a tiny tributary of the Wissahickon Creek.
When his uncle died, Rittenhouse inherited his uncle's set of carpentry tools and instructional books. Using his uncle's tools, he began a career as an inventor. Also at a young age, Rittenhouse showed a high level of intelligence by creating a working scale model of his grandfather's paper mill. He was self-taught and showed great ability in science and mathematics.
When Rittenhouse was 13 years of age, he had mastered Isaac Newton's laws of motion and gravity. As a young boy he loved to build scale models, such as a working waterwheel and a paper mill. Rittenhouse never went to elementary school and was completely self-educated from family books.
When he was 19,
Eugene Merle Shoemaker (or Gene Shoemaker) (April 28, 1928 – July 18, 1997), American geologist, was one of the founders of the fields of planetary science. Born in Los Angeles, California, he is best known for co-discovering the Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy.
For his Ph.D. degree at Princeton (1960), Shoemaker studied the impact dynamics of Barringer Meteor Crater, located near Winslow, Arizona. To understand the dynamics, Shoemaker inspected craters that remained after underground atomic bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site at Yucca Flats. He found a ring of ejected material that included shocked quartz (coesite), a form of quartz that has a microscopically unique structure caused by intense pressure.
Shoemaker helped pioneer the field of astrogeology by founding the Astrogeology Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1961 at Flagstaff, Arizona and he was its first director. He was prominently involved in the Lunar Ranger missions to the Moon, which showed that the Moon was covered with a wide size range of impact craters. Shoemaker was also involved in the training of the American astronauts. He himself was a possible candidate
Fearon Fallows (4 July 1789 – 25 July 1831) was an English astronomer.
He was born in Cockermouth in Cumbria, the son of John Fallows, a weaver, and his wife Rebecca Fallas. Due in some part to the dedication of his father and the generosity of the townspeople, the scholarly Fearon was given the funds to attend St John's College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics, coming third in his year when he graduated in 1813. He obtained his Master of Arts in 1816 and went on to teach mathematics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He also became a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge and an ordained priest in the Church of England. On 29 February 1820 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and on 8 June 1820 he was granted a fellowship of the Royal Society. One of his proposers for his fellowship to the Royal Society was John Herschel (son of William Herschel) whom he met at St John's College, Cambridge. Later in that year he was appointed by the Admiralty to be the astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope, which would involve overseeing the building of an observatory in what was then a British colony. Before travelling to South Africa, he married Mary Anne Hervey, on
James Walter Christy (born 1938) is an American astronomer.
On June 22, 1978 while working at the United States Naval Observatory, he discovered that Pluto had a moon, which he named Charon shortly afterwards. The name remained unofficial until its adoption by the IAU in 1986.
The discovery was made by carefully examining an enlargement of a photographic plate of Pluto and noticing it had a very slight bulge on one side. This plate and others had been marked "poor" because the elongated image of Pluto was thought to be a defect resulting from improper alignment. However, Christy noticed that only Pluto was elongated—the background stars were not.
Christy's earlier work at the Naval Observatory had included photographing double stars, so it occurred to him that this bulge might be a companion of Pluto. After examining images from observatory archives dating back to 1965, he concluded that the bulge was indeed a moon.
The photographic evidence was considered convincing but not conclusive (it remained possible that the bulge was a giant mountain on Pluto). However, based on Charon's calculated orbit, a series of mutual eclipses of Pluto and Charon was predicted and observed,
The Reverend Dr Nevil Maskelyne FRS (6 October 1732 – 20 July 1811) was the fifth English Astronomer Royal. He held the office from 1765 to 1811.
Maskelyne was born in London, the third son of Edmund Maskelyne of Purton, Wiltshire. Maskelyne's father died when he was 12, leaving the family in reduced circumstances. Maskelyne attended Westminster School and was still a pupil there when his mother died in 1748. His interest in astronomy had begun while at Westminster School, shortly after the eclipse of 25 July 1748.
Maskelyne entered St Catharine's College, Cambridge in 1749, graduating as seventh wrangler in 1754. Ordained as a minister in 1755, he became a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1756.
About 1785 Maskelyne married Sophia Rose of Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. Their only child, Margaret (1786–1858), was the mother of Mervyn Herbert Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823–1911) professor of mineralogy at Oxford (1856–95). Maskelyne's sister, Margaret, married Robert Clive.
Nevil Maskelyne is buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, the parish church of the village of Purton, Wiltshire, England.
In 1758 Maskelyne was admitted to the Royal Society, which in 1761 despatched
William Robert Brooks (June 11, 1844 – May 3, 1921) was a British-born American astronomer, mainly noted as being one of the most prolific discoverers of new comets of all time, second only to Jean-Louis Pons. He was born in Maidstone, England, the son of a Baptist minister who emigrated to Marion, New York. Son of Rev. William and Caroline (Wickings) Brooks.
Brooks developed his interest in astronomy during a boyhood voyage to Australia, when he observed a navigator making measurements with a sextant. As a young man he worked in the Shepherd Iron Works in Buffalo, New York, gaining considerable mechanical and draughtsmanship skills: he went on to become a portrait photographer in Phelps before turning his attention to astronomy full-time. Brooks had a good knowledge of lens construction, and was able to design and make his own telescopes, taking a year to grind and polish the optics for his nine-inch reflector.
After marrying Mary E. Smith in 1870, Brooks moved to Phelps where he discovered his first comet in 1881, using a telescope of his own construction. In 1886 he discovered 3 new comets.
Brooks' success at comet discovery was noticed by businessman William Smith, who, wishing
Alexis Bouvard (27 June 1767 – 7 June 1843) was a French astronomer. He is particularly noted for his careful observations of the irregularities in the motion of Uranus and his hypothesis of the existence of an eighth planet in the solar system.
Born in Contamines, France, Bouvard's achievements included the discovery of eight comets and the compilation of astronomical tables of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. While the former two tables were eminently successful, the latter showed substantial discrepancies with subsequent observations. This led Bouvard to hypothesise the existence of an eighth planet responsible for the irregularities in Uranus' orbit. The position of Neptune was subsequently calculated from Bouvard's observations, independently, by John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier after his death.
Bouvard was eventually director of the Paris Observatory after starting their as a student astronomer in 1793 and working under Pierre-Simon Laplace. He died in Paris.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM, FRS (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944) was a British astrophysicist of the early 20th century. He was also a philosopher of science and a popularizer of science. The Eddington limit, the natural limit to the luminosity of stars, or the radiation generated by accretion onto a compact object, is named in his honor.
He is famous for his work regarding the theory of relativity. Eddington wrote a number of articles which announced and explained Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. World War I severed many lines of scientific communication and new developments in German science were not well known in England, and vice versa. He also conducted an expedition to observe the Solar eclipse of 29 May 1919 that provided one of the earliest confirmations of relativity, and he became known for his popular expositions and interpretations of the theory.
His cremated remains were buried in the grave of his mother at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge; there is a headstone for him in the burial ground of Yealand Quaker Meeting in Yealand Conyers, Lancashire.
Eddington was born in Kendal, Cumbria, England, the
John Cromwell Mather (b. August 7, 1946, Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE) with George Smoot. COBE was the first experiment to measure "... the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation."
This work helped cement the big-bang theory of the universe. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science."
Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the U.S. space agency's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.
Mather is also the project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, a space telescope to be launched to L2 no earlier than 2018.
In October 2010 Mather will be participating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Lunch with a Laureate program where middle and high school students will get to engage in an informal conversation with a Nobel Prize winning
Edward Charles Pickering (July 19, 1846–February 3, 1919) was an American astronomer and physicist, brother of William Henry Pickering.
Along with Carl Vogel, Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binary stars. He wrote Elements of Physical Manipulations (2 vol., 1873–76).
Pickering attended Boston Latin School, and received his B.S. from Harvard in 1865. Soon after graduating from Harvard, Pickering taught physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, he served as director of Harvard College Observatory from 1877 to his death in 1919, where he made great leaps forward in the gathering of stellar spectra through the use of photography.
At Harvard, he recruited many women to work for him, including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and Antonia Maury. These women, who came to be known as "Pickering's Harem" by the scientific community, made several important discoveries at HCO. Leavitt's discovery of the period-luminosity relationship for Cepheids, published by Pickering, would prove the foundation for the modern understanding of cosmological distances.
In 1876 he co-founded the Appalachian Mountain Club.
In 1882, Pickering developed a method to
Johannes Kepler (German pronunciation: [ˈkʰɛplɐ]; December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. These works also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation.
During his career, Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a seminary school in Graz, Austria, where he became an associate of Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. Later he became an assistant to astronomer Tycho Brahe, and eventually the imperial mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II and his two successors Matthias and Ferdinand II. He was also a mathematics teacher in Linz, Austria, and an adviser to General Wallenstein. Additionally, he did fundamental work in the field of optics, invented an improved version of the refracting telescope (the Keplerian Telescope), and mentioned the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei.
Kepler lived in an era when there was no clear distinction between
Karl Guthe Jansky (October 22, 1905 – February 14, 1950) was an American physicist and radio engineer who in August 1931 first discovered radio waves emanating from the Milky Way. He is considered one of the founding figures of radio astronomy.
Karl Guthe Jansky was born in what was then the Territory of Oklahoma where his father, Cyril M. Jansky, was Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma at Norman. Dean Jansky, born in Wisconsin of Czech immigrants, had started teaching at the age of sixteen. He was a teacher throughout his active life, retiring as Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. He was an engineer with a strong interest in physics, a trait passed on to his sons. Karl Jansky was named after Dr. Karl Guthe, who had been an important mentor to Cyril M. Jansky.
Karl Jansky's mother, née Nellie Moreau, was of French and English descent. Karl's brother Cyril Jansky Jr., who was ten years older, helped build some of the earliest radio transmitters in the country, including 9XM in Wisconsin (now WHA of Wisconsin Public Radio) and 9XI in Minnesota (now KUOM).
Karl Jansky attended college at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Richard Anthony Proctor (23 March 1837 in Chelsea, London – 12 September 1888) was an English astronomer.
He is best remembered for having produced one of the earliest maps of Mars in 1867 from 27 drawings by the English observer William Rutter Dawes.
His map was later superseded by those of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Eugène Antoniadi and his nomenclature was dropped (for instance, his "Kaiser Sea" became Syrtis Major Planum).
He used old drawings of Mars dating back to 1666 to try to determine the sidereal day of Mars. His final estimate, in 1873, was 24h 37m 22.713s, reasonably close to the modern value of 24h 37m 22.663s. Nevertheless, Frederik Kaiser's value of 24h 37m 22.622s is closer.
A crater on Mars is named after Proctor.
He was a delicate child, and, his father dying in 1850, his mother attended herself to his education. On his health improving he was sent to King's College London, and subsequently earned a scholarship at St John's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1860 as 23rd wrangler. His marriage while still an undergraduate probably accounted for his low place in the tripos.
He then read for the bar, but turned to astronomy and authorship instead, and in 1865
Hendrik Christoffel "Henk" van de Hulst ForMemRS (Utrecht, November 19, 1918 – Leiden, July 31, 2000) was a Dutch astronomer and mathematician.
In 1944, while a student in Utrecht, he predicted the existence of the 21 cm hyperfine line of neutral interstellar hydrogen. After this line was discovered, he participated, with Jan Oort and Alex Muller, in the effort to use radio astronomy to map out the neutral hydrogen in our galaxy, which first revealed its spiral structure.
He published well known book on light scattering and developed anomalous diffraction approximation describing light scattering by optically soft and large spheres.
He spent most of his career at the University of Leiden.
Named after him
Alexandre Schaumasse (1882 – 1958) was a French astronomer.
He discovered the periodic comet 24P/Schaumasse. He also discovered two non-periodic comets: C/1913 J1 (Schaumasse) or 1913 II; and C/1917 H1 (Schaumasse) or 1917 II. He also discovered two asteroids.
Gaston Fayet, director of the Observatory of Nice, gave him the responsibility of the Chercheur de comètes (Comet finder), a 25 cm (F/D 7.2) refractor offered by Germany to France after the World War 1, but it seems he never made serious observations with this instrument, which is "plenty of aberrations," according to the astronomer Robert Jonckheere. The 2 instruments he used most were the Grand Equatorial Coudé (with which he performed most of his observations) and the Petit Equatorial (current dome Charlois).
He was severely wounded in 1914 while serving in the French army in World War I and spent at least a year in hospital.
The building built in 1931 to house the Chercheur de comètes now bears his name (Schaumasse dome).
Georg von Peuerbach (also Purbach, Peurbach, Purbachius, his real surname is unknown) (born May 30, 1423 in Peuerbach near Linz – April 8, 1461 in Vienna) was an Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker.
About the year 1440 Peuerbach received the degree of master of philosophy and the free arts, cum insigni laude, at the University of Vienna. His teacher in mathematics was probably Johann von Gmunden.
In 1448 Peuerbach went on a trip to Italy for the sake of study. There, Giovanni Bianchini of Ferrara and Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, then in Rome, became interested in the young man and induced him to lecture on astronomy at the University of Ferrara. He refused offers of professorships at Bologna and Padua, and also the appointment as court astronomer to King Ladislaus of Hungary, but went back to Vienna in 1450 to teach. He lectured on philology and classical literature. His scientific teaching was done chiefly in private, his most famous pupil being Johann Müller of Königsberg, later known as Regiomontanus.
Purbach has been called the father of mathematical and observational astronomy in the West. He began to work up Ptolemy's Almagest and Alhazen's On the
Astronomical objects discovered:Diurnal Rotation of Venus
This article is about the Italian-born astronomer. For his French-born great-grandson, see Jean-Dominique Cassini.
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (June 8, 1625 – September 14, 1712) was an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer. Cassini, also known as Gian Domenico Cassini or Jean-Dominique Cassini, was born in Imperia, near Oneglia, at that time in the Republic of Genova.
Cassini was an astronomer at the Panzano Observatory, from 1648 to 1669. He was a professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna and became, in 1671, director of the Paris Observatory. He thoroughly adopted his new country, to the extent that he became interchangeably known as Jean-Dominique Cassini — although that is also the name of his great-grandson, Dominique, comte de Cassini.
Cassini was the first to observe four of Saturn's moons, which he called Sidera Lodoicea, including Iapetus, whose anomalous variations in brightness he correctly ascribed as being due to the presence of dark material on one hemisphere (now called Cassini regio in his honour). In addition he discovered the Cassini Division in the rings of Saturn (1675). He shares with Robert Hooke credit for the discovery
Johannes Müller von Königsberg (6 June 1436 – 6 July 1476), today best known by his Latin toponym Regiomontanus, was a German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic bishop.
He was born in the Franconian village of Unfinden (now part of Königsberg, Bavaria) — not in the more famous East-Prussian Königsberg.
He was also known as Johannes der Königsberger (Johannes of Königsberg). His writings were published under the toponym Joannes de Monte Regio. The name Regiomontanus was first coined by Phillip Melanchthon in 1534, fifty-eight years after his death.
At eleven years of age, he became a student at the university in Leipzig, Saxony. In 1451 he continued his studies at Alma Mater Rudolfina, the university in Vienna, Austria. There he became a pupil and friend of Georg von Peurbach. In 1452 he graduated BA and was awarded his “magister artium” (Master of Arts) at the age of 21 in 1457 and held lectures in optics and ancient literature.
He continued to work with Peuerbach learning and extending the then known areas of astronomy, mathematics and instrument making until Peuerbach's death in 1461.
In 1460 the papal legate Basilios Bessarion came
Theodor Johan Christian Ambders Brorsen (July 29, 1819 – March 31, 1895) was a Danish astronomer best known for his discovery of five comets, including the lost periodic comet 5D/Brorsen and the periodic comet 23P/Brorsen-Metcalf.
Theodor Johan Christian Ambders Brorsen was born in Nordborg on the island Als (South Jutland) as son of the captain Christian August Brorsen (1793-1840) and his wife Annette Margrethe Gerhardine Schumacher (1788-1855). He got his three middle names after the maternal grandfather of his mother, the Nordborg counsel Johan Christian Ambders (1710-1795). After the amicable divorce of his parents in 1822, Brorsen grew up at his mother’s. Her good financial circumstances allowed him to attend the school of the Moravians in Christiansfeld (1826-1829) and then (1830-1839) the Latin school in Flensburg. By request of his mother, Brorsen studied law in Kiel (1839), Berlin (1840), Heidelberg (1841) and again in Kiel (1842), until he decided to follow his inclinations and studied astronomy in Kiel since 1844.
Brorsen worked at the astronomical observatory of Kiel (1846) and of Altona, Hamburg (1847). He rejected a job offer from the astronomical oberservatory
Francis Baily (28 April 1774 – 30 August 1844) was an English astronomer, most famous for his observations of 'Baily's beads' during an eclipse of the Sun.
Baily was born at Newbury in Berkshire in 1774 to Richard Baily. After a tour in the unsettled parts of North America in 1796–1797, his journal of which was edited by Augustus de Morgan in 1856, Baily entered the London Stock Exchange in 1799. The successive publication of Tables for the Purchasing and Renewing of Leases (1802), of The Doctrine of Interest and Annuities (1808), and The Doctrine of Life-Annuities and Assurances (1810), earned him a high reputation as a writer on life-contingencies; he amassed a fortune through diligence and integrity and retired from business in 1825, to devote himself wholly to astronomy.
By 1820, Baily had already taken a leading part in the foundation of the Royal Astronomical Society, and its Gold Medal was awarded him, in 1827, for his preparation of the Society's Catalogue of 2881 stars (Memoirs R. Astr. Soc. ii.). Later, in 1843, he would win the Gold Medal again. He was elected as president of the society for four consecutive two-year terms prior to his death.
The reform of the Nautical
Radhagobinda Chandra (Bengali: রাধাগোবিন্দ চন্দ্র) (July 16, 1878 - April 3, 1975) was a Bangladeshi-Indian astronomer. He was a pioneer of observational astronomy in the region of Bengal, comprising modern-day Bangladesh and West Bengal. He was born in Bangladesh when this country was a part of British India. Radha Gobinda is especially famous for his observation of variable stars. He observed more than 49,700 variable stars and became one of the first international members of American Association of Variable Star Observers.
Radha Gobinda was born in a small village named Bagchar in the district proper of Jessore in Bangladesh on July 16, 1878. His father, Gorachand was the assistant of a local doctor and mother, Padmamukh, was a housewife. His primary education started in Bakchar School. After passing from here he was admitted in Jessore Zilla School at the age of 10. At this time Chandra started observing the stars in the sky by naked eye. But he was not that interested in formal education. Instead his main interest was centered on the mysterious night sky. Due to this lack of attention in formal education he failed to pass Secondary School Certificate (SSC) three times
Edwin Powell Hubble (November 20, 1889 – September 28, 1953) was an American astronomer who played a crucial role in establishing the field of extragalactic astronomy and is generally regarded as one of the most important observational cosmologists of the 20th century. Hubble is generally mistakenly known for "Lemaître's law", discovered by Georges Lemaître, which is known more extensively as "Hubble's law". Hubble is also mistakenly credited with the discovery of the existence of galaxies other than the Milky Way, and with the galactic red shift discovery that the loss in frequency—the redshift—observed in the spectra of light from other galaxies increased in proportion to a particular galaxy's distance from Earth. This relationship became known as "Lemaître's law" or "Hubble's law". These findings fundamentally changed the scientific view of the universe. The existence of other galaxies and red shift was actually first discovered by the American astronomer Vesto Slipher. Using the data collected by Vesto Slipher and his (Hubble's) assistant Milton Humason (a former mule-driver and janitor), Hubble and Humason found a direct relationship between a galaxy's distance and its
Karl Schwarzschild (/'shvarts shĭld/) (October 9, 1873 – May 11, 1916) was a German physicist. He is also the father of astrophysicist Martin Schwarzschild.
He is best known for providing the first exact solution to the Einstein field equations of general relativity, for the limited case of a single spherical non-rotating mass, which he accomplished in 1915, the same year that Einstein first introduced general relativity. The Schwarzschild solution, which makes use of Schwarzschild coordinates and the Schwarzschild metric, leads to the well-known Schwarzschild radius, which is the size of the event horizon of a non-rotating black hole.
Schwarzschild accomplished this triumph while serving in the German army during World War I. He died the following year from pemphigus, a painful autoimmune disease which he developed while at the Russian front.
Asteroid 837 Schwarzschilda is named in his honor.
Schwarzschild was born in Frankfurt am Main to Jewish parents. His father was active in the business community of the city, and the family had ancestors in the city dating back to the sixteenth century. Karl attended a Jewish primary school until 11 years of age. He was something of a child
Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS (born 23 June 1942, York, England) is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010.
Rees was educated at Shrewsbury School and Trinity College, Cambridge (where he attained a First Class degree in mathematics), and completed his doctorate under Dennis Sciama at Cambridge.
After holding post-doctoral research positions in the United Kingdom and the United States, he taught at Sussex University and the University of Cambridge, where he was the Plumian Professor until 1991, and the director of the Institute of Astronomy. From 1992 to 2003, he was Royal Society Research Professor, and from 2003 Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics. He was Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London, in 1975 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1979. He also holds Visiting Professorships at Imperial College London and at the University of Leicester and is an Honorary Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge. He has received honorary degrees from a number of universities
Martin Schwarzschild (May 31, 1912 – April 10, 1997) was a German-born American astronomer. He was the son of famed astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild and the nephew of the Swiss astrophysicist Robert Emden.
Schwarzschild was born in Potsdam into a distinguished German Jewish academic family. In line with a request in his father's will, his family moved to Göttingen in 1916. Schwarzschild studied at the University of Göttingen and took his doctoral examination in December 1936. He left Germany in 1936 for Norway and then the United States. Schwarzschild served in the US army intelligence. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for his wartime service. After returning to the US, he married fellow astronomer Barbara Cherry. In 1947, Martin Schwarzschild joined his lifelong friend, Lyman Spitzer at Princeton University. Spitzer died 10 days before Schwarzschild.
Schwarzschild's work in the fields of stellar structure and stellar evolution led to improved understanding of pulsating stars, differential solar rotation, post-main sequence evolutionary tracks on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (including how stars become red giants), hydrogen shell sources, the helium flash,
Wilhelm Wolff Beer (4 January 1797 – 27 March 1850) was a banker and astronomer from Berlin, Prussia, and the half-brother of Giacomo Meyerbeer.
Beer's fame derives from his hobby, astronomy. He built a private observatory with a 9.5 cm refractor in Tiergarten, Berlin. Together with Johann Heinrich Mädler he produced the first exact map of the Moon (entitled Mappa Selenographica) in 1834-1836, and in 1837 published a description of the Moon (Der Mond nach seinen kosmischen und individuellen Verhältnissen). Both remained the best descriptions of the Moon for many decades.
In 1830, Beer and Mädler created the first globe of the planet Mars. In 1840 they made a map of Mars and calculated its rotation period to be 24 h 37 min 22.7 s, only 0.1 seconds different from the actual period as it is known today.
Beer was multi-talented. In addition to his hobby of astronomy, he helped with the establishment of a railway system in Prussia, and promoted the Jewish community in Berlin. In his last decade of life, he worked as a writer and politician. In 1849 he was elected as an MP for the first chamber of the Prussian parliament.
The crater Beer on Mars is named in Wilhelm Beer's honor and lies
Abraham bar Ḥiyya ha-Nasi (1070 Barcelona, Spain – 1136 or 1145 Narbonne, France) was a Jewish mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, also known as Savasorda (from the Arabic صاحب الشرطة Ṣāḥib al-Shurṭa "Chief of the Police") or Abraham Judaeus. He was born in Barcelona and scholars suspect he travelled to Narbonne where he is thought to have died.
Abraham bar Ḥiyya's most influential work is his Ḥibbūr ha-meshīḥah we-ha-tishboret ("Treatise on Measurement and Calculation"), a Hebrew treatise on Islamic algebra and practical geometry. It was translated in 1145 into Latin by Plato of Tivoli as Liber Embadorum (the same year Robert of Chester translated al-Khwārizmī's Algebra.) It contains the first complete solution of the quadratic equation x - ax + b = 0 known in Europe and influenced the work of Leonardo Fibonacci.
Bar Ḥiyya wrote several more works on mathematics, astronomy and Jewish philosophy.
Abraham bar Hiyya, great-grandson of Hezekiah Gaon is remembered in the world of mathematics for his role in the dissemination of the quadratic equation. Bar Hiyya wrote several scientific works in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, land surveying and calendar calculations.
Allan Rex Sandage ForMemRS (June 18, 1926 – November 13, 2010) was an American astronomer. He was Staff Member Emeritus with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. He is best known for determining the first reasonably accurate value for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe.
Sandage was one of the most influential astronomers of the 20th century. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1948. In 1953 he received a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology; the German-born Wilson Observatory-based astronomer Walter Baade was his advisor. During this time Sandage was a graduate student assistant to cosmologist Edwin Hubble. He continued Hubble's research program after Hubble died in 1953. In 1952 Baade had shaken the astronomical world by announcing his determination of two separate populations of Cepheid variable stars in the Andromeda Galaxy, resulted in a doubling of the estimated age of the universe (from 1.8 to 3.6 billion years). Hubble had posited the earlier value; he had considered only the weaker Population II Cepheid variables as standard candles. Following Baade's pronouncements, Sandage showed that astronomers' previous assumption,
Benjamin Jekhowsky (Russian: Вениамин Павлович Жеховский, born 1881 in Saint-Petersburg (Russia), died in 1975, Encausse-les-Thermes (France)) was a Russian-French astronomer, born in Saint-Petersburg in a noble family of a Russian railroad official. After attending Moscow University, he worked at the Paris Observatory beginning in 1912. Later he worked at the Algiers Observatory (at the time, Algeria was a colony of France), where he became known as a specialist in celestial mechanics. After 1934, he appears to have begun signing scientific articles as Benjamin de Jekhowsky. The Minor Planet Center credits his discoveries under the name "B. Jekhovsky" (with a v). In modern English transliteration, his name would be written as Zhekhovskii or Zhekhovsky. He discovered a number of asteroids, made more than 190 scientific publications and the asteroid 1606 Jekhovsky is named after him.
Guillaume Joseph Hyacinthe Jean-Baptiste Le Gentil de la Galaisière (Coutances, September 12, 1725 – Paris, October 22, 1792) was a French astronomer.
He was born in Coutances and first intended to enter the church before turning to astronomy. He discovered what are now known as the Messier objects M32, M36 and M38, as well as the nebulosity in M8, and he was the first to catalogue the dark nebula sometimes known as Le Gentil 3 (in the constellation Cygnus).
He was part of the international collaborative project organized by Mikhail Lomonosov to measure the distance to the Sun, by observing the transit of Venus at different points on the earth. Edmond Halley had suggested the idea, but it required careful measurements from different places on earth, and the project was launched with more than a hundred observers dispatched to different parts of the globe, for observing the transit coming up in 1761. The French expedition turned out to be particularly unlucky, and perhaps the most unfortunate was Guillaume le Gentil, who set out for Pondicherry, a French colony in India. He set out from Paris in March 1760, and reached Isle de France (now Mauritius) in July. However, war had broken
The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh is an astronomer, writer and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). As a minister, he has been a pioneer and leader in a movement toward multi-cultural/racial congregations, and in developing early Internet-based ministries.
William Maynard Pittendreigh, Jr., was born in Greenwood, South Carolina, February 6, 1954, son of Bill and Earline Pittendreigh. He suffered a severe speech handicap as a child, but was able to overcome the disability through surgery and several years of therapy.
Pittendreigh attended Christ Church Episcopal School, Greenville, South Carolina, and received his BA degree at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Erskine Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Columbia Theological Seminary. He also attended Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he earned a Certification as a Church Business Administrator.
Prior to entering the ministry, Pittendreigh worked as a photojournalist, restaurant manager and as a teacher/counselor in a state prison. As a child he worked as a fashion model for J.C. Penney. As an ordained minister, he has worked as
Michael E. Brown ("Mike"; born 5 June 1965) has been a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 2003. His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), notably the dwarf planet Eris, the only known TNO more massive than Pluto. He has humorously referred to himself as the man who killed Pluto, because he furthered Pluto being downgraded to a dwarf planet in the aftermath of the discovery of Eris and several other trans-Neptunian dwarf-planet candidates. He is also the author of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, published in 2010.
Brown is a Huntsville, Alabama native and graduated from Virgil I. Grissom High School in 1983. He earned his A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 1987, where he was a member of the Princeton Tower Club. He did his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he earned an M.A. degree in astronomy in 1990 and a Ph.D. degree in astronomy in 1994.
Brown is well known in the scientific community for his surveys for distant objects orbiting the Sun. His team has discovered many trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Particularly notable are Eris, a dwarf planet and the
Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (French pronunciation: [yʁbɛ̃ ʒɑ̃ ʒɔzɛf lə vɛʁje]) (11 March 1811 – 23 September 1877) was a French mathematician who specialized in celestial mechanics and is best known for his part in the discovery of Neptune.
Le Verrier was born at Saint-Lô, Manche, France, and studied at École Polytechnique. He briefly studied chemistry under Gay-Lussac, writing papers on the combinations of phosphorus and hydrogen, and phosphorus and oxygen. He then switched to astronomy, particularly celestial mechanics, and accepted a job at the Paris Observatory. He spent most of his professional life there, and eventually became that institution's Director, from 1854 to 1870 and again from 1873 to 1877.
In 1846, Le Verrier became a member of the French Academy of Sciences, and in 1855, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Le Verrier's name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Le Verrier's first work in astronomy was presented to the Académie des Sciences in September 1839, entitled Sur les variations séculaires des orbites des planètes (On the Secular Variations of the Orbits of the Planets). This work addressed the then
Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters (September 19, 1813–July 18, 1890) was a German-American astronomer, and one of the first to discover asteroids.
He was born in Koldenbüttel in Schleswig, then part of Denmark but later part of Germany, and later studied under Carl Friedrich Gauss. Peters spoke many languages and gravitated to Italy at the time of the Italian unification. His association with radical groups brought him to the attention of authorities, and he fled to Ottoman Turkey, where he became a government advisor. At the suggestion of the resident U.S. consul, he emigrated to the United States in 1854.
Working at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (near Utica), he was a prolific discoverer of asteroids, discovering 48 of them, beginning with 72 Feronia in 1861 and ending with 287 Nephthys in 1889.
He was involved in litigation in 1889 with his former assistant Charles A. Borst, and the "Great Star-Catalog Case" Peters v. Borst went before the Supreme Court of New York. The judge sided with Peters, but many astronomers and newspapers sided with Borst. Peters died not long after. After his death, the judgment was ultimately reversed on appeal and a new trial was ordered,
Dmitry Ivanovich Dubyago (Дмитрий Иванович Дубяго in Russian) (September 21 (N.S. October 3), 1849 - October 22, 1918) was a Russian astronomer and expert in theoretical astrophysics, astrometry, and gravimetry. A crater on the Moon is named after Dmitry Dubyago.
General Sir Edward Sabine KCB FRS (14 October 1788 – 26 June 1883) was an Anglo-Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer and the 30th President of the Royal Society.
Two branches of Sabine's work are notable: Determination of the length of the seconds pendulum, a simple pendulum whose time period on the surface of the Earth is two seconds, that is, one second in each direction; and his research on the Earth's magnetic field. He led the effort to establish a system of magnetic observatories in various parts of British territory all over the globe, and much of his life was devoted to their direction, and to analyzing their observations.
While most of his research bears on the subjects just mentioned, other research deals with the birds of Greenland (Sabine's Gull is named for him), ocean temperatures, the Gulf Stream, barometric measurement of heights, arc of the meridian, glacial transport of rocks, the volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands, and various points of meteorology.
Edward Sabine was born on Great Britain Street, Dublin to Joseph Sabine, a member of a prominent Anglo-Irish family whose connections with the country can be traced back to the seventeenth century.
Gustave-Adolphe Hirn (August 21, 1815 - January 14, 1890) was a French physicist, astronomer. mathematician and engineer who made important measurements of the mechanical equivalent of heat and contributions to the early development of thermodynamics. He further applied his science in the practical development of steam engines.
Hirn was born in Logelbach, near Colmar into the prosperous textile-manufacturing family Haussmann. Baron Haussmann was a cousin. At 19, he entered his grandfather's cotton factory as a chemist. Later he worked as an engineer, and began research on mechanics, especially on calorics. He was made a member of the French Academy of Science in 1867; in 1880 founded a meteorological observatory near Colmar; and later devoted himself to astronomy. Hirn was educated in the shop, and his works are marked by much practical criticism of mere academic theory.
Hirn invented the pandynanometer in 1880 and published a theory of the origin and chemical composition of Saturn's rings, exchanging correspondence with Urbain Jean Joseph Leverrier.
He died in Logelbach.
Jan Hendrik Oort ForMemRS (Franeker, 28 April 1900 – Leiden, 5 November 1992) was a prolific Dutch astronomer. He made many important contributions in the field of astronomy and was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. In 1932 he became the first person to discover evidence of dark matter. First proposed by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s, at nearly the same time, Jan Oort in the Netherlands discovered that the density of matter near the Sun was nearly twice what could be explained by the presence of stars and gas alone. The Oort cloud of comets bears his name.
Oort was born in Franeker, Friesland and studied in Groningen with Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn. His Ph.D thesis was titled The stars of high velocity. In 1927 he confirmed Bertil Lindblad's theory that the Milky Way galaxy rotates, by analyzing the movements of stars. In 1935 he became professor at the observatory of the University of Leiden, where Ejnar Hertzsprung was the director. Oort was fascinated by radio waves from the universe. After the Second World War he began work in the new field of radio astronomy, using an old radar antenna from the Germans.
In the 1950s, he raised funds for a new radio
Johann Elert Bode (19 January 1747 – 23 November 1826) was a German astronomer known for his reformulation and popularization of the Titius-Bode law. Bode determined the orbit of Uranus and suggested the planet's name.
Bode was born in Hamburg. As a youth, he suffered from a serious eye disease which particularly damaged his right eye; he continued to have trouble with his eyes throughout his life.
He began his career with the publication of a short work on the solar eclipse of 5 August 1766. This was followed by an elementary treatise on astronomy entitled Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels (1768, 10th ed. 1844), the success of which led to his being invited to Berlin by Johann Heinrich Lambert in 1772 for the purpose of computing ephemerides on an improved plan. There he founded, in 1774, the well-known Astronomisches Jahrbuch, 51 yearly volumes of which he compiled and issued.
He became director of the Berlin observatory in 1786, from which he retired in 1825. There he published the Uranographia in 1801, a celestial atlas that aimed both at scientific accuracy in showing the positions of stars and other astronomical objects, as well as the artistic interpretation of
Maria Mitchell (August 1, 1818 – June 28, 1889) was an American astronomer, who in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as the "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won a gold medal prize for her discovery which was presented to her by King Frederick VII of Denmark. The medal said “Not in vain do we watch the setting and rising of the stars”. Mitchell was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.
One of ten children, she was raised in the Quaker religion but later adopted Unitarianism.
Maria Mitchell was born on August 1, 1818, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and was a first cousin four times removed of Benjamin Franklin. She had nine brothers and sisters. Her parents, William Mitchell and Lydia Coleman Mitchell, were Quakers. Maria Mitchell was born into a community unusual for its time in regard to equality for women. Her parents, like other Quakers, valued education and insisted on giving her the same quality of education that boys received. The Quaker religion taught, among other things, intellectual equality between the sexes. Additionally, Nantucket's importance as a whaling port meant that wives of sailors were left for
Max Tegmark (born 5 May 1967) is a Swedish-American cosmologist. Tegmark is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and belongs to the scientific directorate of the Foundational Questions Institute.
Tegmark was born as Max Shapiro in Sweden, son of Karin Tegmark and Harold S. Shapiro, studied at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and later received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. After having worked at the University of Pennsylvania, he is now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While still in high-school, Max wrote, and sold commercially, together with school buddy Magnus Bodin a word processor written in pure machine code for the Swedish 8-bit computer ABC80.
His research has focused on cosmology, combining theoretical work with new measurements to place constraints on cosmological models and their free parameters, often in collaboration with experimentalists. He has over 200 publications, of which 9 have been cited over 500 times. He has developed data analysis tools based on information theory and applied them to Cosmic Microwave Background experiments such as COBE, QMAP, and WMAP, and to galaxy redshift surveys
Petrus Apianus (16 April 1495 – 21 April 1552), also known as Peter Apian, was a German humanist, known for his works in mathematics, astronomy and cartography.
The lunar crater Apianus and minor planet 19139 Apian are named in his honour.
He was born as Peter Bienewitz (or Bennewitz) in Leisnig in Saxony; his father was a shoemaker. The family was relatively well off, belonging to the middle-class citizenry of Leisnig. Apianus was educated at the Latin school in Rochlitz. From 1516 to 1519 he studied at the University of Leipzig; during this time, he Latinized his name to Apianus (lat. apis means "bee"; "Biene" is the German word for bee).
In 1519, Apianus moved to Vienna and continued his studies at the University of Vienna, which was considered one of the leading universities in geography and mathematics at the time and where Georg Tannstetter taught. When the plague broke out in Vienna in 1521, he completed his studies with a B.A. and moved to Regensburg and then to Landshut.
In Landshut, he produced his Cosmographicus liber (1524), a highly respected work on astronomy and navigation that was to see at least 30 reprints in 14 languages and that remained popular until the end of
Sir William Huggins, OM, KCB, FRS (7 February 1824 – 12 May 1910) was an English astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astronomical spectroscopy.
William Huggins was born at Cornhill, Middlesex in 1824. He married Margaret Lindsay, daughter of John Murray of Dublin, who also had an interest in astronomy and scientific research. She encouraged her husband's photography and helped to systemise their research.
Huggins built a private observatory at 90 Upper Tulse Hill, South London from where he and his wife carried out extensive observations of the spectral emission lines and absorption lines of various celestial objects. On August 29, 1864, Huggins was the first to take the spectrum of a planetary nebula when he analyzed NGC 6543. He was also the first to distinguish between nebulae and galaxies by showing that some (like the Orion Nebula) had pure emission spectra characteristic of gas, while others like the Andromeda Galaxy had spectra characteristic of stars. Huggins was assisted in the analysis of spectra by his neighbour, the chemist William Allen Miller. Huggins was also the first to adopt dry plate photography in imaging astronomical objects.
Huggins was elected a
Andrew Ainslie Common FRS (1841 – 1903) was an English amateur astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astrophotography.
Common was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on August 7, 1841. His father, Thomas Common, a surgeon known for his treatment of cataract, died when Andrew was a child forcing him to go early into the world of work. In the 1860s he teamed up with an uncle in the sanitary engineering firm of Matthew Hall and Company. He married in 1867. In 1890 he retired from Matthew Hall. Andrew Ainslie Common died of heart failure June 2, 1903.
Although Common’s professional career was in the field of sanitary engineering, he is most noted for the work he did as an amateur in the field of astronomy. As a child Andrew showed interest in astronomy. At age 10 his mother borrowed a telescope for him to use from a local doctor, Dr. Bates of Morpeth. He returned to astronomy in his 30’s when he took up experimenting with gelatin plate photography of the moon and plants with 5.5 inch refracting telescope.
In 1876 Common became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. About this time he also moved to Ealing outside London where he would live for the rest of his life operating an
Eise Jeltes Eisinga (Dronrijp, 21 February 1744 – Franeker, 27 August 1828) was a Dutch amateur astronomer who built the Eise Eisinga Planetarium in his house in Franeker, Netherlands. The orrery still exists and is the oldest functioning planetarium in the world.
Eisinga was the son of a wool carder, Jelte Eises from Oosterlittens and mother Hitje Steffens from Winsum. Although he was moderately gifted, he wasn’t allowed to go to school. When he was only 17 years old he published a book about the principles of astronomy. Eisinga became a wool carder in Franeker, Netherlands. Through self-education he mastered mathematics and astronomy, which he also studied at the Franeker Academy. At the age of 24 he married Pietje Jacobs (? – 24 July 1788) and they had three children, one girl and two boys.
Due to a political crisis in 1787, he had to leave Friesland and went to Germany. Later he moved to Visvliet where he worked as a wool comber. He was banned from Friesland for five years and therefore stayed in Visvliet just across the border in Groningen. Meanwhile his wife died, and on 27 May 1792 he married Trijntje Eelkes Sikkema (21 February 1764) in Visvliet. They had one son and two
Amy Mainzer (born 1974) is an American astronomer, specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Principal Investigator for the NEOWISE project to study minor planets and the proposed Near Earth Object Camera space telescope mission. She has appeared a number of times in the History Channel series The Universe. She also appears in the documentary featurette "Stellar Cartography: On Earth" included on the Star Trek Generations home video release (March 2010).
Asteroid (234750) Amymainzer was named after her.
Mainzer received a B.S. in Physics from Stanford University with honors (1996), and holds an M.S. in Astronomy from California Institute of Technology (2000) and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles (2003)
Her research interests include asteroids, brown dwarfs, planetary atmospheres, debris disks, star formation and the design and construction of new ground- and space-based instrumentation.
Dirk Dries David Damiaan, Viscount Frimout (born 21 March 1941 in Poperinge, Belgium) is an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency. He flew aboard NASA Space Shuttle mision STS-45 as a payload specialist, making him the first Belgian in space.
He is married and has two children. Hobbies include running, cycling, walking, traveling, and chess.
Elementary School at Poperinge. Secondary School at Atheneum at Ghent, Belgium. Received an Engineer's degree in electrical engineering at University of Ghent in 1963; a PhD in applied physics from University of Ghent in 1970; post-doctorate at University of Colorado, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (ESRO fellJH
Currently, Frimout is an ESA staff member. He is a senior engineer in the Payload Utilization Department of the Columbus Directorate, responsible for the ESA support to the European experiments on ATLAS-1, and the Microgravity Measurement Assembly to be flown on D2.
He has authored more than 30 publications relating to Atmospheric Physics Experiments, Crew Training for Spacelab, and Microgravity Experiments.
Frimout flew as a payload specialist on STS-45 Atlantis (24 March to 2 April 1992). STS-45 was launched from
Edmond Halley FRS (/ˈɛdmənd ˈhæli/; 8 November 1656 – 14 January 1742) was an English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist who is best known for computing the orbit of the eponymous Halley's Comet. He was the second Astronomer Royal in Britain, following in the footsteps of John Flamsteed.
Halley was born in Haggerston, Shoreditch, England. His father, Edmond Halley Sr., came from a Derbyshire family and was a wealthy soap-maker in London. As a child, Halley was very interested in mathematics. He studied at St Paul's School, and then, from 1673, at The Queen's College, Oxford. While an undergraduate, Halley published papers on the Solar System and sunspots.
On leaving Oxford, in 1676, Halley visited the south Atlantic island of Saint Helena and set up an observatory with a large sextant with telescopic sights to catalogue the stars of the southern hemisphere. While there he observed a transit of Mercury, and realised that a similar transit of Venus could be used to determine the absolute size of the Solar System. He returned to England in May 1678. In the following year he went to Danzig (Gdańsk) on behalf of the Royal Society to help resolve a
Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanːi virˈdʒinjo skjapaˈrɛlːi]) (14 March 1835 - 4 July 1910) was an Italian astronomer and science historian.
He was educated at the University of Turin, and later studied at Berlin Observatory, under Encke. In 1859-1860 he worked in Pulkovo Observatory and then worked for over forty years at Brera Observatory. He was also a senator of the Kingdom of Italy, a member of the Accademia dei Lincei, the Accademia delle Scienze di Torino and the Regio Istituto Lombardo, and is particularly known for his studies of Mars.
Among Schiaparelli's contributions are his telescopic observations of Mars. In his initial observations, he named the "seas" and "continents" of Mars. During the planet's "Great Opposition" of 1877, he observed a dense network of linear structures on the surface of Mars which he called "canali" in Italian, meaning "channels" but the term was mistranslated into English as "canals".
While the term "canals" indicates an artificial construction, the term "channels" connotes that the observed features were natural configurations of the planetary surface. From the incorrect translation into the term "canals", various
Helen Battles Sawyer Hogg, CC (1 August 1905 – 28 January 1993) was a prolific astronomer noted for her research into globular clusters. She is best remembered for her astronomy column, which ran from 1951 until 1981 in the Toronto Star, and her articles on the history of astronomy which ran from 1946 until 1965 in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada under the title “Out of Old Books”.
A 1926 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, after graduation she went on to Harvard Observatory to work with Annie Jump Cannon and Harlow Shapley on star clusters. She received her doctorate in 1931 from Radcliffe College.
She married husband Frank Scott Hogg in 1930, and the two moved to Victoria, British Columbia. There Frank had a job at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Helen was not hired, though, and had to work as his volunteer assistant. In 1935, the couple moved again to Ontario where she took a job at the David Dunlap Observatory. Helen Hogg's research during this time period focused on stars whose spectra contain absorption lines of elements including carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Frank Hogg was director of the observatory from 1946 until his death in 1951.
James Challis FRS (12 December 1803 – 3 December 1882) was an English clergyman, physicist and astronomer. Plumian Professor and director of the Cambridge Observatory, he investigated a wide range of physical phenomena though made few lasting contributions outside astronomy. He is best remembered for his missed opportunity to discover the planet Neptune in 1846.
Challis was born in Braintree, Essex where his father, John Challis, was a stonemason. After attending various local schools, he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1825 as Senior Wrangler and first Smith's prizeman. He was elected a fellow of Trinity in 1826 and was ordained in 1830. He held the benefice of Papworth Everard, Cambridgeshire from the college until 1852. In 1831 Challis married Sarah Copsey, née Chandler, a widow, and consequently resigned his Trinity fellowship. The couple had a son and a daughter.
In 1836, he became director of the Cambridge Observatory and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy, holding the latter post until his death. He lectured in all areas of physics. As examiner for the Smith's prize, he appraised the early work of G. G. Stokes, Arthur Cayley, John Couch
Johann Gottfried Galle (9 June 1812 – 10 July 1910) was a German astronomer at the Berlin Observatory who, on 23 September 1846, with the assistance of student Heinrich Louis d'Arrest, was the first person to view the planet Neptune and know what he was looking at. He used the calculations of Urbain Le Verrier to know where to look.
Born in Radis to Marie Henriette and Johann Gottfried Galle, Galle studied at the University of Berlin from 1830 to 1833. He had started to work as an assistant to Johann Franz Encke in 1835 immediately following the completion of the Berlin observatory. In 1851 he moved to Breslau (today Wrocław) to become professor of astronomy and the director of the local observatory.
Throughout his career he studied comets, and in 1894 (with the help of his son Andreas Galle) he published a list with 414 comets. He himself had previously discovered three comets in the short span from 2 December 1839 to 6 March 1840. He died in Potsdam at age 98.
Two craters, one on the Moon and the "happy face" one on Mars, the asteroid 2097 Galle, and a ring of Neptune have been named in his honor.
Galle's Ph.D. thesis, finished in the year of 1845, was a reduction and critical
Tycho Brahe (14 December 1546 – 24 October 1601), born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. He was born in Scania, then part of Denmark, now part of modern-day Sweden. Tycho was well known in his lifetime as an astronomer and alchemist.
His work as an astronomer was remarkably accurate for his time. Most importantly, it had a lasting impact which remains to this day.
In his De nova stella (On the new star) of 1573, he refuted the Aristotelian belief in an unchanging celestial realm. His precise measurements indicated that "new stars" (stella novae, now known as supernovae), in particular that of 1572, lacked the parallax expected in sub-lunar phenomena, and were therefore not "atmospheric" tail-less comets as previously believed, but occurred above the atmosphere and moon. Using similar measurements he showed that comets were also not atmospheric phenomena, as previously thought, and must pass through the supposed "immutable" celestial spheres.
As an astronomer, Tycho worked to combine what he saw as the geometrical benefits of the Copernican system with the philosophical benefits of the
Benjamin Apthorp Gould (September 27, 1824 – November 26, 1896) was a pioneering American astronomer. He is notable for creating the Astronomical Journal, discovering the Gould Belt, and for founding of the Argentine National Observatory and the Argentine National Weather Service.
He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Benjamin Apthorp Gould, the principal of Boston Latin School, which he also attended. His mother was Lucretia Dana Goddard. The poet Hannah Flagg Gould was his aunt. After going on to Harvard College and graduating in 1844, he studied mathematics and astronomy under C. F. Gauss at Göttingen, Germany, during which time he published approximately 20 papers on the observation and motion of comets and asteroids. Following completion of his Ph.D. (he was the first American to receive this degree in astronomy) he toured European observatories asking for advice on what could be done to further astronomy as a professional science in the U.S.A. The main advice he received was to start a professional journal modeled after what was then the world's leading astronomical publication, the Astronomische Nachrichten.
Gould returned to America in 1848 and from 1852 to 1867 was
John Lowry Dobson (born September 14, 1915) is a popularizer of amateur astronomy. He is most notable for being the promoter of a design for a large, portable, low-cost Newtonian reflector telescope that bears his name, the Dobsonian telescope. The design is considered revolutionary since it allowed amateur astronomers to build fairly large telescopes. He is less known for his efforts to promote awareness of astronomy (and his unorthodox views of cosmology) through public lectures including his performances of "sidewalk astronomy." John Dobson is also the co-founder of the amateur astronomical group, the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers.
John Dobson was born in Beijing, China. His maternal grandfather founded Peking University, his mother was a musician, and his father taught zoology at the University. He and his parents moved to San Francisco, California in 1927. His father accepted a teaching position at Lowell High School and taught there until the 1950s. Dobson spent 23 years in a monastery, after which he became more active in promoting astronomy and his own nonstandard cosmology theories.
As a teen John Dobson became a “belligerent” atheist. He said: “I could see that these
John Russell Hind FRS (May 12, 1823 – December 23, 1895) was an English astronomer.
John Russell Hind was born in 1823 in Nottingham, the son of lace manufacturer John Hind, and was educated at Nottingham High School. At age 17 he went to London to serve an apprenticeship as a civil engineer, but through the help of Charles Wheatstone he left engineering to accept a position at the Royal Greenwich Observatory under George Biddell Airy. Hind remained there from 1840 to 1844, at which time he succeeded W. R. Dawes as director of the private observatory of George Bishop. In 1853 Hind became Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac, a position he held until 1891.
Hind is notable for being one of the early discoverers of asteroids. He also discovered and observed the variable stars R Leporis (also known as Hind's Crimson Star), U Geminorum, and T Tauri (also called Hind's Variable Nebula), and discovered the variability of μ Cephei. Hind discovered Nova Ophiuchi 1848 (V841 Ophiuchi), the first nova of modern times (since the supernova SN 1604).
Hind's naming of the asteroid 12 Victoria caused some controversy. At the time, asteroids were not supposed to be named after living persons. Hind
Alan Harvey Guth (born February 27, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Guth has researched elementary particle theory (and how particle theory is applicable to the early universe). Currently serving as Victor Weisskopf Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is the originator of the inflationary universe theory.
He graduated from MIT in 1968 in physics and stayed to receive a master's and a doctorate, also in physics.
As a junior particle physicist, Guth first developed the idea of cosmic inflation in 1979 at Cornell and gave his first seminar on the subject in January 1980. Moving on to Stanford University Guth formally proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in 1981, the idea that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion that was driven by a positive vacuum energy density (negative vacuum pressure). The results of the WMAP mission in 2006 made the case for cosmic inflation very compelling.
Alan Guth was born on February 27, 1947 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. After his junior year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he enrolled in a five-year program where he could get his bachelor’s and
Carl Edward Sagan ( /ˈseɪɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell University where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He advocated scientifically skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
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. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. Sagan wrote the novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name.
Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York,. His father, Sam Sagan, was an immigrant garment worker from Russia. Carl's mother, Rachel Molly Gruber, was a housewife from New York. Carl was named in honor of Rachel's biological mother, Chaiya Clara, in Sagan's words, "the mother she never
Pierre Henri Puiseux (July 20, 1855 – September 28, 1928) was a French astronomer.
Born in Paris, son of Victor Puiseux, he was educated at the École Normale Supérieure before starting work as an astronomer at the Paris Observatory in 1885.
He worked on the aberration of light, asteroids, lunar dynamics and, in collaboration with Maurice Loewy, the ill-fated Carte du Ciel project. Puiseux created a photographic atlas of the Moon based on 6000 photographs taken by him and Loewy. In 1896 was he awarded the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences, and became a member of the academy in 1912.
The crater Puiseux on the Moon is named after him.
Andrea Mia Ghez (born June 16, 1965) is an American astronomer and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. She received a BS in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology in 1992. In 2004, Discover magazine listed Ghez as one of the top 20 scientists in the United States who have shown a high degree of understanding in their respective fields.
Her current research involves using high spatial resolution imaging techniques, such as the adaptive optics system at the Keck telescopes, to study star-forming regions and the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy known as Sagittarius A*. She uses the kinematics of stars near the center of the galaxy as a probe to investigate this region. The high resolution of the Keck telescopes gave a significant improvement over the first major study of galactic center kinematics by Reinhard Genzel's group.
In 2004, Ghez was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She's appeared in a long list of notable media presentations. The documentaries have been produced by organizations such as BBC, Discovery Channel, and The History
Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 [NS: 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727]) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived." His monograph Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, lays the foundations for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws, by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the Scientific Revolution.
The Principia is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written, due, independently, to the specific physical laws the work successfully described, and for the style of the work, which assisted in setting standards for scientific publication
Jean Baptiste Joseph, chevalier Delambre (19 September 1749 – 19 August 1822) was a French mathematician and astronomer. He was also director of the Paris Observatory, and author of well-known books on the history of astronomy from ancient times to the 18th century.
After a childhood fever, he suffered from very sensitive eyes, and believed that he would soon go blind. For fear of losing his ability to read, he devoured any available book available and trained his memory. He thus immersed himself in Greek and Latin literature, acquired the ability to recall entire pages verbatim weeks after reading them, became fluent in Italian, English and German and even published Règles et méthodes faciles pour apprendre la langue anglaise (Easy rules and methods for learning English).
Delambre's career in astronomy rose quickly enough that in 1788, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1790, in order to establish a universally accepted foundation for the definition of measures, the National Constituent Assembly asked the French Academy of Sciences to introduce a new unit of measurement. The academics decided on the metre, defined as 1 / 10,000,000 of the
Joseph Fraunhofer, ennobled in 1824 as Ritter von Fraunhofer (6 March 1787 – 7 June 1826) was a German optician. He is known for the discovery of the dark absorption lines known as Fraunhofer lines in the Sun's spectrum, and for making excellent optical glass and achromatic telescope objectives.
Fraunhofer was born in Straubing, Bavaria to Franz Xaver Fraunhofer and Maria Anna Frohlich. He became an orphan at the age of 11, and he started working as an apprentice to a harsh glassmaker named Philipp Anton Weichelsberger. In 1801, the workshop in which he was working collapsed and he was buried in the rubble. The rescue operation was led by Maximilian IV Joseph, Prince Elector of Bavaria (the future Maximilian I Joseph). The prince entered Fraunhofer's life, providing him with books and forcing his employer to allow the young Fraunhofer time to study.
Joseph Utzschneider was also at the site of the disaster, a fact which turned out to be important. With the money given to him by the Prince upon his rescue and the support he received from Utzschneider, Fraunhofer was able to continue his education alongside his practical training. In 1806 Utzscheider and Georg von Reichenbach then
Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (Arabic: عَبْدَالله مُحَمَّد بِن مُوسَى اَلْخْوَارِزْمِي), earlier transliterated as Algoritmi or Algaurizin, (c. 780, Khwārizm – c. 850) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer, a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. The word al-Khwarizmi is pronounced in classical Arabic as Al-Khwarithmi hence the Latin transliteration.
In the twelfth century, Latin translations of his work on the Indian numerals introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. His Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations in Arabic. In Renaissance Europe, he was considered the original inventor of algebra, although we now know that his work is based on older Indian or Greek sources. He revised Ptolemy's Geography and wrote on astronomy and astrology.
Some words reflect the importance of al-Khwarizmi's contributions to mathematics. "Algebra" is derived from al-jabr, one of the two operations he used to solve quadratic equations. Algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latin form of his name. His name is also the origin of
Percival Lawrence Lowell (March 13, 1855 – November 12, 1916) was an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars, founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death. The choice of the name Pluto and its symbol were partly influenced by his initials PL.
Percival Lowell was a descendant of the Boston Lowell family. His brother A. Lawrence was the president of Harvard University, and his sister Amy was an imagist poet, critic, and publisher.
Percival graduated from the Noble and Greenough School in 1872 and Harvard University in 1876 with distinction in mathematics. At his college graduation, he gave a speech, considered very advanced for its time, on the "Nebular Hypothesis." He was later awarded honorary degrees from Amherst College and Clark University.
In the 1880s, Lowell traveled extensively in the Far East. In August 1883, he served as a foreign secretary and counsellor for a special Korean diplomatic mission to the United States. He also spent significant periods of time in Japan, writing books on Japanese
Petrus Plancius (1552 – May 15, 1622) was a Dutch astronomer, cartographer and clergyman. He was born as Pieter Platevoet in Dranouter, now in Heuvelland, West Flanders. He studied theology in Germany and England. At the age of 24 he became a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church.
Because of fear for religious prosecution by the Inquisition he fled from Brussels to Amsterdam after the city fell into Spanish hands in 1585. There he became interested in navigation and cartography and, being fortunate enough to have access to nautical charts recently brought from Portugal, he was soon recognized as an expert on the shipping routes to India. He strongly believed in the idea of a North East passage through North America until the failure of Willem Barentsz's third voyage in 1597 seemed to preclude the possibility of such a route.
He was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company for which he drew over 100 maps.
In 1592 he published his best known world map titled "Nova et exacta Terrarum Tabula geographica et hydrographica". Apart from maps, he published journals and navigational guides and developed a new method for determining longitude. He also introduced the Mercator
Edward Arthur Milne FRS (14 February 1896 – 21 September 1950) was a British astrophysicist and mathematician.
Milne was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England. He attended Hymers College and from there he won an open scholarship in mathematics and natural science to study at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1914, gaining the largest number of marks which had ever been awarded in the examination. He was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1919–1925, being assistant director of the solar physics observatory, 1920–1924, mathematical lecturer at Trinity, 1924–1925, and university lecturer in astrophysics, 1922–1925. He was Beyer professor of applied mathematics, Victoria University of Manchester, 1924–1928, before his appointment as Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and to a fellowship at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1928. Milne's earlier work was in mathematical astrophysics. From 1932 he also worked on the problem of the "expanding universe" and in Relativity, Gravitation, and World-Structure (1935), proposed an alternative to Albert Einstein's general relativity theory. His later work, concerned with the interior structure of stars, aroused controversy. Milne was president of the Royal
Christopher John Lintott (born 1980, Torbay) is an English astrophysicist involved in a number of popular science projects aimed at bringing astronomical science to a wider audience. He is the co-presenter of Patrick Moore's BBC series The Sky at Night and a co-author of the book Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe with Patrick Moore and Queen guitarist Brian May.
He attended Torquay Boys' Grammar School in Devon, whilst living in Churston Ferrers. Whilst at school, in 1999, he won a $500 Earth and Space Sciences award and the Priscilla and Bart Bok Honorable Mention Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for an article on Dust Around Young Stellar Objects. This came from a six week project at the University of Hertfordshire funded by a Nuffield bursary. Lintott read for a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge where he was a student of Magdalene College. He received a PhD in astrophysics from University College London, where his thesis was on the subject of star formation. He is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has served as a junior research fellow at Somerville College, as the Director of Citizen Science at the
Jean Mueller (born 1950) is an American astronomer.
Working at Palomar Observatory, she has discovered a total of 15 comets, including 7 periodic comets 120P/Mueller, 131P/Mueller, 136P/Mueller, 149P/Mueller, 173P/Mueller, 188P/LINEAR-Mueller, 190P/Mueller, and 8 non-periodic comets.
She has also discovered 10 asteroids, including the Apollo asteroids 4257 Ubasti, (9162) Kwiila, and (12711) Tukmit and the Amor asteroid 6569 Ondaatje, and is the co-discoverer of two asteroids, 4558 Janesick and 11500 Tomaiyowit.
In 1983 Jean became the first woman to operate the historic 100-inch (2.5 m) telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, and was the first woman hired as a telescope operator at Palomar Observatory in 1985.
The Palomar Sky Survey II (POSS II) got underway in August 1985, with the first of the 14" photographic glass plates being pulled off the Palomar 48-inch (1.2 m) Schmidt Camera (now known as The Samuel Oschin telescope). Jean Mueller was hired as the 48-inch (1.2 m) Night Assistant in July of that year, and worked in the capacity as Observer/Telescope Operator for the duration. Jean took over 5500 photographic plates, and had the honor of setting the telescope and removing the
Robert Thorburn Ayton Innes (10 November 1861 – 13 March 1933) was a Scottish-South African astronomer best known for discovering Proxima Centauri in 1915, and numerous binary stars. He was also the first astronomer to have seen the Great January Comet of 1910, on 12 January. He was the founding director of a meteorological station in Johannesburg, which he converted to an astronomical observatory and renamed to Union Observatory. He was the first Union Astronomer. Innes House, designed by Herbert Baker, built as his residence at the observatory, today houses the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers.
He was born on 10 November 1861 in Edinburgh to John and Elizabeth (née Ayton) Innes. He had 11 younger siblings.
A self-taught astronomer, he went to Australia at an early age and made his living as a wine merchant in Sydney, where, using a home made 12-inch reflecting telescope, he discovered several double stars new to astronomy. He also published some papers on perturbations in Mars' and Venus' orbits.
Despite having had no formal training in astronomy, he was invited to the Cape Observatory by the astronomer royal Sir David Gill in 1894 and appointed in 1896. In 1903 he
Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (French: [kətlɛ]; 22 February 1796 – 17 February 1874) was a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist. He founded and directed the Brussels Observatory and was influential in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences. His name is sometimes spelled with an accent as Quételet.
Adolphe was born in Ghent (which at that time was a part of the newborn French Republic), the son of François-Augustin-Jacques-Henri Quetelet, a Frenchman and Anne Françoise Vandervelde, a Belgian. His father François was born at Ham, in Picardy, and being of a somewhat adventurous spirit, crossed the English Channel and became a British citizen and the secretary of a Scottish nobleman. In this capacity he travelled with his employer on the Continent, particularly spending time in Italy. At aged about 31, he settled in Ghent and was employed by the city, where Adolphe was born the fifth of nine children, several of whom died in childhood.
Francois died when Adolphe was only seven years old. Adolphe studied at the Ghent lycée, where he started teaching mathematics in 1815 at the age of 19. In 1819 he moved to the Athenaeum in Brussels and in
Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Yaḥyā al-Naqqāsh al-Zarqālī, also known as Al-Zarqali or Ibn Zarqala (1029–1087), was a Muslim instrument maker, astrologer, and one of the leading astronomers of his time. Although his name is conventionally given as al-Zarqālī, it is probable that the correct form was al-Zarqālluh. In Latin he is referred to as Arzachel or Arsechieles, a modified form of Arzachel, meaning 'the engraver'. He lived in Toledo in Castile, Al-Andalus (now Spain), moving to Córdoba later in his life. His works inspired a generation of Islamic astronomers in Andalusia.
The crater Arzachel on the Moon is named after him.
Al-Zarqālī was born to a family of Visigoth converts to Islam in a village near the outskirts of Toledo, then a famous capital of the Taifa of Toledo, known for its co-existence between Muslims and Christians.
He was trained as a metalsmith and due to his skills he was nicknamed Al-Nekkach (in Andalusian Arabic "the engraver of metals"). His Latinized name, 'Arzachel' is formed from the Arabic al-Zarqali al-Naqqash, meaning 'the engraver'.
He was particularly talented in Geometry and Astronomy. He is known to have taught and visited Córdoba on various occasions his
Edward Walter Maunder (12 April 1851 – 21 March 1928) was an English astronomer best remembered for his study of sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle that led to his identification of the period from 1645 to 1715 that is now known as the Maunder Minimum.
Edward Maunder was born in 1851, in London, the youngest child of a minister of the Wesleyan Society. He attended King's College London but never graduated. He took a job in a London bank to finance his studies.
Edward Maunder married twice. In 1873 Edward Maunder returned to the Royal Observatory, taking a position as a spectroscopic assistant. Shortly after, in 1875, he married Edith Hannah Bustin, who gave birth to six children. Following the death of Edith Hannah in 1888, he met Annie Scott Dill Russell (1868–1947) in 1890, a mathematician with whom he collaborated for the remainder of his life. In 1895 Maunder and Russell married. In 1916 Annie Maunder became one of the first women accepted by the Royal Astronomical Society.
Maunder was also an esteemed biblical scholar.
Part of Maunder's job at the Observatory involved photographing and measuring sunspots, and in doing so he observed that the solar latitudes at which
Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers (/ˈoʊlbərz/; October 11, 1758 – March 2, 1840) was a German physician and astronomer.
Olbers was born in Arbergen, today part of Bremen, and studied to be a physician at Göttingen. After his graduation in 1780, he began practicing medicine in Bremen. At night he dedicated his time to astronomical observation, making the upper story of his home into an observatory. He also devised the first satisfactory method of calculating cometary orbits.
On March 28, 1802, Olbers discovered and named the asteroid Pallas. Five years later, on March 29, 1807, he discovered the asteroid Vesta, which he allowed Carl Friedrich Gauss to name. As the word "asteroid" was not yet coined, the literature of the time referred to these minor planets as planets in their own right. He proposed that the asteroid belt, where these objects lay, was the remnants of a planet that had been destroyed. The current view of most scientists is that tidal effects from the planet Jupiter disrupted the planet-formation process in the asteroid belt.
On March 6, 1815, Olbers also discovered a periodic comet, now named after him (formally designated 13P/Olbers).
Olbers was deputed by his fellow
Jacques Cassini (18 February 1677 – 16 April 1756) was a French astronomer, son of the famous Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory. Admitted at the age of seventeen to membership of the French Academy of Sciences, he was elected in 1696 a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and became maître des comptes in 1706. Having succeeded to his father's position at the observatory in 1712, he measured in 1713 the arc of the meridian from Dunkirk to Perpignan, and published the results in a volume entitled Traité de la grandeur et de la figure de la terre (1720). He also wrote Eléments d'astronomie (1740), and died at Thury, near Clermont.
He published the first tables of the satellites of Saturn in 1716.
Sir James Hopwood Jeans OM FRS MA DSc ScD LLD (11 September 1877 – 16 September 1946) was an English physicist, astronomer and mathematician.
Born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, Jeans was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood, Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell and Trinity College, Cambridge, he finished Second Wrangler in the university in the Mathematical Tripos of 1898. He taught at Cambridge, but went to Princeton University in 1904 as a professor of applied mathematics. He returned to Cambridge in 1910.
He made important contributions in many areas of physics, including quantum theory, the theory of radiation and stellar evolution. His analysis of rotating bodies led him to conclude that Laplace's theory that the solar system formed from a single cloud of gas was incorrect, proposing instead that the planets condensed from material drawn out of the sun by a hypothetical catastrophic near-collision with a passing star. This theory is not accepted today.
Jeans, along with Arthur Eddington, is a founder of British cosmology. In 1928 Jeans was the first to conjecture a steady state cosmology based on a hypothesized continuous creation of matter in the universe. This theory
Johannes Hevelius ((1611-01-28)28 January 1611 – 28 January 1687) was a councilor and mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk), Pomeranian Voivodeship, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. As an astronomer he gained a reputation as "the founder of lunar topography" and described ten new constellations, seven of which are still recognized by astronomers.
According to the Polish Academy of Sciences (1975) the origin of the name goes back to the surname Hawke, a historical alternative spelling for the English word hawk, which changed into Hawelke or Hawelecke In Poland he is known as Jan Heweliusz, older spelling includes also Jan Hewelijusz and Jan Hefel. According to Patrick Moore "Hevelius" is a Latinised version of the name Hewelcke other versions of the name include Hewel, Hevel, Hevelke or Hoefel, Höwelcke, Höfelcke. According to Feliks Bentkowski (1814) during his early years he also signed as Hoefelius, B.G. Teubner (1903) reports, next to the usage of the Latinised version, Hevelius' signature as Johannes Höffelius Dantiscanus in 1631 and Hans Höwelcke in 1639.
Hevelius' father was Abraham Hewelke (1576–1649), his mother Kordula Hecker (1576–1655). They were German-speaking Lutherans,
Robert Paul "Bob" Kraft (born June 16, 1927) is an American astronomer. He has done pioneering work on Cepheid variables, stellar rotation, novae, and the chemical evolution of the Milky Way.
Kraft served as director of the Lick Observatory (1981–1991), president of the American Astronomical Society (1974–1976), and president of the International Astronomical Union (1997–2000).
He received his B.S. at the University of Washington, M.S. in mathematics at the University of Washington, and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Robert Sutton Harrington (October 21, 1942 – January 23, 1993) was an American astronomer who worked at the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). Harrington was born near Newport News, Virginia. His father was an archaeologist. He was married to Betty-Jean Maycock in 1976, with two daughters, Amy and Ann.
Harrington worked at the USNO. Another astronomer there, James W. Christy, consulted with him after discovering bulges in the images of Pluto, which turned out to be Pluto's satellite Charon. For this reason, some consider Harrington to be a co-discoverer of Charon, although Christy usually gets sole credit. By the laws of physics, it is easy to determine the mass of a binary system based on its orbital period, so Harrington was the first to calculate the mass of the Pluto-Charon system, which was lower than even the lowest previous estimates of Pluto's mass.
Harrington became a believer in the existence of a Planet X beyond Pluto and undertook searches for it, with positive results coming from the IRAD probe in 1983. Harrington collaborated initially with T. C. (Tom) Van Flandern. They were both "courted" by Zecharia Sitchin and his followers who believe in a planet Nibiru or
Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming (May 15, 1857 – May 21, 1911) was a Scottish astronomer. During her career, she helped develop a common designation system for stars and catalogued thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena. Fleming is especially noted for her discovery of the Horsehead nebula in 1888.
She worked as a maid in the home of Professor Edward Charles Pickering. Pickering became frustrated with his male assistants at the Harvard College Observatory and, legend has it, famously declared his maid could do a better job.
In 1881, Pickering hired Fleming to do clerical work at the observatory. While there, she devised and helped implement a system of assigning stars a letter according to how much hydrogen could be observed in their spectra. Stars classified as A had the most hydrogen, B the next most, and so on. Later, Annie Jump Cannon would improve upon this work to develop a simpler classification system based on temperature.
Fleming contributed to the cataloguing of stars that would be published as the Henry Draper Catalogue. In nine years, she catalogued more than 10,000 stars. During her work, she discovered 59 gaseous nebulae, over 310 variable stars, and 10
Heinrich Christian Schumacher (September 3, 1780 – December 28, 1850) was a German-Danish astronomer.
He was born at Bramstedt, in Holstein, and studied at Kiel, Jena, Copenhagen, and Göttingen. In 1810, he became adjunct professor of astronomy in Copenhagen. He directed the Mannheim observatory from 1813 to 1815, and then became professor of astronomy in Copenhagen.
From 1817 he directed the triangulation of Holstein, to which a few years later was added a complete geodetic survey of Denmark (finished after his death). For the sake of the survey, an observatory was established at Altona, and Schumacher resided there permanently. He was chiefly occupied with the publication of Ephemerides (11 parts, 1822–1832) and of the journal Astronomische Nachrichten (founded by himself in 1821 and still being published), of which he edited thirty-one volumes.
In 1827 he was elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1829 he won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. His portrait now hangs in the Development Office of the Royal Society.
His son, Richard Schumacher (1827–1902), was his assistant from 1844 to 1850 at the conservatory at Altona. Having become
Andronicus of Cyrrhus (Greek:Ανδρόνικος Κυρρήστου) or Andronicus Cyrrhestes,son of Hermias, was a Greek astronomer who flourished about 100 BC.
He built a horologion at Athens, the so-called Tower of the Winds, a considerable portion of which still exists. It is octagonal, with figures carved on each side, representing the eight principal winds. In antiquity a bronze figure of Triton on the summit, with a rod in his hand, turned round by the wind, pointed to the quarter from which it blew. From this model is derived the custom of placing weathercocks on steeples.
Erwin Finlay-Freundlich (May 29, 1885 – July 24, 1964) was a German astronomer, a pupil of Felix Klein. He was born in Biebrich, Germany to Friedrich Freundlich and Ellen Finlayson. Freundlich was a working associate of Albert Einstein and introduced experiments for which the general theory of relativity could be tested by astronomical observations based on the gravitational redshift.
After finishing his thesis with Felix Klein at the University of Göttingen in 1910, he became assistant at the Observatory in Berlin, where he became associated with Einstein. During a solar eclipse expedition in 1914 to verify general relativity, World War I broke out and he was interned in Russia. After the war, he was engaged in construction of a solar observatory in Potsdam, the Einsteinturm, and he was director of the Einstein-Institut. In 1933 Hitler came to power and Freundlich was forced to leave Germany; he had a Jewish grandmother and his wife was Jewish. He was appointed professor at the University of Istanbul, which was reformed by Kemal Atatürk with the help of many German scholars. In 1937 he left Istanbul to take up the post of professor of astronomy at the Charles University of Prague,
Jayant Vishnu Narlikar (born July 19, 1938) (Marathi: जयंत विष्णू नारळीकर) is an Indian astrophysicist.
Narlikar is a proponent of steady state cosmology. He developed with Sir Fred Hoyle the conformal gravity theory, commonly known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory. It synthesizes Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Mach's Principle. It proposes that the inertial mass of a particle is a function of the masses of all other particles, multiplied by a coupling constant, which is a function of cosmic epoch. In cosmologies based on this theory, the gravitational constant G decreases strongly with time.
Narlikar was born in Kolhapur, India on July 19, 1938. His father, Vishnu Vasudev Narlikar, was a mathematician who served as a professor and later as the Head of the Department of Mathematics at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Jayant's mother, Sumati Narlikar, was a scholar of Sanskrit language. Jayant studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya Banaras(till class 12) and Banaras Hindu University(12th Onwards) campus, Varanasi.
Narlikar received his Bachelor of Science degree from Banaras Hindu University in 1957. He then began his studies at Cambridge University in England, where he received a
John Pond FRS (1767 – 7 September 1836) was a renowned English astronomer who became the sixth Astronomer Royal, serving from 1811 to 1835.
Pond was born in London and, although the year of his birth is known, the records indicating the day and month have been lost to posterity. Pond's father made a fortune as a London merchant, enabling young John to enter Trinity College, Cambridge in 1784 at the age of sixteen. He took no degree, however, as his course was being interrupted by severe pulmonary attacks which compelled a long residence abroad. He was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1794, but his poor health prompted him to withdraw.
In 1800 Pond settled at Westbury near Bristol, and began to determine star-places with a fine altitude and azimuth circle of 2+⁄2 feet (760 mm) in diameter by Edward Troughton. His demonstration in 1806 of a change of form in the Greenwich mural quadrant led to the introduction of astronomical circles at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and to his own appointment as its head. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 26 February 1807. That same year he married and set up residence in London.
In 1811 Pond succeeded Nevil Maskelyne as Astronomer
Leo Anton Karl de Ball (November 23, 1853 – December 12, 1916) was a German-Austrian astronomer. He is credited by the Minor Planet Center as "K. de Ball" for his (sole) asteroid discovery, but seems to be best known as Leo de Ball.
He was born at Lobberich in the Rhineland, in Germany. He studied in Bonn and Berlin, receiving his doctorate in 1877. He worked at observatories in Gotha and at Bothkamp, discovering the asteroid 230 Athamantis at the latter in 1882. He then worked at Ougrée Observatory in Ougrée, Belgium, where he analyzed the mass of Saturn and worked on celestial mechanics and measurements of parallax and of double stars.
From 1891 until his death in 1916 he was director of the Kuffner observatory in Vienna. Among other things, he measured the parallax of a number of stars and compiled data for a star catalog.
Antonie (Anton) Pannekoek (2 January 1873, Vaassen, Gelderland – 28 April 1960, Wageningen) was a Dutch astronomer, Marxist theorist, and social revolutionary. He was one of the main theorists of council communism (Dutch: radencommunisme).
Pannekoek studied mathematics and physics in Leiden from 1891. Even before he went to college he was interested in astronomy and studied the variability of Polaris. He published his first article, On the Necessity of Further Researches on the Milky Way, as a student. Some years after he had finished his study he started work at the Leidse Sterrewacht (Leiden observatory), where he wrote his thesis.
After reading Edward Bellamy's Equality, Pannekoek became a convinced socialist and started studying Karl Marx's theories. Soon Pannekoek became a well-known Marxist writer, writing for both Dutch and German magazines. Dissatisfaction with his job at the observatory led him to move to Berlin, where he became a lecturer at the school funded by the Social Democratic Party of Germany. His radical opinions soon got him in trouble with both the German government and the unions.
He was on holiday in the Netherlands when the First World War broke out.
Bernard Ferdinand Lyot (27 February 1897 in Paris – 2 April 1952 in Cairo) was a French astronomer.
His interest in astronomy started in 1914. He soon acquired a 4-inch (100 mm) telescope and soon upgraded to a 6-inch (150 mm). From graduation in 1918 until 1929, he worked as a demonstrator at the École Polytechnique. He studied engineering, physics, and chemistry at the University of Paris, and from 1920 until his death he worked for the Meudon Observatory. In 1930 he earned the title of Joint Astronomer of the Observatory. After gaining the title, he earned a reputation of being an expert of polarized and monochromatic light. Throughout the 1930s, he labored to perfect the coronagraph, which he invented to observe the corona without having to wait for a solar eclipse. In 1938, he showed a movie of the corona in action to the International Astronomical Union. In 1939, he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He became Chief Astronomer at the Meudon Observatory in 1943 and received the Bruce Medal in 1947. He suffered a heart attack while returning from an eclipse expedition in Sudan and died on 2 April 1952, at the age of 55.
Named for him
Carl Vilhelm Ludwig Charlier (April 1, 1862, Östersund – November 5, 1934, Lund) was a Swedish astronomer. His parents were Emmerich Emanuel and Aurora Kristina (née Hollstein) Charlier.
He received his Ph.D. from Uppsala University in 1887, later worked there and at the Stockholm Observatory and was Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Observatory at Lund University from 1897.
He made extensive statistical studies of the stars in our galaxy and their positions and motions, and tried to develop a model of the galaxy based on this. He proposed the siriometer as a unit of stellar distance.
Charlier was also interested in pure statistics and played a role in the development of statistics in Swedish academia. Several of his pupils became statisticians, working at universities and in government and companies.
Related to his work on galactic structure, he also developed a cosmological theory based on the work of Johann Heinrich Lambert. In the resulting Lambert-Charlier Hierarchical Cosmology, increasingly large areas of space contain decreasing densities of matter, the principle being introduced to avoid the observational inconsistency that would otherwise emerge from Olbers
Johann Georg Palitzsch (June 11, 1723 – February 21, 1788) was a German astronomer who became famous for recovering Comet 1P/Halley (better known as Halley's Comet or Comet Halley) on Christmas Day, 1758. The periodic nature of this comet had been deduced by its namesake Edmond Halley in 1705, but Halley had died before seeing if his prediction would come true.
Raised to become a successful farmer under a strict stepfather, Palitzsch secretly studied as much astronomy as he could from the books he could afford. He learned contemporary astronomy from the book "Vorhof der Sternwissenschaft" ("The Forecourt of Astronomy") by Christian Pescheck. He learned Latin and, at age 21, inherited the farm, which allowed him to construct his own botanical garden, library, laboratory, and museum. He received support from various benefactors, including the future King. But the wars between Prussia and Austria interrupted his ambitions.
Upon his death on February 21, 1788 Palitzsch left behind a library of 3518 books, partly consisting of handwritten copies he had created from scientific works too expensive for him to purchase.
A crater and a vallis (valley) on the Moon are named after him.
Robert Grant Aitken (December 31, 1864 – October 29, 1951) was an American astronomer.
Born in Jackson, California, he attended Williams College in Massachusetts and graduated with an undergraduate degree in 1887. From 1887–1891, he worked as a mathematics instructor at Livermore, California, then received his M.A. from Williams College in 1892. He became a professor of mathematics at the College of the Pacific, another liberal arts school. He was offered an assistant astronomer position at Lick Observatory in California in 1895.
He began a systematically study of double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another. From 1899, in collaboration with W. J. Hussey, he methodically created a very large catalog of such stars. This ongoing work was published in Lick Observatory bulletins. In 1905, Hussey left and Aitken pressed on with the survey alone, and by 1915, he had discovered roughly 3,100 new binary stars, with an additional 1,300 discovered by Hussey. The results were published in 1932 and entitled New General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 120° of the North Pole, with the orbit information enabling astronomers to calculate stellar mass
Vincenzo Cerulli (20 April 1859 – 30 May 1927) was an Italian astronomer who owned a private observatory in Teramo, where he was born.
Cerulli compiled a star catalog with Elia Millosevich. He also observed Mars and developed the theory that the Martian canals were not real but an optical illusion, a theory that was later confirmed.
He discovered one asteroid, 704 Interamnia, which is named after the Latin name for Teramo, and is notable for its relatively large diameter of approximately 350 km, which makes it one of the largest bodies in the traditional asteroid belt.
A crater on Mars is named after Cerulli, as is the asteroid 366 Vincentina.
Cerulli died at Merate, Province of Lecco, in 1927.
Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Jābir ibn Sinān al-Raqqī al-Ḥarrānī al-Ṣābiʾ al-Battānī (Latinized as Albategnius, Albategni or Albatenius) (c. 858, Harran – 929, Qasr al-Jiss, near Samarra) was a Muslim astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician. He introduced a number of trigonometric relations, and his Kitāb az-Zīj was frequently quoted by many medieval astronomers, including Copernicus.
Little is known about al-Battānī's life beside that he was born in Harran near Urfa, in Upper Mesopotamia, which is now in Turkey, and his father was a famous maker of scientific instruments. His epithet aṣ-Ṣabi’ suggests that among his ancestry were members of the Sabian sect; however, his full name indicates that he was Muslim. Some western historians state that he is of noble origin, like an Arab prince, but traditional Arabic biographers make no mention of this. He lived and worked in ar-Raqqah, a city in north central Syria.
One of al-Battānī's best-known achievements in astronomy was the determination of the solar year as being 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds.
He was able to correct some of Ptolemy's results and compiled new tables of the Sun and Moon, long accepted as
Alfred Harrison Joy (September 23, 1882, Greenville, Illinois – April 18, 1973, Pasadena, California) was an astronomer best known for his work on stellar distances, the radial motion of stars, and variable stars.
He was born in Greenville, Illinois, the son of F.P. Joy, a prominent clothing merchant in Greenville and one-time mayor of the town. He received a BA from Greenville College in 1903 and an MA from Oberlin College the next year.
After graduating, Joy went on to work at the American University of Beirut in the Syrian Protestant College as a professor of astronomy and the director of the observatory. He was forced to return to the U.S. in 1915 because of World War I.
In the United States, he worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory from 1915 to 1952. There, he and his colleagues ascertained the spectral type, absolute magnitude, and stellar distance of over 5,000 stars. Joy also discovered the T-Tauri type star. He studied the Doppler displacement of the spectral lines of stars to determine their radial velocities deducing a star's absolute dimensions, masses, and the orbital elements of some specific stars. He won the Bruce Medal in 1950.
He was president of the Astronomical
Brian Harold May, CBE (born 19 July 1947) is an English musician and astrophysicist most widely known as the guitarist, songwriter and occasional singer of the rock band Queen. As a guitarist he uses his home-built guitar, "Red Special", and has composed hits such as "Tie Your Mother Down", "I Want It All", "We Will Rock You", "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Who Wants to Live Forever".
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for "services to the music industry and for his charity work". May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in 2007 and is the current Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. He resides in Surrey.
In 2005, a Planet Rock poll saw May voted the 7th greatest guitarist of all time. He was ranked at No. 26 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". In 2012, May was ranked the 2nd greatest guitarist of all time by a Guitar World magazine readers poll.
Brian May, the only child of Harold and Ruth May, was born in Hampton, London and attended Hampton Grammar School (now Hampton School). During this time he formed his first band with vocalist and bassist Tim Staffell, named 1984 after George
Carolyn Jean Spellmann Shoemaker (born 1929) is an American astronomer and is a co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. She holds the record for most comets discovered by an individual.
Carolyn Jean Spellmann was born in Gallup, New Mexico, United States. She is the widow of Eugene Shoemaker, a planetary scienist.
Shoemaker started her astronomical career in 1980, searching for Earth-crossing asteroids and comets at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, and the Palomar Observatory, San Diego, California.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Shoemaker used film taken at the wide-field telescope at the Palomar Observatory, combined with a stereoscope, to find objects which moved against the background of fixed stars.
As of 2002, Shoemaker had discovered 32 comets and over 800 asteroids (counting the as-yet unnumbered ones).
Shoemaker received an honorary doctorate from the Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1996. She and her husband were awarded the James Craig Watson Medal by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1998.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene (Ancient Greek: Ἐρατοσθένης, IPA: [eratostʰénɛːs]; English /ɛrəˈtɒsθəniːz/; c. 276 BC – c. 195 BC) was a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, athlete, astronomer, and music theorist.
He was the first person to use the word "geography" in Greek and he invented the discipline of geography as we understand it. He invented a system of latitude and longitude.
He was the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth by using a measuring system using stades, or the length of stadiums during that time period (with remarkable accuracy). He was the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth's axis (also with remarkable accuracy). He may also have accurately calculated the distance from the earth to the sun and invented the leap day. He also created the first map of the world incorporating parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions based on the available geographical knowledge of the era. In addition, Eratosthenes was the founder of scientific chronology; he endeavored to fix the dates of the chief literary and political events from the conquest of Troy.
According to an entry in the Suda (a 10th century reference), his contemporaries nicknamed
Hermann Mayer Salomon Goldschmidt (June 17, 1802 – April 26, 1866) was a German-French astronomer and painter who spent much of his life in France. He started out as a painter, but after attending a lecture by the famous French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier turned to astronomy. His discovery of the asteroid Lutetia in 1852 was followed by further findings and by 1861 Goldschmidt had discovered 14 asteroids. He received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1861 for having discovered more asteroids than any other person up to that time. He died from complications of diabetes.
Goldschmidt was born in Frankfurt as the son of a Jewish merchant. During a journey to Holland, Goldschmidt visited Dutch picture galleries. The impression of this visit convinced him to become a painter. He studied art in Munich for several years under supervision of such famous painters as Peter von Cornelius and Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. To complete his education, in 1836 Goldschmidt went to Paris.
In 1820, Goldschmidt discovered shadow bands in total solar eclipses.
Several lectures on astronomy were planned for the occasion of the lunar eclipse of March 31, 1847. Urbain Le Verrier,
John Norris Bahcall (December 30, 1934 – August 17, 2005) was an American astrophysicist, best known for his contributions to the solar neutrino problem, the development of the Hubble Space Telescope and for his leadership and development of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Bahcall was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He did not take science classes at high school. He was high school state tennis champion and a national debate champion. Bahcall began his university studies at Louisiana State University as a philosophy student on a tennis scholarship, where he considered becoming a rabbi. He transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, still studying philosophy. He took his first physics class as a graduation requirement.
He was married to Princeton University astrophysics professor Neta Bahcall, whom he met as a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute in the 1960s. They had a daughter and two sons. He died in New York from a rare blood disorder.
He graduated with an A.B. in Physics from Berkeley in 1956, obtained his M.S. in physics in 1957 from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard in 1961. He became a research fellow in physics
Stephen Erik Thorsett (born December 3, 1964) is an American professor and astronomer. His research interests include radio pulsars and gamma ray bursts. He is known for measurements of the masses of neutron stars and for the use of binary pulsars to test the theory of general relativity. Thorsett was a professor and dean at the University of California, Santa Cruz, before becoming president of Willamette University in July 2011.
Stephen Thorsett and his twin brother, David Thorsett, were born in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 3, 1964, to Grant Thorsett and his wife, Karen. Stephen grew up in Salem, Oregon, where his parents moved after he was born, and where his father was a biology professor at Willamette University. After attending elementary school and junior high in Salem, he graduated from South Salem High School in 1983. During his youth he earned money picking berries and with several jobs at Willamette.
Following high school, he attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. There he received a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics in 1987, graduating summa cum laude. Thorsett then earned a Master of Arts degree in 1989 and a Ph.D. in 1991 in physics from Princeton
Tobias Mayer (17 February 1723 – 20 February 1762) was a German astronomer famous for his studies of the Moon.
He was born at Marbach, in Württemberg, and brought up at Esslingen in poor circumstances. A self-taught mathematician, he earned a living by teaching mathematics while still a youth. He had already published two original geometrical works when, in 1746, he entered J.B. Homann's cartographic establishment at Nuremberg. Here he introduced many improvements in mapmaking, and gained a scientific reputation which led (in 1751) to his election to the chair of economy and mathematics at the University of Göttingen. In 1754 he became superintendent of the observatory, where he worked until his death in 1762.
His first important astronomical work was a careful investigation of the libration of the moon (Kosmographische Nachrichten, Nuremberg, 1750), and his chart of the full moon (published in 1775) was unsurpassed for half a century. But his fame rests chiefly on his lunar tables, communicated in 1752, with new solar tables to the Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (Royal Society of Sciences and Humanities at Göttingen), and published in their transactions.
Henrietta Swan Leavitt (July 4, 1868 – December 12, 1921) was an American astronomer. A graduate of Radcliffe College, in 1893 Leavitt started working at the Harvard College Observatory as a "computer", tasked with examining photographic plates in order to measure and catalog the brightness of stars. Leavitt discovered the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Though she received little recognition in her lifetime, it was her discovery that first allowed astronomers to measure the distance between the Earth and faraway galaxies. After Leavitt's death, Edwin Hubble used the luminosity-period relation for Cepheids to determine that the Universe is expanding (see Hubble's law).
Henrietta Swan Leavitt, the daughter of Congregational church minister George Roswell Leavitt and his wife Henrietta Swan (Kendrick), was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, a descendant of Deacon John Leavitt, an English Puritan tailor, who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early seventeenth century. (The family name was spelled Levett in early Massachusetts records.) She attended Oberlin College, and graduated from Radcliffe College, then called the Society for
Karl Ludwig Harding (September 29, 1765 – August 31, 1834) was a German astronomer notable for having discovered the asteroid 3 Juno.
Harding was born in Lauenburg. From 1786-89, he was educated at the University of Göttingen, where he studied theology, mathematics, and physics. In 1796 Johann Hieronymus Schröter hired Harding as a tutor for his son. Schröter was an enthusiastic astronomer, and Harding was soon appointed observer and inspector in his observatory.
In 1804, Harding discovered Juno at Schröter's observatory. He then went to Göttingen to assist Carl Friedrich Gauss. There he was professor of astronomy.
In addition to Juno, he discovered three comets, and published:
The crater Harding on the Moon is named after him, and so is the asteroid 2003 Harding.
David H. Levy (born May 22, 1948) is a Canadian astronomer and science writer most famous for his co-discovery in 1993 of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994.
Levy was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1948. He developed an interest in astronomy at an early age. However, he pursued and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature.
Levy went on to discover 22 comets, either independently or with Gene and Carolyn S. Shoemaker. He has written 34 books, mostly on astronomical subjects, such as The Quest for Comets, the definitive biography of Pluto-discoverer Clyde Tombaugh in 2006, and his tribute to Gene Shoemaker in Shoemaker by Levy. He has provided periodic articles for Sky and Telescope magazine, as well as Parade Magazine, Sky News and, most recently, Astronomy Magazine.
Periodic comets that Levy co-discovered include 118P/Shoemaker–Levy, 129P/Shoemaker–Levy, 135P/Shoemaker–Levy, 137P/Shoemaker–Levy, 138P/Shoemaker–Levy, 145P/Shoemaker–Levy, and 181P/Shoemaker–Levy. In addition, Levy is the sole discoverer of two periodic comets: 255P/Levy and P/1991 L3.
On February 28, 2010, Levy was awarded a Ph. D. from the Hebrew
'Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (Persian: عبدالرحمن صوفی) (December 7, 903. Rey, Iran – May 25, 986. Shiraz) was a Persian astronomer also known as 'Abd ar-Rahman as-Sufi, or 'Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Husayn, 'Abdul Rahman Sufi, 'Abdurrahman Sufi and known in the west as Azophi; the lunar crater Azophi and the minor planet 12621 Alsufi are named after him. Al-Sufi published his famous Book of Fixed Stars in 964, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures.
He was one of the famous nine Muslim astronomers. His name implies that he was a Sufi Muslim. He lived at the court of Emir Adud ad-Daula in Isfahan, Persia, and worked on translating and expanding Greek astronomical works, especially the Almagest of Ptolemy. He contributed several corrections to Ptolemy's star list and did his own brightness and magnitude estimates which frequently deviated from those in Ptolemy's work.
He was a major translator into Arabic of the Hellenistic astronomy that had been centred in Alexandria, the first to attempt to relate the Greek with the traditional Arabic star names and constellations, which were completely unrelated and overlapped in complicated ways.
He identified the Large
George William Hill (March 3, 1838 – April 16, 1914), was an American astronomer and mathematician.
Hill was born in New York City, New York to painter and engraver John William Hill. and Catherine Smith Hill. He moved to West Nyack with his family when he was eight years old. After attending high school, Hill graduated from Rutgers University in 1859. In 1861 he was hired by John Daniel Runkle at the Nautical Almanac Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work focused on the mathematics describing the three-body problem, later the four-body problem, to calculate the orbits of the Moon around the Earth, as well as that of planets around the Sun.
The Hill sphere, which approximates the gravitational sphere of influence of one astronomical body in the face of perturbations from another heavier body around which it orbits, was described by Hill.
He became president of the American Mathematical Society in 1894, serving for two years. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1908, as well as to the academies of Belgium (1909), Christiania (1910), Sweden (1913), among others.
Hill died in West Nyack, New York.
Jean Chacornac (June 21, 1823 – September 23, 1873) was a French astronomer.
He was born in Lyon and died in St Jean en Royans. Working in Marseille and Paris, he discovered six asteroids and the comet Chacornac C/1852 K1 which may be the source of the current Eta Eridanids meteors. The asteroid 1622 Chacornac and the crater Chacornac on the Moon are named in his honour.
Mark M. Phillips is internationally recognized astronomer in the observational studies of all classes of supernovae. He is well known for his work on SN1986G, SN1987A, the Calán/Tololo Supernova Survey, the High-Z Supernova Search Team, and especially for the Phillips relationship. This relationship has allowed the use of Type Ia supernovae as standard candles, leading to the precise measurements of the Hubble constant H0 and the deceleration parameter q0, the latter implying the existence of dark energy or a cosmological constant in the Universe.
He is the past director of Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and is presently the Associate Director and Carnegie Staff Member at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, part of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
He received his undergraduate degree in Astronomy from San Diego State University in 1973, and his Ph.D., also in Astronomy & Astrophysics in 1977, from the University of California Santa Cruz and Lick Observatory where he was a student of Professor Donald Osterbrock. After graduate school, he was a postdoc at both CTIO, then at Anglo-Australian Observatory,
Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, DBE, FRS, FRAS (born 15 July 1943) is a British astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars with her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. She was president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011. She was succeeded in October 2011 by Sir Peter Knight.
The paper announcing the discovery had five authors. Hewish's name was listed first, Bell's second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Martin Ryle, without the inclusion of Bell as a co-recipient, which stoked controversy and was roundly condemned by Hewish's fellow astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in their press release announcing the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, cited Ryle and Hewish for their pioneering work in radio-astrophysics, with particular mention of Ryle's work on aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish's decisive role in the discovery of pulsars. Dr. Iosif Shklovsky, recipient of the 1972 Bruce Medal, had sought out Bell at the 1970
Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet, KH, FRS (7 March 1792 – 11 May 1871) was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work. He was the son of Mary Baldwin and astronomer Sir William Herschel and the father of 12 children.
Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy. He named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays.
Herschel was born in Slough, Berkshire, and studied shortly at Eton College and St John's College, Cambridge. He graduated as Senior wrangler in 1813. It was during his time as an undergraduate that he became friends with Charles Babbage and George Peacock. He took up astronomy in 1816, building a reflecting telescope with a mirror 18 inches (460 mm) in diameter and with a 20-foot (6.1 m) focal length. Between 1821 and 1823 he re-examined, with James South, the double stars catalogued by his father. For this work he was presented in 1826 with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (which he won
Claudius Ptolemy ( /ˈtɒləmi/; Greek: Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, Klaudios Ptolemaios; Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus; c. AD 90 – c. AD 168) was a Greek-Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the Thebaid. This theory, proposed by Theodore Meliteniotes, could be correct, but it is late (ca. 1360) and unsupported. There is no reason to suppose that he ever lived anywhere else than Alexandria, where he died around AD 168.
Ptolemy was the author of several scientific treatises, at least three of which were of continuing importance to later Islamic and European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest (in Greek, Ἡ Μεγάλη Σύνταξις, "The Great Treatise", originally Μαθηματικὴ Σύνταξις, "Mathematical Treatise"). The second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the astrological treatise known sometimes in Greek as the Apotelesmatika (Ἀποτελεσματικά), more commonly in Greek
Viktor Hambardzumyan (Armenian: Վիկտոր Համբարձումյան, Russian: Виктор Амазаспович Амбарцумян) (September 18 [O.S. September 5] 1908 – August 12, 1996) was a Soviet Armenian scientist, and 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, contributed to Mathematical physics. Amabartsumian was the President of the International Astronomical Union from 1961 till 1964, was twice elected the President of the International Council of Scientific Unions (1966–1972), was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and foreign member of the Royal Society, the US National Academy and the Indian Academy of Sciences. Among his numerous awards are Stalin Prize (1946,1950), Hero of Socialist Labor (1968,1978), State Prize of the Russian Federation, Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Bruce Gold Medal from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, National Hero of Armenia. Hambardzumyan was the founder of Byurakan Observatory.
Hambardzumyan was born to an Armenian family in Tbilisi in 1908. His father was the philologist and writer Hamazasp Asaturovich
William Rutter Dawes (19 March 1799 – 15 February 1868) was an English astronomer.
Dawes was born in West Sussex, the son of William Dawes, also an astronomer, and Judith Rutter.
Dawes was a clergyman who made extensive measurements of double stars as well as observations of planets. He was a friend of William Lassell. He was nicknamed "eagle eye". He set up his private observatory at his home in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. One of his telescopes, an eight-inch refractor by Cooke, survives at the Cambridge Observatory where it is known as the Thorrowgood Telescope.
He made extensive drawings of Mars during its 1864 opposition. In 1867, Richard Anthony Proctor made a map of Mars based on these drawings.
He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1855.
Craters on Mars and on the Moon are named after him, as is a gap within Saturn's C Ring.
An optical phenomenon, the Dawes limit, is named for him.
Frank Donald Drake PhD is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. 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 lifeforms for transmission into the cosmos.
Born on May 28, 1930 in Chicago, as a youth Drake loved electronics and chemistry. He reports that he considered the possibility of life existing on other planets as an 8-year-old, but never discussed the idea with his family or teachers due to the prevalent religious ideology.
He enrolled at Cornell University on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Once there he began studying astronomy. His ideas about the possibility of extraterrestrial life were reinforced by a lecture from astrophysicist Otto Struve in 1951. After college, he served briefly as an electronics officer on the USS Albany. He then went on to graduate school at Harvard in radio astronomy.
Giovanni Battista Donati Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni baˈtista doˈnaːti]; 16 December 1826, Pisa, Italy – 20 September 1873, Florence, Italy) was an Italian astronomer.
Donati graduated from the university of his native city, Pisa, and afterwards joined the staff of the Observatory of Florence in 1852. He was appointed director in 1864.
Donati pioneered spectroscopy of comets to determine their physical composition, in particular with the comet 1864b, which spectrum he found containing three emitting lines which would four years later be identified by William Huggins to be carbon. He discovered that the spectrum changed when a comet approached the Sun, and that heating caused it to emit its own light rather than reflected sunlight: he concluded that the composition of comets is, at least in part, gaseous. Donati was also a pioneer in the spectroscopic study of the stars and the sun.
Between 1854 and 1864 he discovered six new comets, including the spectacular Comet Donati (C/1858 L1), found in 1858.
Donati died from cholera, which he had contracted while attending a scientific convention in Vienna.
Maximilian Hell (Hungarian: Hell Miksa) (May 15, 1720 – April 14, 1792) was a Hungarian astronomer and an ordained Jesuit priest from the Kingdom of Hungary.
Born as Rudolf Maximilian Höll in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia)., but later changed his surname to Hell. He was the third son from the second marriage of his father Matthias Cornelius Hell (Matthäus Kornelius Hell) and his mother Julianna Staindl. The couple had a total of 22 children. Registry entries indicate that the family was of German descent, while Maximilian Hell later in lifte (ca 1750) is known to declare himself as Hungarian.
The place of birth of Maximilian's father is unknown; the settlements Körmöcbánya (today Kremnica), Schlagenwald, (today Horní Slavkov) or Schlackenwerth (today Ostrov nad Ohří) are most frequently given. Born in a mixed German, Hungarian and Slovak town, he presumably knew Slovak to a certain extent and he probably understood Hungarian, but his mother tongue was German. Even so, Hell considered himself a Hungarian. Hell with another Jesuit priest, János Sajnovics tried to explore the already widely discussed but insufficiently documented affinity
Samuel Pierpont Langley (August 22, 1834, Roxbury, Massachusetts – February 27, 1906, Aiken, South Carolina) was an American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation. He attended Boston Latin School, graduated from Boston High School, was an assistant in the Harvard College Observatory, then moved to a job ostensibly as a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, but actually was sent there to restore the Academy's small observatory. In 1867, he became the director of the Allegheny Observatory and a professor of astronomy at the Western University of Pennsylvania, now known as the University of Pittsburgh, a post he kept until 1891 even while he became the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1887. Langley was the founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Langley arrived in Pittsburgh in 1867 to become the first director of the Alleghany Observatory, after the institution had fallen into hard times and been given to the Western University of Pennsylvania. By then, the department was in disarray – equipment was broken, there was no library and the building needed repairs. Through the friendship and aid of
William Wallace Campbell (11 April 1862 – 14 June 1938) was an American astronomer, and director of Lick Observatory from 1900 to 1930. He specialized in spectroscopy.
He was born on a farm in Hancock county, Ohio, the son of Robert Wilson and Harriet Welsh Campbell. After a few years of local schooling he entered in 1882 the University of Michigan to study civil engineering, graduating Bachelor of Science in 1886. Whilst at university he developed his interest in astronomy when he read Simon Newcomb's Popular Astronomy.
After graduating he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the University of Colorado but soon moved back to Michigan as an instructor in astronomy. In 1891 he was invited to work on spectroscopy at Lick Observatory in California. Campbell was a pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy and catalogued the radial velocities of stars. He was made a director of Lick Observatory from 1901 to 1930. He led a team to Australia in 1922 where he photographed a solar eclipse. The data obtained provided further evidence supporting Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. In 1931 he accepted the rôle of president of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington (1931–1935).
Albert Marth (May 5, 1828 – August 5, 1897) was a German astronomer who worked in England and Ireland.
He came to England in 1853 to work for George Bishop, a rich wine merchant and patron of astronomy. At that time, paid jobs in astronomy were quite rare.
He worked as William Lassell's assistant in Malta, discovering 600 nebulae. He also discovered one of the earlier asteroids found, 29 Amphitrite.
He worked at the Markree Observatory in Ireland where he was the second director appointed in its second period of operation.
He made extensive ephemerides of solar system bodies. He even performed calculations of transits of various planets from other planets, predicting transits of Earth from Mars and many others.
Craters on the Moon and Mars are named for him.
Bruno Benedetto Rossi (April 13, 1905 – November 21, 1993) was a leading Italian-American experimental physicist. He made major contributions to cosmic ray and particle physics from 1930 through the 1950s, and pioneered X-ray astronomy and space plasma physics in the 1960s.
Rossi was born in Venice, Italy. After receiving the doctorate degree from the University of Bologna, he began his career in 1928 as assistant at the Physics Institute of the University of Florence where he made his first discoveries regarding the nature of cosmic rays. In 1932 he was called to the University of Padua as professor of experimental physics. There, in addition to teaching and research, Rossi planned the new Physics Institute of the University and oversaw its construction. In the fall of 1938 he was expelled from his position as a result of the racial decrees of the fascist state. Rossi was Jewish and so was his wife, Nora Lombroso (granddaughter of anthropologist, Cesare Lombroso), so they had to leave Italy and traveled to America with brief stays in Copenhagen, Denmark and Manchester, England.
They arrived at the University of Chicago in June 1939 where he was given a temporary position as
Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750 – 9 January 1848) was a German-British astronomer and the sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel with whom she worked throughout both of their careers. Her most significant contribution to astronomy was the discovery of several comets and in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. At the age of ten, Caroline was struck with typhus, which stunted her growth and she never grew past four foot three. Due to this deformation, her family assumed that she would never marry and that it was best for her to remain a house servant. Instead she became a significant astronomer in collaboration with William.
Caroline was born in Hannover to Isaac Herschel and Anna Ilse Moritzen of Hannover. Her father was of Jewish descent. At the time, the crowns of England and Hannover were united under George II., meaning that movement back and forth was easy. Isaak led a musical family, and William twelve years Caroline's senior, became an army oboist in his teens. After seeing combat and deciding on a new career William decided to go to England, moving there in 1757 at the age of nineteen. Upon Isaak's death in 1767 Caroline was
David Lincoln Rabinowitz (born 1960) is a researcher at Yale University. He has built CCD cameras and software for the detection of near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects, and his research has helped reduce the assumed number of near-Earth asteroids larger than 1 km by half, from 1,000–2,000 to 500–1,000 He has also assisted in the detection of distant solar system objects, supernovae, and quasars, thereby helping to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system and the dark energy driving the accelerated expansion of the universe.
Collaborating with Michael E. Brown and Chad Trujillo of the Quasar Equatorial Survey Team, he has participated in the discovery of several plutoids:
although he would not get credit for Haumea.
Together with Tom Gehrels of the University of Arizona and his Spacewatch Team, Rabinowitz discovered or co-discovered other astronomical objects including:
Joseph Johann von Littrow (March 13, 1781, Horšovský Týn (German: Bischofteinitz) – November 30, 1840, Vienna) was an Austrian astronomer. In 1837, he was ennobled with the title Joseph Johann Edler von Littrow. He was the father of Karl Ludwig Edler von Littrow and the mentor of the mathematician Nikolai Brashman. His work took him to Russia for a time, which is where his son who succeeded him was born.
He became director of the Vienna Observatory in 1819. He served in this position until his death in 1840. He created the only conformal retroazimuthal map projection, which is known as the Littrow projection.
Von Littrow is often associated with a proposal to dig a large circular canal in the Sahara desert and fill it with burning kerosene, thus communicating the fact of human intelligence to aliens who may be observing earth. However, Von Littrow's connection with this scheme may be apocryphal.
The crater Littrow on the Moon is named in his honour.
Thomas Harriot (Oxford, ca. 1560 – London, 2 July 1621) — or spelled Harriott, Hariot, or Heriot — was an English astronomer, mathematician, ethnographer, and translator. He is sometimes credited with the introduction of the potato to the British Isles. Harriot was the first person to make a drawing of the Moon through a telescope, on July 26, 1609, over four months before Galileo.
After graduating from Oxford University, Harriot travelled to the Americas, accompanying the 1585 expedition to Roanoke island funded by Sir Walter Raleigh and led by Sir Ralph Lane. Harriot was a vital member of the venture, having translated and learned the Carolina Algonquian language from two Native Americans, Wanchese and Manteo. On his return to England he worked for the 9th Earl of Northumberland. At the Earl's house, he became a prolific mathematician and astronomer to whom the theory of refraction is attributed.
Born in 1560 in Oxford, England, Thomas Harriot attended St Mary Hall, Oxford. His name appears in the school's registry dating from 1577.
After his graduation from Oxford in 1580, Harriot was first hired by Sir Walter Raleigh as a mathematics tutor; he used his knowledge of
Annibale de Gasparis (November 9, 1819, Bugnara –March 21, 1892, Naples; Italian pronunciation: [anˈniːbale de ˈɡasparis]) was an Italian astronomer. From 1864 to 1889 he was the director of the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte in Naples.
He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1851.
The asteroid 4279 De Gasparis as well as the lunar crater de Gasparis (30 km in diameter) and the Rimae de Gasparis (a 93 km long fracture near the crater) are named in his honour.
Christoph Arnold (December 17, 1650 – April 15, 1695) was a German amateur astronomer.
Born in Sommerfeld near Leipzig, Arnold was a farmer by profession. Interested in astronomy, he spotted the great comet of 1683, eight days before Hevelius did. He also observed the great comet of 1686. In 1686, Kirch went to Leipzig. There, he observed the great comet of 1686, together with Gottfried Kirch. There, Kirch met his second wife, Maria Margarethe Winckelmann (1670–1720), who had actually learned astronomy from Arnold.
Arnold observed the transit of Mercury in front of the sun on October 13, 1690. For this work, he received some money and a tax exemption from the town of Leipzig. He was the author of Göttliche Gnadenzeichen, in einem Sonnenwunder vor Augen gestellt (Leipzig, 1692) which contains an account of the transit of Mercury in 1690.
He died at Leipzig.
The crater Arnold on the Moon is named after him.
This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.
David Fabricius (March 9, 1564 – May 7, 1617), was a German theologian who made two major discoveries in the early days of telescopic astronomy, jointly with his eldest son, Johannes Fabricius (1587–1615).
David Fabricius (Latinization of his proper name David Faber or David Goldschmidt) was born at Esens, Lower Saxony, studied at the University of Helmstedt starting in 1583 and served as pastor for small towns near his birthplace in Frisia (now northwest Germany and northeast Netherlands), at Resterhafe near Dornum in 1584 and at Osteel in 1603. As was common for Protestant ministers of the day, he dabbled in science: his particular interest was astronomy.
Fabricius discovered the first known periodic variable star (as opposed to cataclysmic variables, such as novas and supernovas), Mira, in August 1596. At first he believed it to be "just" another nova, as the whole concept of a recurring variable did not exist at the time. When he saw Mira brighten again in 1609, however, it became clear that a new kind of object had been discovered in the sky.
Two years later, his son Johannes Fabricius (1587–1615) returned from university in the Netherlands with telescopes that they turned on
Simon Marius (Latinized from German Simon Mayr) (January 10, 1573 – December 26, 1624) was a German astronomer. He was born in Gunzenhausen, near Nuremberg, but he spent most of his life in the city of Ansbach.
In 1614 Marius published his work Mundus Iovialis describing the planet Jupiter and its moons. Here he claimed to have discovered the planet's four major moons some days before Galileo Galilei. This led to a dispute with Galileo, who showed that Marius provided only one observation as early as Galileo's, and it matched Galileo's diagram for the same date, as published in 1610. It is considered possible that Marius discovered the moons independently, but at least some days later than Galileo.
Regardless of priority, the mythological names by which these satellites are known today (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) are those given them by Marius:
Simon Marius also observed the Andromeda "nebula", which had also been known to Arab astronomers of the Middle Ages. Discussion of Marius's work is scarce, but what exists tends to note his skill as an observer, including:
Marius drew conclusions about the structure of the universe from his observations of the Jovian moons and the
Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī also known as Alfraganus in the West was a Persian and Sunni Muslim astronomer and one of the famous astronomers in 9th century. The crater Alfraganus on the Moon is named after him.
He was involved in the calculation of the diameter of the Earth by the measurement of the meridian arc length together with a team of scientists under the patronage of al-Ma'mūn in Baghdad. Later he moved to Cairo, where he composed a treatise on the astrolabe around 856. There he also supervised the construction of the large Nilometer on the island of al-Rawda (in Old Cairo) in the year 861.
His textbook Kitāb fī Jawāmiʿ ʿIlm al-Nujūm (كتاب في جوامع علم النجوم A Compendium of the Science of the Stars) or Elements of astronomy on the celestial motions, written about 833, was a competent descriptive summary of Ptolemy's Almagest, while using the findings and revised values of earlier Islamic astronomers. It was translated into Latin in the 12th century and remained very popular in Europe until the time of Regiomontanus. Dante Alighieri's knowledge of Ptolemaic astronomy, which is evident in his Divina Commedia as well as other works such as the
Camille Guillaume Bigourdan (April 6, 1851 – February 28, 1932) was a French astronomer.
Bigourdan was born at Sistels, Tarn-et-Garonne to Pierre Bigourdan and Jeanne Carrière. In 1877 he was appointed by Félix Tisserand as assistant astronomer at the Toulouse Observatory, and in 1879 followed Tisserand to the Paris Observatory when the latter became director there.
He spent many years verifying the positions of 6380 nebulas. He hoped to set a basis for future studies of the proper motion of nebulas; this turned out to be more or less in vain, since distant nebulas will not show any proper motion. However, he did discover approximately 500 new objects.
In 1902 he participated in an effort to redetermine with greater precision the longitude difference between London and Paris. He became a member of the Bureau des Longitudes in 1903, and a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1904.
He described a method for adjusting equatorial mount telescopes, which was known as "Bigourdan's method".
Bigourdan won the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences in 1883 and in 1891, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1919. He was director of the Bureau International
Johann(es) Fabricius (8 January 1587 – 19 March 1616), eldest son of David Fabricius (1564–1617), was a Frisian/German astronomer and a discoverer of sunspots (in 1610), independently of Galileo Galilei.
Johannes was born in Resterhafe (East Friesland). He studied at the University of Helmstedt, Wittenberg University and graduated from Leiden University in 1611. He returned from university in the Netherlands with telescopes that he and his father turned on the Sun. Despite the difficulties of observing the sun directly, they noted the existence of sunspots, the first confirmed instance of their observation (though unclear statements in East Asian annals suggest that Chinese astronomers may have discovered them with the naked eye previously, and Fabricius may have noticed them himself without a telescope a few years before). Johannes first observed a sunspot on February 27, 1611; in Wittenberg that year he published the results of his observations in his 22 page pamphlet De Maculis in Sole observatis.... .
The pair soon used camera obscura telescopy so as to save their eyes and get a better view of the solar disk, and observed that the spots moved. They would appear on the eastern
Peter Andreas Hansen (born December 8, 1795 Tønder, Schleswig (Denmark) – died March 28, 1874 Gotha, Thuringia (Germany)) was a German astronomer.
The son of a goldsmith, Hansen learned the trade of a watchmaker at Flensburg, and exercised it at Berlin and Tønder, 1818–1820. He had, however, long been a student of science; and Dr Dircks, a physician practising at Tønder, prevailed with his father to send him in 1820 to Copenhagen, where he won the patronage of H.C. Schumacher and attracted the personal notice of King Frederick VI. The Danish survey was then in progress, and he acted as Schumacher's assistant in work connected with it, chiefly at the new observatory of Altona, 1821–1825.
Thence he passed on to Gotha as director of the Seeberg observatory; nor could he be tempted to relinquish the post by successive invitations to replace F.G.W. Struve at Dorpat in 1829, and F.W. Bessel at Königsberg in 1847. The problems of gravitational astronomy engaged the chief part of Hansen's attention. A research into the mutual perturbations of Jupiter and Saturn secured for him the prize of the Berlin Academy in 1830, and a memoir on cometary disturbances was crowned by the Paris Academy
Pierre Charles Le Monnier (23 November 1715 – 31 May 1799) was a French astronomer. His name is sometimes given as Lemonnier.
Le Monnier was born in Paris, where his father Pierre (1675–1757), also an astronomer, was professor of philosophy at the college d'Harcourt.
His first recorded astronomical observation was made before he was sixteen, and the presentation of an elaborate lunar map resulted in his admission to the French Academy of Sciences, on 21 April 1736, aged only 20. He was chosen in the same year to accompany Pierre Louis Maupertuis and Alexis Clairaut on their geodetical expedition for measuring a meridian arc of approximately one degree's length to Torne Valley in Lapland. In 1738, shortly after his return, he explained, in a memoir read before the Academy, the advantages of John Flamsteed's mode of determining right ascensions.
His persistent recommendation of British methods and instruments contributed effectively to the reform of French practical astronomy, and constituted the most eminent of his services to science. He corresponded with James Bradley, was the first to represent the effects of nutation in the solar tables, and introduced, in 1741, the use of the
Sir Thomas Digges (1546 – 24 August 1595) was an English mathematician and astronomer. He was the first to expound the Copernican system in English but discarded the notion of a fixed shell of immoveable stars to postulate infinitely many stars at varying distances; he was also first to postulate the "dark night sky paradox".
Thomas was the son of Leonard Digges, the mathematician and surveyor. After the death of his father, Thomas grew up under the guardianship of John Dee, a typical Renaissance natural philosopher.
Digges served as a Member of Parliament for Wallingford and also had a military career as a Muster-Master General to the English forces from 1586 to 1594 during the war with the Spanish Netherlands.
Thomas Digges married Anne, daughter of Warham St Leger; and was the father of Sir Dudley Digges (1583–1639), politician and statesman, and Leonard Digges (1588–1635), poet.
Thomas attempted to determine the parallax of the 1572 supernova observed by Tycho Brahe, and concluded it had to be beyond the orbit of the Moon. This contradicted the accepted view of the universe, according to which no change could take place among the fixed stars.
In 1576, he published a new edition
William Henry Pickering (February 15, 1858 – January 17, 1938) was an American astronomer, brother of Edward Charles Pickering. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1883.
He discovered Saturn's ninth moon Phoebe in 1899 from plates taken in 1898. He also believed he had discovered a tenth moon in 1905 from plates taken in 1904, which he called "Themis". For this discovery he was awarded the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences in 1906. Unfortunately "Themis" does not exist.
Following George Darwin, he speculated in 1907 that the moon was once a part of the earth and that it broke away where now the Pacific Ocean lies. He also proposed some sort of continental drift (even before Alfred Wegener) and speculated that America, Asia, Africa, and Europe once formed a single continent, which broke up because of the separation of the moon.
In 1908 he made a statement regarding the possibility of airplanes that had not yet been invented, saying that "a popular fantasy is to suppose that flying machines could be used to drop dynamite on the enemy in time of war".
He led solar eclipse expeditions and studied craters on the Moon, and hypothesized
John Flamsteed FRS (19 August 1646 – 31 December 1719) was an English astronomer and the first Astronomer Royal. He catalogued over 3000 stars.
Flamsteed was born in Denby, Derbyshire, England, the only son of Stephen Flamsteed and his first wife, Mary Spadman. He was educated at the free school of Derby, and was educated at Derby School, in St Peter's Churchyard, Derby, near where his father carried on a malting business. At that time, most masters of the school were Puritans. Flamsteed had a solid knowledge of Latin, essential for reading the literature of the day, and a love of history, leaving the school in May, 1662.
His progress to Jesus College, Cambridge, recommended by the Master of Derby School, was delayed by some years of chronic ill health. During those years, Flamsteed gave his father some help in his business, and from his father learnt arithmetic and the use of fractions, but he also used those years to develop a keen interest in mathematics and astronomy. In July 1662, he was fascinated by the thirteenth century work of Johannes de Sacrobosco, De sphaera mundi, and on 12 September 1662 observed his first partial solar eclipse. Early in 1663, he read Thomas Fale's
Aryabhata pronunciation (help·info) (IAST: Āryabhaṭa, Sanskrit: आर्यभट) or Aryabhata I (476–550 CE) was the first in the line of great mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy. His most famous works are the Āryabhaṭīya (499 CE, when he was 23 years old) and the Arya-siddhanta.
The works of Aryabhata dealt with mainly mathematics and astronomy. He also worked on the approximation for pi.
While there is a tendency to misspell his name as "Aryabhatta" by analogy with other names having the "bhatta" suffix, his name is properly spelled Aryabhata: every astronomical text spells his name thus, including Brahmagupta's references to him "in more than a hundred places by name". Furthermore, in most instances "Aryabhatta" does not fit the metre either.
Aryabhata mentions in the Aryabhatiya that it was composed 3,630 years into the Kali Yuga, when he was 23 years old. This corresponds to 499 CE, and implies that he was born in 476.
Aryabhata was born in Taregna (literally, song of the stars), which is a small town in Bihar, India, about 30 km (19 mi) from Patna (then known as Pataliputra), the capital city of Bihar State. Evidences justify
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss ( /ɡaʊs/; German: Gauß, pronounced [ɡaʊs] ( listen); Latin: Carolus Fridericus Gauss) (30 April 1777 – 23 February 1855) was a German mathematician and physical scientist who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics.
Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum (Latin, "the Prince of Mathematicians" or "the foremost of mathematicians") and "greatest mathematician since antiquity", Gauss had a remarkable influence in many fields of mathematics and science and is ranked as one of history's most influential mathematicians. He referred to mathematics as "the queen of sciences".
Carl Friedrich Gauss was born on 30 April 1777 in Braunschweig (Brunswick), in the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, now part of Lower Saxony, Germany, as the son of poor working-class parents. Indeed, his mother was illiterate and never recorded the date of his birth, remembering only that he had been born on a Wednesday, eight days before the Feast of the Ascension, which itself occurs 40 days after Easter. Gauss would later solve this puzzle
This article is about the French astronomer. For his Italian-born great-grandfather, see Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
Jean-Dominique, comte de Cassini (30 June 1748 – 18 October 1845) was a French astronomer, son of César-François Cassini de Thury.
Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory. In 1784 he succeeded his father as director of the observatory; but his plans for its restoration and re-equipment were wrecked in 1793 by the animosity of the National Assembly. His position having become intolerable, he resigned on 6 September and was thrown into prison in 1794, but released after seven months. He then withdrew to Thury, where he died fifty-one years later.
He published in 1770 an account of a voyage to America in 1768, undertaken as the commissary of the French Academy of Sciences with a view to testing Pierre Le Roy’s watches at sea. A memoir in which he described the operations superintended by him in 1787 for connecting the observatories of Paris and Greenwich by longitude-determinations appeared in 1791. He visited England for the purposes of the work, and saw William Herschel at Slough. He completed his father’s map of France, which was published by the Academy of Sciences
Samuel Heinrich Schwabe (25 October 1789 – 11 April 1875) a German astronomer remembered for his work on sunspots.
Schwabe was born at Dessau. At first an apothecary, he turned his attention to astronomy, and in 1826 commenced his observations on sunspots. Schwabe was trying to discover a new planet inside the orbit of Mercury which was tentatively called Vulcan. Because of the proximity to the Sun, it would have been very difficult to observe Vulcan, and Schwabe believed one possibility to detect the planet might be to see it as a dark spot when passing in front of the Sun. For 17 years, from 1826 to 1843, on every clear day, Schwabe would scan the sun and record its spots trying to detect Vulcan among them. He did not find the planet but noticed the regular variation in the number of sunspots and published his findings in a short article entitled "Solar Observations during 1843". In it he made the suggestion of a probable ten year period (i.e. that at every tenth year the number of spots reached a maximum). This paper at first attracted little attention, but Rudolf Wolf who was at that time the director of Bern observatory, was impressed so he began regular observations of
Henry Draper (March 7, 1837 – November 20, 1882) was an American doctor and amateur astronomer. He is best known today as a pioneer of astrophotography.
Henry Draper's father, John William Draper, was an accomplished doctor, chemist, botanist, and professor at New York University; he was also the first to photograph the moon through a telescope in the winter of 1839–1840. Draper's mother was Antonia Coetana de Paiva Pereira Gardner, daughter of the personal physician to the Emperor of Brazil. His niece, Antonia Maury was also an astronomer.
He graduated from New York University School of Medicine, at the age of 20, in 1857. He worked first as a physician at Bellevue Hospital, and later as both a professor and dean of medicine at New York University (NYU). In 1867 he married Anna Mary Palmer, a wealthy socialite.
Draper was one of the pioneers of the use of astrophotography. In 1872, he took a stellar spectrum that showed absorption lines, others, such as Joseph Fraunhofer, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd and Angelo Secchi, preceded him in that ambition.
He resigned his chair in the medical department in 1873, to allow for more time for original research.
He directed an expedition to
Grote Reber (December 22, 1911 – December 20, 2002) was a pioneer of radio astronomy, which combined his interests in amateur radio and amateur astronomy. He was instrumental in investigating and extending Karl Jansky's pioneering work, and conducted the first sky survey in the radio frequencies. His 1937 radio antenna was the second ever to be used for astronomical purposes and the first parabolic reflecting antenna to be used as a radio telescope. For nearly a decade he was the world's only radio astronomer.
Reber was born and raised in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and graduated from Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1933 with a degree in electrical engineering. He was an amateur radio operator (ex-W9GFZ), and worked for various radio manufacturers in Chicago from 1933 to 1947.
When he learned of Karl Jansky's work in 1933, he decided this was the field he wanted to work in, and applied to Bell Labs, where Jansky was working. However this was during the height of the Great Depression and there were no jobs available.
In the summer of 1937, Reber decided to build his own radio telescope in his back yard in Wheaton. Reber's radio
Terence Dickinson, CM (born 1943) is a leading amateur astronomer and science writer who lives near the rural town of Yarker, Ontario, Canada. He is the editor of SkyNews magazine and an astronomy commentator for Discovery Channel Canada. He has written fourteen books, which are widely regarded as some of the best resources available for beginners in astronomy. Dickinson teaches part-time at St. Lawrence College and the asteroid 5272 Dickinson is named after him. He has also made appearances at places such as the Ontario Science Centre.
Dickinson became interested in astronomy at age 5, after seeing a bright meteor. When he was 14 he received a 60 mm telescope as a Christmas present: the first of nearly 20 telescopes he has owned. Past occupations include editor of Astronomy magazine and planetarium instructor. He became a full time science writer in 1976. In 1995 Dickinson was made a Member of the Order of Canada, which is the nation's highest civilian achievement award. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific awarded him the Klumpke-Roberts Award in 1996.
Alexei Vladimir Filippenko (born July 25, 1958, Oakland, California) is an American astrophysicist and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. Filippenko graduated from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1979 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1984, where he was a Hertz Foundation Fellow. His research focuses on supernova and active galaxies at optical, ultraviolet, and near-infrared wavelengths.
Filippenko was a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-z Supernova Search Team that used observations of extragalactic supernovae to discover the accelerating universe. This universal acceleration implies the existence of dark energy and was voted the top science breakthrough of 1998 by Science magazine.
Filippenko developed and runs the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT), a fully robotic telescope which conducts the Lick Observatory Supernova Search (LOSS), the most successful nearby supernova search. He is also a member of the Nuker Team which uses the Hubble space telescope to examine supermassive black
Alfred Fowler, FRS (22 March 1868 Yorkshire – 24 June 1940) was an English astronomer. Not to be confused with American astrophysicist William Alfred Fowler.
He was born in Wilsden, Yorkshire and educated at London's Normal School of Science, which was later absorbed into Imperial College, London.
He was appointed Instructor (later Assistant Professor) of Astrophysics at Imperial College and worked there until his death. He was an expert in spectroscopy, being one of the first to determine that the temperature of sunspots was cooler than that of surrounding regions.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1910, when his citation read
Fowler was president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1919 to 1921 and died in Ealing, London in 1940.
Named after him
Asaph Hall III (October 15, 1829 – November 22, 1907) was an American astronomer 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.
Hall was born in Goshen, Connecticut, the son of Asaph Hall II (1800-42), a clockmaker, and Hannah Palmer (1804-80). His grandfather Asaph Hall I was a Revolutionary War officer and Connecticut state legislator. His father died when he was 13, leaving the family in financial difficulty, so Hall left school at 16 to become an apprentice to a carpenter. He later enrolled at the Central College in McGrawville, New York, where he studied mathematics. There he took classes from an instructor of geometry and German, Angeline Stickney. In 1856 they married.
In 1856,Hall took a job at the Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and turned out to be an expert computer of orbits. Hall became assistant astronomer at the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC in 1862, and within a year of his arrival he was made professor.
In 1875 Hall was given responsibility for the USNO 26-inch (66-cm)
The Banū Mūsā brothers ("Sons of Moses"), namely Abū Jaʿfar, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (before 803 – February 873), Abū al‐Qāsim, Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century) and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century), were three 9th-century Persian scholars of Baghdad who are known for their Book of Ingenious Devices on automata (automatic machines) and mechanical devices. Another important work of theirs is the Book on the Measurement of Plane and Spherical Figures, a foundational work on geometry that was frequently quoted by both Islamic and European mathematicians.
The Banu Musa worked in astronomical observatories established in Baghdad by the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma'mun as well as doing research in the House of Wisdom. They also participated in a 9th-century expedition to make geodesic measurements to determine the length of a degree.
The Banu Musa were the three sons of Mūsā ibn Shākir, who earlier in life had been a highwayman and astronomer in Khorasan of unknown pedigree. After befriending al-Maʾmūn, who was then a governor of Khorasan and staying in Marw, Musa was employed as an astrologer and astronomer. After his death, his young sons were looked after by the
Charles Greeley Abbot (1872-1973) was an American astrophysicist and the fifth secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, serving from 1928 until 1944. Abbot went from being director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, to becoming Assistant Secretary, and then Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution over the course of his career. As an astrophysicist, he researched the solar constant, research that led him to invent the solar cooker, solar boiler, solar still, and other patented solar energy inventions.
Charles Greely Abbot was born in Wilton, New Hampshire. His parents were farmers and he was the youngest of four children. As a youth he built and invented numerous things, such as a forge to fix tools, a water wheel to power a saw, and a bicycle. He dropped out of school when he was 13 to become a carpenter. Two years later he went back to high school. He attended Phillips Andover Academy. When a friend of his went to Boston to take the entrance exam to get into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Abbot went for the chance to visit Boston. However, upon arrival, he was uncomfortable visiting Boston alone and chose to take the exam instead. He passed and his family
Charles L. Bennett (born November 1956) is an American observational astrophysicist and the Alumni Centennial Professor of Physics and Astronomy and a Gilman Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. He is the Principal Investigator of NASA's highly successful Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
His National Academy of Sciences (NAS) membership citation states, "As leader of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) mission, Bennett has helped quantify, with unprecedented precision and accuracy, many key properties of the universe, including its age, the dark and baryonic matter content, the cosmological constant, and the Hubble constant." Membership is a great honor bestowed upon the most distinguished scholars in engineering and the sciences. He was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Henry Draper Medal in 2005 and the Comstock Prize in Physics in 2009 , both for his leadership of WMAP. Bennett received the Harvey Prize in 2006 for, "the precise determination of the age, composition and curvature of the universe." Bennett shared the 2010 Shaw Prize in astronomy with Lyman A. Page,Jr. and David N. Spergel, both of Princeton University, for their work on WMAP.
Christiaan Huygens, FRS (/ˈhaɪɡənz/ or /ˈhɔɪɡənz/; [ˈɦœyɣə(n)s] ( listen); 14 April 1629 – 8 July 1695) was a prominent Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist and horologist. His work included early telescopic studies elucidating the nature of the rings of Saturn and the discovery of its moon Titan, the invention of the pendulum clock and other investigations in timekeeping, and studies of both optics and the centrifugal force.
Huygens achieved note for his argument that light consists of waves, now known as the Huygens–Fresnel principle, which two centuries later became instrumental in the understanding of wave-particle duality. He generally receives credit for his discovery of the centrifugal force, the laws for collision of bodies, for his role in the development of modern calculus and his original observations on sound perception (see repetition pitch).
Christiaan Huygens was born in April 1629 at The Hague, the second son of Constantijn Huygens, (1596–1687), friend of mathematician, philosopher and minor physicist René Descartes, and of Suzanna van Baerle (deceased 1637), whom Constantijn had married on 6 April 1627. Christiaan studied law and mathematics at the University
Edward Emerson Barnard (December 16, 1857 – February 6, 1923) was an American astronomer. He was commonly known as E. E. Barnard, and was recognized as a gifted observational astronomer. He is best known for his discovery of Barnard's Star in 1916, which is named in his honor.
Barnard was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to Reuben Barnard and Elizabeth Jane Barnard (née Haywood), and had one brother. His father died three months before his birth, so he grew up in an impoverished family and did not receive much in the way of formal education. His first interest was in the field of photography, and he became a photographer's assistant at the age of nine.
He later developed an interest in astronomy. In 1876 he purchased a 5-inch (130 mm) refractor telescope, and in 1881 he discovered his first comet, but failed to announce his discovery. He found his second comet later the same year and a third in 1882.
While he was still working at a photography studio he was married to the English-born woman Rhoda Calvert in 1881. In the 1880s, Hulbert Harrington Warner offered US$200 per discovery of a new comet. Edward discovered a total of five, and used the money to build a house for himself and
Henry Norris Russell (October 25, 1877 – February 18, 1957) was an American astronomer who, along with Ejnar Hertzsprung, developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram (1910). In 1923, working with Frederick Saunders, he developed Russell–Saunders coupling which is also known as LS coupling. In 1925, he persuaded graduate student Cecilia Payne not to state, in her Ph.D. thesis, her seminal conclusion that the Sun was of a different composition from the Earth. Later, he accepted the conclusion and is often credited with the discovery.
Russell was born in 1877 in Oyster Bay, New York. He studied astronomy at Princeton University, obtaining his B.A. in 1897 and his doctorate in 1899, studying under Charles Augustus Young. From 1903 to 1905, he worked at the Cambridge Observatory with Arthur Robert Hinks as a research assistant of the Carnegie Institution and came under the strong influence of George Darwin.
He returned to Princeton to become an instructor in astronomy (1905–1908), assistant professor (1908–1911), professor (1911–1927) and research professor (1927–1947). He was also the director of the Princeton University Observatory from 1912 to 1947. He died in Princeton, New Jersey in
Ruby Violet Payne-Scott, BSc(Phys) MSc DipEd(Syd) (28 May 1912 – 25 May 1981) was an Australian pioneer in radiophysics and radio astronomy, and was the first female radio astronomer.
Payne-Scott was born in Grafton, New South Wales, Australia, on 28 May 1912. She later moved to Sydney to live with her aunt, and completed secondary schooling at Sydney Girls High School.
She won two scholarships to undertake tertiary education at the University of Sydney, where she completed a B.Sc. in Physics in 1933, an M.Sc. in 1936, and a Diploma of Education in 1938.
One of the more outstanding physicists that Australia has ever produced and one of the first people in the world to consider the possibility of radio astronomy, and thereby responsible for what is now a fundamental part of the modern lexicon of science, she was often the only woman in her classes at the University of Sydney.
Her career arguably reached its zenith while working for the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (then called CSIR, now known as CSIRO) at Dover Heights, Hornsby and especially Potts Hill in Sydney. Some of her fundamental contributions to solar radio astronomy
Sergey Ivanovich Belyavsky (Russian: Серге́й Ива́нович Беля́вский; December 7, 1883 (Julian calendar: November 25) – October 13, 1953) was a Soviet/Russian astronomer.
His last name is also alternatively spelled Beljavskij (name under which the Minor Planet Center credits him) or Beljawskij. His first name is occasionally given as "Sergius".
He was born in St. Petersburg and was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. His field of work included astrophotometry, astrometry, and the study of variable stars. He died in Leningrad.
Discovered the bright naked-eye comet C/1911 S3 (Beljawsky), also known according to the nomenclature of the time as Comet 1911 IV or Comet 1911g.
He discovered or co-discovered a number of asteroids.
He observed at Simeiz Observatory (Симеиз) in Crimea. Between 1937 and 1944 Belyavsky was the seventh director of the Pulkovo Observatory, where he succeeded Boris Petrovich Gerasimovich
Stu Megan, ( Stewart A. Megan, born 1952) now semi-retired, has been a computer software professional since 1968, having worked on early core memory computers such as the LEO Computers LEO III, a room-sized machine that used only switches for control and ferrite rods for memory to working at Netscape as the System Test Engineering Manager for more recent internet technology products such as Netscape's Directory Server (NDS) .
He now owns his own Remote QA TestLab Services Company and several websites. In his spare time, he has been involved in various volunteerism projects. One of these projects was the Spacewatch project. During the time there, he was involved in searching for Near Earth Asteroids. He also created and ran a support site for the astronomers on the project. By analyzing online images, he discovered amongst others, the close-approaching asteroids 2004 BV18 on January 19, 2004 and 2004 UH1 on October 23, 2004. He analysed over 10,000 online images during his time on the project.
In July 2004, the asteroid designated 15462 Stumegan was named 'stumegan' in honor of Stewart A Megan's discovery work at the Spacewatch FMO project. The citation states Stewart A. Megan (b.
William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, Knight of the Order of St Patrick (KP) (17 June 1800 – 31 October 1867) was an Anglo-Irish astronomer who had several telescopes built. His 72-inch telescope "Leviathan", built 1845, was the world's largest telescope until the early 20th century.
He was born in Yorkshire, England, in the city of York, the son of an Irish peer. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Oxford University's Magdalen College, graduating with first-class honors in mathematics in 1822. He inherited an earldom and a large estate in King's County (now County Offaly) in Ireland when his father Lawrence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse died in 1841.
Rosse married Mary Field, daughter of John Wilmer Field, on 14 April 1836. They had four children:
In addition to his astronomical interests, Rosse served as an Member of Parliament (MP) for King's County from 1821 to 1834, an Irish representative peer after 1845, president of the Royal Society (1848–1854), and chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin (1862–1867).
During the 1840s, he had the Leviathan of Parsonstown built, a 72-inch (6 feet/1.83 m) telescope at Birr Castle, Parsonstown, County Offaly. The 72-inch (1.8 m)
George Mary Searle (June 27, 1839–July 7, 1918) was an American astronomer and Catholic priest.
He discovered the asteroid 55 Pandora in 1858. He also discovered six galaxies. In later life he became a member of the Paulist order and taught at the Catholic University of America.
In 1905 Searle published his idea for a possible reform of the Gregorian Calendar. The plan was to have every new year beginning on Sunday, in order to achive a perennial calendar. In common years the new calendar would have 52 weeks exactly, or 364 days, with February shortened to 27 days. In leap years, there would be 53 weeks, or 371 days. The extra week would be added as a holiday week, between April and May. Leap years would occur every fifth year, except for years divisible by 50, and except for one other 5th year in 400. The result would be a calendar with 20,871 weeks in 400 years, equal to the Gregorian Calendar.
Annie Jump Cannon (December 11, 1863 – April 13, 1941) was an American astronomer whose cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures.
The daughter of shipbuilder and state senator Wilson Lee Cannon and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Jump, Cannon grew up in Dover, Delaware. Cannon's mother had a childhood interest in star-gazing, and she passed that interest along to her daughter. She had four older step-siblings from her father's first marriage, as well as two brothers, Robert and Wilson. Cannon never married but was happy to be an aunt to her brother's children.
At Wilmington Conference Academy, Cannon was a promising student, particularly in mathematics. In 1880 Cannon was sent to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, one of the top academic schools for women in the U.S. The cold winter climate in the area led to repeated infections, and in one Cannon was stricken with scarlet fever. As a result, Cannon became almost completely deaf.
Nicolas Camille Flammarion (26 February 1842—3 June 1925) was a French astronomer and author. He was a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and several works about Spiritism and related topics. He also published the magazine L'Astronomie, starting in 1882. He maintained a private observatory at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.
Camille Flammarion was born in Montigny-le-Roi, Haute-Marne, France. He was the brother of Ernest Flammarion (1846–1936), founder of the Groupe Flammarion publishing house. He was a founder and the first president of the Société Astronomique de France, which originally had its own independent journal, BSAF (Bulletin de la Société astronomique de France), first published in 1887. In January, 1895, after 13 volumes of L'Astronomie and 8 of BSAF, the two merged, making L'Astronomie the Bulletin of the Societé. The 1895 volume of the combined journal was numbered 9, to preserve the BSAF volume numbering, but this had the consequence that volumes 9 to 13 of L'Astronomie can each refer to two different publications, five years apart of each other.
The "Flammarion engraving"
Charles Messier (26 June 1730 – 12 April 1817) was a French astronomer most notable for publishing an astronomical catalogue consisting of deep sky objects such as nebulae and star clusters that came to be known as the 110 "Messier objects". The purpose of the catalogue was to help astronomical observers, in particular comet hunters such as himself, distinguish between permanent and transient visually diffuse objects in the sky.
Messier was born in Badonviller in the Lorraine region of France, being the tenth of twelve children of Françoise B. Grandblaise and Nicolas Messier, a Court usher. Six of his brothers and sisters died while young and in 1741, his father died. Charles' interest in astronomy was stimulated by the appearance of the spectacular, great six-tailed comet in 1744 and by an annular solar eclipse visible from his hometown on 25 July 1748.
In 1751 he entered the employ of Joseph Nicolas Delisle, the astronomer of the French Navy, who instructed him to keep careful records of his observations. Messier's first documented observation was that of the Mercury transit of 6 May 1753.
In 1764, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society, in 1769, he was elected a foreign
Sir George Howard Darwin, FRS (9 July 1845 – 7 December 1912) was an English astronomer and mathematician.
Darwin was born at Down House, Kent, the second son and fifth child of Charles and Emma Darwin. He studied under Charles Pritchard, and entered St John's College, Cambridge in 1863, though he soon moved to Trinity College, where his tutor was Edward John Routh. He graduated as second wrangler in 1868, when he was also placed second for the Smith's Prize and was appointed to a college fellowship. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, but returned to science. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June, 1879 and won their Royal Medal in 1884 and their Copley Medal in 1911. He delivered their Bakerian Lecture in 1891 on the subject of "tidal prediction".
In 1883 he became Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He studied tidal forces involving the Sun, Moon, and Earth, and formulated the fission theory of Moon formation.
He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1892, and also later (1899–1901) served as president of that organization.
Darwin married Martha (Maud) du Puy of Philadelphia. They had two
Grigory Nikolayevich Neujmin (Russian: Григорий Николаевич Неуймин; January 3 1886 [O.S. December 22 1885]–December 17, 1946) was a Soviet/Russian astronomer.
He is credited with the discovery of 74 asteroids, and notably 951 Gaspra and 762 Pulcova. The Minor Planet Center credits his discoveries under the name G. N. Neujmin, and his surname appears this way in the literature. However, the modern English transliteration of his name would be Neuymin.
He also discovered or co-discovered a number of periodic comets, including 25D/Neujmin, 28P/Neujmin, 42P/Neujmin, 57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte and 58P/Jackson-Neujmin. The lunar crater Neujmin is named in his honour, as is the asteroid 1129 Neujmina.
Jeremiah Horrocks (1618 – 3 January 1641), sometimes given as Jeremiah Horrox (the Latinised version that he used on the Emmanuel College register and in his Latin manuscripts), was an English astronomer. He was the first person to demonstrate that the Moon moved around the Earth in an elliptical orbit and was the only person to predict the transit of Venus of 1639, an event which he and his friend William Crabtree were the only two people to observe and record. His treatise on the transit, Venus in sole visa, was almost lost to science due to his early death and the chaos brought about by the English civil war, but for this and his other work he has since been hailed as the father of British astronomy.
Jeremiah Horrocks was born at Lower Lodge farm, in Toxteth Park, a former royal deer park, near Liverpool. His father, James, was a watchmaker who had moved to Toxteth Park to be apprenticed to Thomas Aspinwall and subsequently married his master's daughter, Mary. Both families were well educated Puritans; the Horrocks' sent their younger sons to the University of Cambridge and the Aspinwalls favoured Oxford. The unorthodox beliefs of the Puritans excluded them from public office
The Reverend Nathaniel Bliss (28 November 1700 – 2 September 1764) was an English astronomer of the 18th century, serving as Britain's fourth Astronomer Royal between 1762 and 1764.
Bliss was born in the Cotswolds village of Bisley in Gloucestershire and studied at Pembroke College, Oxford. He graduated B.A. in 1720 and M.A. in 1723.
Rector of St Ebb's church in Oxford, he succeeded Edmond Halley as professor of geometry at Oxford University in 1742 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society the same year. He succeeded James Bradley to become the fourth Astronomer Royal in 1762, but held the post for too short a period to make a significant impact.
He died in Oxford, but was buried close to Halley in St Margaret's churchyard in Lee in south-east London.
Sherburne Wesley Burnham (December 12, 1838 – March 11, 1921) was an American astronomer. His parents were Roswell O. and Marinda (née Foote) Burnham.
He worked at Yerkes Observatory. All his working life, he served during the day as a court reporter and was an amateur astronomer, except for four years as a full-time astronomer at Lick Observatory.
He served as a military stenographer in the Union Army in the Civil War. In 1873 – 1874, he produced a catalog of double stars. He became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He continued to identify double stars and later published the General Catalogue of 1290 Double Stars. In 1906, he published the Burnham Double Star Catalogue, containing 13,665 pairs of double stars.
For more than fifty years he spent all his free time observing the heavens, principally concerning himself with binary stars. Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve and Otto Wilhelm von Struve had catalogued a good number of binary stars working at the Observatories of Dorpat and Pulkovo and using 23- and 38-cm telescopes. During the 1840s it was believed that essentially all the binary stars visible to the instruments of the day had been discovered. Burnham, with
Adriaan Blaauw (12 April 1914 – 1 December 2010) was a Dutch astronomer.
Blaauw was born in Amsterdam to Cornelis Blaauw and Gesina Clasina Zwart, and studied at Leiden University and the University of Groningen, obtaining his doctorate at the latter in 1946. In 1948, he was appointed an associate professor at Leiden. In the 1950s he worked a few years at the Yerkes Observatory, before returning to Europe in 1957 to become director of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen. Blaauw was closely involved in the founding of the European Southern Observatory, and was its general director from 1970 to 1975. In 1975, he returned to the Netherlands, becoming a full professor at Leiden, until his retirement in 1981. From 1976 to 1979, he served as president of the International Astronomical Union. He chaired the committee for assigning scientific priorities for the observing programme of the astrometric satellite Hipparcos. His research has involved star formation, the motions of star clusters and stellar associations, and distance scale. His main contributions are the explanation of the origin of stars that move with high velocity in our galaxy and the description of star
Agrippa (unkn-fl. 92 AD) was a Greek astronomer. The only thing that is known about him regards an astronomical observation that he made in 92 AD, which is cited by Ptolemy (Almagest, VII, 3). Ptolemy writes that in the twelfth year of the reign of Domitian, on the seventh day of the Bithynian month Metrous, Agrippa observed the occultation of a part of the Pleiades by the southernmost part of the Moon.
The purpose of Agrippa's observation was probably to check the precession of the equinoxes, which was discovered by Hipparchus.
The lunar crater Agrippa is named after him.
Anders Celsius (27 November 1701 – 25 April 1744) was a Swedish astronomer. He was professor of astronomy at Uppsala University from 1730 to 1744, but traveled from 1732 to 1735 visiting notable observatories in Germany, Italy and France. He founded the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory in 1741, and in 1742 he proposed the Celsius temperature scale which takes his name. The scale was inverted in 1745 by Carl Linnaeus, one year after Celsius' death from tuberculosis.
Anders Celsius was born in Uppsala, Sweden on 27 November 1701. His family originated from Ovanåker in the province of Hälsingland. Their family estate was at Doma, also known as Höjen or Högen (locally as Högen 2). The name Celsius is a latinization of the estate's name (Latin celsus "mound").
As the son of an astronomy professor, Nils Celsius, and the grandson of the mathematician Magnus Celsius and the astronomer Anders Spole, Celsius chose a career in science. He was a talented mathematician from an early age. Anders Celsius studied at Uppsala University, where his father was a teacher, and in 1730 he too, became a professor of astronomy there.
In 1730, he published the Nova Methodus distantiam solis a terra
Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin (February 6, 1865 – September 20, 1939) was an astronomer of French and Huguenot descent. He was born in Antrim, [[Northern Ireland], and educated in England at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He worked at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and went on several solar eclipse expeditions. He was president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1929 to 1931.
An expert on comets, his calculation of orbits of what were then called Comet Forbes 1928 III, Comet Coggia-Winnecke 1873 VII, and Comet Pons 1818 II, in 1929, showed that these comets were one and the same periodic comet. The comet thus received the rather unwieldy name "Comet Pons-Coggia-Winnecke-Forbes". In 1948, he was posthumously honored when the comet was renamed after him alone (today, in modern nomenclature, it is designated 27P/Crommelin). This is similar to the case of Comet Encke, where the periodic comet is named after the person determining the orbit rather than the possibly-multiple discoverers and re-discoverers at each apparition.
Arno Allan Penzias (born 26 April 1933) is an American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics.
Penzias was born in Munich, Germany. At age six he was among the Jewish children evacuated to Britain as part of the Kindertransport rescue operation. Some time later, his parents also fled Nazi Germany for the U.S., and the family settled in the Garment District of New York City in 1940. In 1946, Penzias became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1951 and received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1954. From Columbia University, he received his Master's degree in 1958 and his Ph.D. in 1962.
He went on to work at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, where, with Robert Woodrow Wilson, he worked on ultra-sensitive cryogenic microwave receivers, intended for radio astronomy observations. In 1964, on building their most sensitive antenna/receiver system, the pair encountered radio noise which they could not explain. It was far less energetic than the radiation given off by the Milky Way, and it was isotropic, so they assumed their instrument was subject to interference by terrestrial sources. They tried, and then
Georg Friedrich Julius Arthur von Auwers (September 12, 1838 – January 24, 1915) was a German astronomer. Auwers was born in Göttingen to Gottfried Daniel Auwers and Emma Christiane Sophie (née Borkenstein).
He attended the University of Göttingen and worked at the University of Königsberg. He specialized in astrometry, making very precise measurements of stellar positions and motions. He detected the companion stars of Sirius and Procyon from their effects on the main star's motion, before telescopes were powerful enough to visually observe them. He was from 1866 Secretary to the Berlin Academy, and directed expeditions to measure the transits of Venus, in order to measure the distance from the earth to the Sun more accurately, and therefore be able to more accurately calculate the dimensions of the Solar System with greater precisions. He began a project to unify the all available sky charts, an interest that began with his catalog of nebulae which he published in 1862. He died in Berlin. His grave is preserved in the Protestant Friedhof I der Jerusalems- und Neuen Kirchengemeinde (Cemetery No. I of the congregations of Jerusalem's Church and New Church) in Berlin-Kreuzberg,
Carl Gustav Witt (October 29, 1866 – January 3, 1946) was a German astronomer who used to work at the popular observatory of the Urania astronomical association of Berlin (Urania Sternwarte Berlin).
He wrote a doctoral thesis under the direction of Julius Bauschinger.
He discovered two asteroids, most notably 433 Eros, the first known asteroid with an unusual orbit occasionally approaching the Earth's (today it is classified as an Amor asteroid). The other one, Berolina, bears the Latin name of his adoptive city.
Several decades after his death, minor planet (2732) Witt was named in his honor.
Daniel Kirkwood (September 27, 1814 - June 11, 1895) was an American astronomer.
Born in Harford County, Maryland to John and Agnes (née Hope)Kirkwood, he was graduated in mathematics from the York County Academy in York, Pennsylvania in 1838. After teaching there for five years, he became Principal of the Lancaster High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and after another five years he moved on to become Principal of the Pottsville Academy in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. In 1851 he became Professor of Mathematics at Delaware College and in 1856 Professor of Mathematics at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he stayed until his retirement in 1886, with the exception of two years, 1865–1867, at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
Kirkwood's most significant contribution came from his study of asteroid orbits. When arranging the then-growing number of discovered asteroids by their distance from the Sun, he noted several gaps, now named Kirkwood gaps in his honor, and associated these gaps with orbital resonances with the orbit of Jupiter. Further, Kirkwood also suggested a similar dynamic was responsible for Cassini Division in Saturn's rings, as the result of a
Eugene N. Parker (born June 10, 1927) is an American solar astrophysicist who received his B.S. degree in physics from Michigan State University in 1948 and Ph.D. from Caltech in 1951. In the mid 1950s Parker developed the theory on the supersonic solar wind and predicted the Parker spiral shape of the solar magnetic field in the outer solar system. In 1987, Parker proposed that the solar corona might be heated by myriad tiny "micro-flares", miniature solar flares that occur all over the surface of the Sun.
Parker was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967. As of early 2005, he was still engaged in active research at the University of Chicago. His daughter and son-in-law are both faculty members at Michigan State University.
Parker spent four years at the University of Utah and has been at the University of Chicago since 1955, where he has held positions in the physics department, the astronomy and astrophysics department and the Enrico Fermi Institute. He is the leading authority on the solar wind and the effects of magnetic fields in the heliosphere. His work has greatly increased understanding of the solar corona, the solar wind, the magnetic fields of both the
Ewine van Dishoeck (born 13 June 1955, Leiden) is a Dutch astronomer and chemist. She is Professor of Molecular Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory.
She is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She received the Spinozapremie in 2000, the Bourke Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) in 2001 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society in 1994. She works on interstellar molecules; physical and chemical evolution during star formation and planet formation; submillimeter and mid-infrared astronomy; basic molecular processes; and the radiative transfer of line and continuum radiation.
She was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows.
Van Dishoeck is married to Tim de Zeeuw, also a professor of astronomy at Leiden University and, as of September 2007, Director General of the European Southern Observatory.
Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander (22 March 1799 – 17 February 1875) was a German astronomer. He is known for his determinations of stellar brightnesses, positions, and distances.
Argelander was born in Memel in the Kingdom of Prussia (now Klaipėda in Lithuania), the son of a Finnish father, Johann Gottfried Argelander, and German mother, Wilhelmina Dorotea Grünhagen. He studied with Friedrich Bessel, and obtained his Ph.D. in 1822 at Königsberg. From 1823 until 1837, Argelander was the head of the Finnish observatory at Turku then at Helsinki. He then moved to Bonn, Germany. There he developed a friendship with King Frederick William IV, who funded a new observatory at the University of Bonn.
Argelander excelled in developing effective, simple and fast methods for measuring star positions and magnitudes, thereby making a pioneering work for modern astronomy. He also measured star distances with heliometers. His, and his collaborators', great practical works of star cataloging and variable star research were made possible by the systematic usage of then newly developed techniques.
Argelander was the first astronomer to begin a careful study of variable stars. Only a handful were
Sir George Biddell Airy KCB PRS (/ˈɛəri/; 27 July 1801 – 2 January 1892) was an English mathematician and astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the Earth, a method of solution of two-dimensional problems in solid mechanics and, in his role as Astronomer Royal, establishing Greenwich as the location of the prime meridian. His reputation has been tarnished by allegations that, through his inaction, Britain lost the opportunity of priority in the discovery of Neptune.
Airy was born at Alnwick, one of a long line of Airys who traced their descent back to a family of the same name residing at Kentmere, in Westmorland, in the 14th century. The branch to which he belonged, having suffered in the English Civil War, moved to Lincolnshire and became farmers. Airy was educated first at elementary schools in Hereford, and afterwards at Colchester Royal Grammar School. An introverted child, Airy gained popularity with his schoolmates through his great skill in the construction of peashooters.
From the age of 13, Airy stayed frequently with his uncle, Arthur Biddell at Playford, Suffolk. Biddell
Guo Shoujing (Chinese: 郭守敬; pinyin: Guō Shǒujìng; Wade–Giles: Kuo Shou-ching, 1231–1316), courtesy name Ruosi (若思), was a Chinese astronomer, engineer, and mathematician born in Xingtai, Hebei who lived during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). The later Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1591–1666) was so impressed with the preserved astronomical instruments of Guo that he called him "the Tycho Brahe of China."
In 1231, in Xingtai, Hebei province, China, Guo Shoujing was born into a poor family. He was raised primarily by his paternal grandfather, Guo Yong, who was famous throughout China for his expertise in a wide variety of topics, ranging from the study of the Five Classics to astronomy, mathematics, and hydraulics. Guo Shoujing was a child prodigy, showing exceptional promise. By his teens, he obtained a blueprint for a water clock which his grandfather was working on, and realized its principles of operation. He improved the design of a type of water clock called a lotus clepsydra, a water clock with a bowl shaped like a lotus flower on the top into which the water dripped. After he had mastered the construction of such water clocks, he began to study mathematics at the age of 16. From
Halton Christian Arp (aka "Chip") is an American astronomer. He is known for his 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, which (it was later realized) catalogues many examples of interacting and merging galaxies. Arp is also known as a critic of the Big Bang theory and for advocating a non-standard cosmology incorporating intrinsic redshift.
Arp was born March 21, 1927, in New York City. He has been married three times, has four daughters and four grandchildren. His bachelor's degree was awarded by Harvard (1949), and his Ph.D. by Caltech (1953). Afterward he became a Fellow of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1953, performing research at the Mount Wilson Observatory and Palomar Observatory. Arp became a Research Assistant at Indiana University in 1955, and then in 1957 became a staff member at Palomar Observatory, where he worked for 29 years. In 1983 he joined the staff of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany.
Arp compiled a catalog of unusual galaxies titled Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, which was first published in 1966. Arp realized that astronomers understood little about how galaxies change over time, which led him to work on this project. This atlas was
James Bradley FRS (March 1693 – 13 July 1762) was an English astronomer and served as Astronomer Royal from 1742, succeeding Edmund Halley. He is best known for two fundamental discoveries in astronomy, the aberration of light (1725–1728), and the nutation of the Earth's axis (1728–1748). These discoveries were called "the most brilliant and useful of the century" by Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, historian of astronomy, mathematical astronomer and director of the Paris Observatory, in his history of astronomy in the 18th century (1821), because "It is to these two discoveries by Bradley that we owe the exactness of modern astronomy. .... This double service assures to their discoverer the most distinguished place (after Hipparchus and Kepler) above the greatest astronomers of all ages and all countries."
Bradley was born at Sherborne, near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, to William Bradley and Jane Pound in March 1693. He entered Balliol College, Oxford, on 15 March 1711, and took degrees of B.A. and M.A. in 1714 and 1717 respectively. His early observations were made at the rectory of Wanstead in Essex, under the tutelage of the Rev. James Pound, his uncle and a skilled
James Edward Keeler (September 10, 1857 – August 12, 1900) was an American astronomer.
Keeler worked at Lick Observatory beginning in 1888, but left after being appointed director of the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory in 1891. He returned to Lick Observatory as its director in 1898, but died not long after in 1900. His ashes were interred in a crypt at the base of the 31-inch Keeler Memorial telescope at the Allegheny Observatory.
Along with George Hale, Keeler founded and edited the Astrophysical Journal, which remains a major journal of astronomy today.
His parents were William F. and Anna (née Dutton) Keeler. He had married in 1891 and left a widow and two children.
Keeler was the first to observe the gap in Saturn's rings now known as the Encke Gap, using the 36-inch refractor at Lick Observatory on 7 January 1888. After this feature had been named for Johann Encke, who had observed a much broader variation in the brightness of the A Ring, Keeler's contributions were brought to light. The second major gap in the A Ring, discovered by Voyager, was named the Keeler Gap in his honor.
In 1895, his spectroscopic study of the rings of Saturn revealed that different
Johan Maurits Mohr (ca. 18 August 1716, Eppingen – 25 October 1775, Batavia) was a Dutch-German pastor who studied at Groningen University from 1733 and settled in Batavia (Dutch East Indies) in 1737. Mohr's greatest passion was in astronomy but he was also keenly interested in meteorology and in vulcanology.
In 1765 Mohr built a large private observatory that was equipped with the best astronomical instruments of his time. His observatory, which had cost him a small fortune, was visited and praised by Louis Antoine de Bougainville and James Cook.
Mohr observed the Venus transits of 6 June 1761 and 3 June 1769 and the Mercury transit of 10 November 1769. He also made meteorological observations and measurements of the magnetic declination at Batavia.
After Mohr's death his observatory was damaged by an earthquake in 1780, fell into ruin and was demolished in 1812.
The minor planet 5494 Johanmohr is named in his honour.
Johann Palisa (December 6, 1848 – May 2, 1925) was an Austrian astronomer, born in Troppau in Austrian Silesia (now in the Czech Republic).
He was a prolific discoverer of asteroids, discovering 122 in all, from 136 Austria in 1874 to 1073 Gellivara in 1923. Some of his notable discoveries include 153 Hilda, 216 Kleopatra, 243 Ida, 253 Mathilde, 324 Bamberga, and the Amor asteroid 719 Albert.
The asteroid 914 Palisana and the crater Palisa on the Moon were named in his honour.
From 1866 to 1870, Palisa studied mathematics and astronomy at the University of Vienna; however, he did not graduate until 1884. Despite this, by 1870 he was an assistant at the University's observatory, and a year later gained a position at the observatory in Geneva. A few years later, in 1872, at the age of 24, Palisa became the director of the Austrian Naval Observatory in Pula. While at Pula, he discovered his first asteroid, 136 Austria, on March 18, 1874. Along with this, he discovered twenty-seven minor planets and one comet. During his stay in Pula he used a small six-inch refractor telescope to aid in his research.
John Couch Adams (5 June 1819 – 21 January 1892) was a British mathematician and astronomer. Adams was born in Laneast, near Launceston, Cornwall, and died in Cambridge. The Cornish name Couch is pronounced "cooch".
His most famous achievement was predicting the existence and position of Neptune, using only mathematics. The calculations were made to explain discrepancies with Uranus's orbit and the laws of Kepler and Newton. At the same time, but unknown to each other, the same calculations were made by Urbain Le Verrier. Le Verrier would assist Berlin Observatory astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle in locating the planet on 23 September 1846, which was found within 1° of its predicted location, a point in Aquarius. (There was, and to some extent still is, some controversy over the apportionment of credit for the discovery; see Discovery of Neptune.)
He was Lowndean Professor at the University of Cambridge for thirty-three years from 1859 to his death. He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1866. In 1884, he attended the International Meridian Conference as a delegate for Britain.
A crater on the Moon is jointly named after him, Walter Sydney Adams and Charles
John Louis Emil Dreyer (February 13, 1852 – September 14, 1926) was a Danish-Irish astronomer.
He was born Johan Ludvig Emil Dreyer in Copenhagen: his father, Lieutenant General John Christopher Dreyer, was the Danish Minister for War and the Navy. He was educated in Copenhagen but in 1874, at the age of 22, he went to Parsonstown, Ireland. There he worked as the assistant of Lord Rosse (the son and successor of the Lord Rosse who built the Leviathan of Parsonstown telescope).
During 1878 he moved to Dunsink, the site of the Trinity College Observatory of Dublin University to work for Robert Stawell Ball. In 1882 he relocated again, this time to Armagh Observatory, where he served as Director until his retirement in 1916. In 1885 he became a British citizen. In 1916 he and his wife Kate moved to Oxford where Dreyer worked on his 15 volume edition of the works of Tycho Brahe, the last volume of which was published after his death.
He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1916 and served as the society's president from 1923 until 1925. He died on September 14, 1926 in Oxford.
A crater on the far side of the Moon is named after him.
His major contribution was the
Petrus Alphonsi (also known as Peter Alfonsi; born Moses Sephardi) was a Jewish Spanish physician, writer, astronomer, and polemicist, who converted to Christianity.
Born at an unknown date in the 11th century in Huesca, when the city still was part of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain), he embraced Christianity and was baptized at Huesca on St. Peter's Day, 29 June 1106. In honor of the saint Peter, and of his royal patron the Aragonese King Alfonso I and godfather he took the name of Petrus Alfonsi (Alfonso's Peter).
Petrus was born a Jew while living in al-Andalus, and after he rose to prominence, he converted to Christianity. This environment gave him an advantageous knowledge of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that would later prove useful in his polemics. John Tolan mentioned in his book Petrus Alfonsi and His Medieval Readers that "Alfonsi’s texts were received enthusiastically—he became an auctor, an authority to be quoted. His success was due in large part to his ability to bridge several cultures: a Jew from the [Muslim] world of al-Andalus." His knowledge of these different religions is what makes Alfonsi unique and why he is essential to be studied when looking at anti-Judaic
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (/ləˈplɑːs/; French: [laplas]; 23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827) was a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the so-called Bayesian interpretation of probability was mainly developed by Laplace.
Laplace formulated Laplace's equation, and pioneered the Laplace transform which appears in many branches of mathematical physics, a field that he took a leading role in forming. The Laplacian differential operator, widely used in mathematics, is also named after him. He restated and developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system and was one of the first scientists to postulate the existence of black holes and the notion of gravitational collapse.
Laplace is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Sometimes referred to as the French Newton or Newton of France, he possessed a
Ruđer Josip Bošković (pronounced [rûd͡ʑɛr jɔ̌sip bɔ̂ʃkɔʋit͡ɕ]) (see names in other languages; 18 May 1711 – 13 February 1787) was a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian, Jesuit priest, and a polymath from the city of Dubrovnik in the Republic of Ragusa (today Croatia), who studied and lived in Italy and France where he also published many of his works.
He is famous for his atomic theory and made many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position. In 1753 he also discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon.
Bošković was born in Dubrovnik to Nikola Bošković and Paola Bettera, and was baptized on 26 May 1711 by Marinus Carolis, curatus et sacristia. The name Ruđer/Ruggiero may have been given to him because both his great-grandfather Agostino Bettera and his mother's brother were called Ruggiero, the godparent was his uncle Ruggiero Bettera. He was the seventh child of the family and the second youngest. His father was a merchant born in
William Cranch Bond (September 9, 1789 – January 29, 1859) was an American astronomer, and the first director of Harvard College Observatory.
William Cranch Bond was born in Falmouth, Maine (now Portland) on September 9, 1789. When he was young, his father, William Bond, established himself as a clockmaker after a failed business venture; trained by his father and aided by his penchant for engineering, W. C. Bond built his first clock when he was fifteen years old. He eventually took over his father’s business, becoming an expert clockmaker himself.
In 1806, when he was seventeen years old, Bond saw a solar eclipse. Soon thereafter, he became an avid amateur astronomer. When he built his first house, Bond made its parlor an observatory, complete with an opening in the ceiling out of which his telescope could view the sky.
In 1815, Bond traveled to Europe, commissioned by Harvard University to gather information on European observatories. On 18 July 1819 at Kingsbridge in Devon, Bond married his first cousin, Selina Cranch, who bore him four sons and two daughters. After Selina's death in 1831, Bond married her older sister, Mary Roope Cranch.
In 1839, Bond was allowed to move his
Sir Frederick William Herschel, KH, FRS (German: Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel; 15 November 1738 – 25 August 1822) was a German-born British astronomer, technical expert, and composer. Born in Hanover, Germany, Herschel followed his father into the Military Band of Hanover, before emigrating to Britain at age 19. He became famous for his discovery of the planet Uranus, along with two of its major moons (Titania and Oberon), and also discovered two moons of Saturn. In addition, he was the first person to discover the existence of infrared radiation. He is known, as well, for the twenty-four symphonies that he composed.
Herschel was born in Hanover, Electorate of Hanover, one of ten children of Isaak and Anna Ilse, née Moritzen, Herschel. His father was an oboist in the Hannover Military Band. In 1755 the Hannoverian Guards regiment, in whose band Wilhelm and his brother Jakob were engaged as oboists, was ordered to England. At the time the crowns of Great Britain and Hannover were united under George II. As the threat of war with France loomed, the Hannoverian Guard was recalled from England to defend Hannover. After the Hannoverian guard was defeated at the Battle of Hastenbeck,