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People in Astronomy


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Adams, John Couch 1819-1892
English astronomer and mathematician. At the age of 24, Adams was the first person to predict the position of a planetary mass beyond Uranus. After Johann Gottfried Galle confirmed the existence of Neptune based on independent calculations done by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, the two became embroiled in a dispute over priority.


Barnard, Edward Emerson 1857-1923
American astronomer. Barnard discovered Jupiter's satellite Amalthea and Barnard's star, the second-nearest star system to the Sun.
Bode, Johann 1747-1826
German astronomer. He is known for the bogus "Bode's Law" which attempts to explain the sizes of the planetary orbits.
Bond, William Cranch 1789-1859
American astronomer. One of the earliest American astronomers of note, Bond rose from poverty and overcame a lack of formal education to become the first director of the Harvard College Observatory. At the observatory, he studied Saturn and (with William Lassell) discovered its moon Hyperion.
Brahe, Tycho 1546-1601
Danish astronomer. His accurate astronomical observations formed the basis for Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion.


Cassini, Giovanni Domenico 1625-1712
(Aka Jean Dominique) Italian-born French astronomer. Cassini was the first director of the Royal Observatory in Paris. He discovered four of Saturn's moons (Tethys, Dione, Rhea and Iapetus) and the major gap in its rings.
Copernicus, Nicolaus 1473-1543
Polish astronomer who advanced the heliocentric theory that the earth and other planets revolve around the Sun. This was highly controversial at the time; the Ptolemaic view of the universe, which was the prevailing theory for more than 1000 years, was deeply ingrained in the prevailing philosophy and religion.



Einstein, Albert 1879-1955
German-American physicist. Einstein developed the Special and General Theories of Relativity, which along with Quantum Mechanics, forms the foundation of modern physics.


Franklin, Benjamin 1706-1790
American public official, writer, and scientist. Franklin played a major role in the American Revolution and helped draft the Constitution. His numerous scientific and practical innovations include the lightning rod, bifocal spectacles, and a stove.


Galle, Johann Gottfried 1812-1910
German astronomer. Galle, along with Heinrich Louis d'Arrest, made the first observation of Neptune based on calculations by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier. Although Galle was the first to observe Neptune, its discovery is usually credited to John Couch Adams (who made an earlier calculation) and Le Verrier.
Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
Italian astronomer and physicist. The first to use a telescope to study the stars. Discoverer of the first moons of an extraterrestrial body (see Galilean Moons). Galileo was an outspoken supporter of Copernicus's heliocentric theory. In reaction to Galileo, the Church declared it heresy to teach that the Earth moved and imprisoned him. The Church clung to this position for 350 years until Galileo was formally exonerated in 1992.
George III 1738-1820
King of Great Britain and Ireland (1760-1820). His government's policies fed American colonial discontent, leading to revolution in 1776.


Hall, Asaph 1829-1907
American astronomer. Hall discovered the two moons of Mars, Deimos and Phobos.
Halley, Edmund 1656-1742
English astronomer. Halley applied Newton's laws of motion to predict correctly the period of the comet which now bears his name.
Herschel, Sir William 1738-1822
British astronomer. Herschel discovered Uranus and cataloged more than 800 double stars and 2,500 nebulae.
Huygens, Christiaan 1629-1695
Dutch physicist and astronomer. Huygens first described the nature of Saturn's rings (1655) and discovered its moon Titan. He also pioneered the use of the pendulum in clocks.




Kepler, Johannes 1571-1630
German astronomer and mathematician. Considered a founder of modern astronomy, he formulated the famous three laws of planetary motion. They comprise a quantitative formulation of Copernicus's theory that the planets revolve around the Sun.
Kowal, Charles T. 1940-
American astronomer. Kowal discovered Leda and comet-like object Chiron.
Kuiper, Gerard, 1905-1973
Dutch-born American astronomer. Kuiper is best known for his study of the surface of the Moon. He discovered Miranda and Nereid and found an atmosphere on Titan.


Lagrange, Joseph Louis 1736-1813
French mathematician and astronomer. Lagrange made a number of contributions to the study of celestial mechanics. He showed that three bodies can lie at the apexes of an equilateral triangle which rotates in its plane. If one of the bodies is sufficiently massive compared with the other two, then the triangular configuration is apparently stable. Several examples are known in the solar system: Such bodies are sometimes refered to as Trojans. The leading apex of the triangle is known as the leading Lagrange point or L4; the trailing apex is the trailing Lagrange point or L5.
Lassell, William 1799-1880
British astronomer. Lassell discovered Neptune's largest satellite, Triton and (with William Cranch Bond) discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion. A successful brewer before turning to astronomy.
Le Verrier, Urbain Jean Joseph 1811-1877
French astronomer. La Verrier's prediction of the position of an undiscovered planet (Neptune) that caused perturbations in the orbit of Uranus was the first to be confirmed (by Johann Gottfried Galle). However, John Couch Adams had made a similar prediction some months earlier.
Lowell, Percival 1855-1916.
American astronomer. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Arizona (1894), where his studies of Mars led him to believe that the planet was inhabited. His successors later discovered Pluto.


Marius, Simon 1573-1624
(Aka Mayr) German astronomer. Marius gave Jupiter's "Galilean" moons their names. He and Galileo both claimed to have discovered them in 1610 and likely did so independently. They became involved in a dispute over priority. Marius was also the first to observe the Andromeda Nebula with a telescope and one of the first to observe sunspots.


Newton, Isaac 1642-1727
English mathematician and physicist. Newton invented calculus, discovered the classical laws of motion and gravity, built the first reflecting telescope, and demonstrated the compound nature of white light, in the process laying the foundations of spectroscopy.
Nicholson, Seth Barnes 1891-1963
American astronomer. Nicholson discovered Lysithea, Ananke, Carme and Sinope. He also did important work on sunspots.


Oort, Jan Hendrik 1900-1992
Dutch astronomer. Oort made major contributions to knowledge of the structure and rotation of our galaxy. More or less as a sideline, Oort studied comets as well. The result of this work was a theory, now widely accepted, that the Sun is surrounded by a distant cloud of cometary material, now called the Oort Cloud, bits of which are occasionally hurled into the Solar System as comets.


Perrine, Charles Dillon 1867-1951
Argentine-American astronomer. Perrine discovered Himalia and Elara.
Pickering, William Henry 1858-1938
American astronomer. His photographs of Mars, among the earliest obtained, provided a basis for his opposition to Lowell's observations of supposed canals on Mars. Discovered Saturn's moon Phoebe.
Pope, Alexander 1688-1744
English writer best remembered for his satirical mock-epic poems The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad.
Ptolemy, 2nd century AD
Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who based his astronomy on the belief that all heavenly bodies revolve around the earth.




Shakespeare, William 1564-1616
English playwright and poet.


Tombaugh, Clyde 1906-
American astronomer. Tombaugh discovered Pluto.



Van Allen, James A.
American physicist. Van Allen discovered the Earth's radiation belts, which now bear his name, with an instrument aboard the first successful American satellite, Explorer 1.
Verne, Jules 1828-1905
French writer. Verne is considered to be the founder of modern science fiction. His novels include "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "From the Earth to the Moon".








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