Astronomy doesnīt just happen. People do it. And sometimes rather than use robot probes, people also explore space. Here the stories of some of those people, both past and present.
Annie Jump Cannon
Oh! Be a fine girl (guy)--kiss me! This is the traditional mnemonic for the way stars are classified: OBAFGKM. Find out about the astronomer and suffragette who devised the system and who said that astronomical spectroscopy made it "almost as if the distant stars had acquired speech."
Astrofest 2012: "The Universe under one roof." We saw aurorae and learned about solar storms, dark matter and the beginning of the Universe. There were telescopes galore and an unusual demonstration of spectroscopy.
European Astrofest came of age in 2013, celebrating its 21st birthday. It was a memorable anniversary with a fantastic selection of speakers at sold-out lectures, busy exhibition stands, enthusiastic visitors, happy meetings and some sad farewells.
Astronomers on the Mountain Tops
Big telescopes on high mountains, drawing astronomers to some exotic-sounding places. Is it as glamorous as it sounds? Not really, says one astronomer who describes some of the symptoms people suffer at high altitudes.
Astronomy Day - Bringing Astronomy to the People
Astronomy Day has been an annual celebration of astronomy for over thirty-five years of "bringing astronomy to the people." See if you can find an event near you. If not, create your own event by skywatching with a friend - our Absolute Beginners guides will help you out.
Bode and Bodeīs Law
Johann Elert Bode, the author of the greatest star atlas of the Golden Age of star atlases, is better known today for Bodeīs Law. Strangely, Bodeīs Law is neither a law nor original to Bode. So what was it? How did it inspire the Celestial Police? How did Neptune ruin it all?
Caroline Herschel was an intelligent young woman trapped in domestic servitude by her mother. Her brother William rescued her and trained her as a singer. After he discovered the planet Uranus, the two of them ended up forming a great partnership whose work revolutionized the study of astronomy.
Carrying the Fire - Book Review
What was it like to be one-third of the Apollo 11 crew? Michael Collins, the man in the command module that didnīt land on the Moon, tells a fascinating story of astronaut training and space travel. Originally published in 1974, a Fortieth Anniversary edition of Carrying the Fire was issued.
Ceres Facts for Kids
Bodeīs Law predicted a planet between Mars and Jupiter. The Sky Police were looking for it, but Giuseppe Piazzi found it. Then someone found another one. And another one. We know of hundreds of thousands of asteroids now. Discover Ceres - planet, asteroid and dwarf planet.
Chemical Cosmos - book review
"The Chemical Cosmos: A Guided Tour" is an astronomy book about chemistry - or perhaps a chemistry book about astronomy. Itīs an engrossing guided tour that will take you from the baby Universe through the first stars, the formation of solar systems and to our search for the origins of life.
Christmas in the Skies
Christmas is a special day with a magic of its own. A Christmas eclipse is a great treat and centuries ago a long-awaited comet finally showed up on Christmas day. On the other hand, imagine spending the holidays a quarter of a million miles from home as the crew of Apollo 8 did.
Copernicus - His Life
The day job of one reluctant revolutionary was canon of a cathedral. And the last resting place of the man who turned astronomy on its head, Nicolaus Copernicus, was unmarked. How did his student astronomy books help to identify his remains four and a half centuries later?
Copernicus - the Revolution
In the 16th century everyone knew that Earth was the center of the cosmos. But this made it impossible to predict the motions of heavenly bodies, even if they moved in elaborate circles within circles. Copernicus turned the idea on its head and put the Sun at the center. A revolution had begun!
Copernicus for Kids
Since the name of Nicolaus Copernicus is still well known nearly five hundred years after his death, why was his grave unmarked until 2010? Find out about the life of the quiet revolutionary that turned our view of the universe inside out.
Cosmic 4th of July
What links the USAīs Independence Day holiday, the Crab Nebula and NASAīs Deep Impact spacecraft? What links the American War of Independence with the planet Uranus? And what is the Fireworks Galaxy? Read on to find out.
Dark Matter - Poems of Space - book review
What do poets see when they look at the heavens? And astronomers? Are the experiences completely different or different sides of the same sense of wonder? This collection of poems, edited by a poet and an astrophysicist, is a treasure trove. Thereīs something here for everyone.
Halley didn't discover a comet, but he did research and published papers in astronomy and many other fields. Russian Czar Peter the Great liked him as a dining and drinking companion and King William III put this civilian in charge of a Royal Navy ship. But how did he get a comet named for him?
Empire of the Stars - book review
A fateful meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London adversely affected the lives of two scientists and hindered progress in the study of black holes for a half a century. So says the author of Empire of the Stars. Liked the book, but wasn't convinced.
First Orbit - film review
On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin saw what no human had ever seen before: the Earth from space. Now "First Orbit" allows you to imagine that you are making the historic voyage. Film shot from the International Space Station creates the views, but you'll also have Philip Sheppard's music.
Galileoīs Daughter - book review
Most people think of Galileo as the man who is a symbol of the heroic voice of truth against a powerful reactionary Church. However this mythic Galileo is not the one Dava Sobelīs book, "Galileoīs Daughter", reveals through his faith, his work and his daughterīs love.
Gravity - Cosmic Glue
Aristotleīs perfect cosmos didnīt need gravity to hold it together. However the system with planets orbiting the Sun called for an explanation. In the process, Newton was inspired by a falling apple, but Galileoīs experiments with falling bodies didnīt involve dropping them off the Tower of Pisa.
Henrietta Swan Leavitt
Henrietta Leavitt isn't a well known name, but a century ago she made one of the most important discoveries of 20th century astronomy. Previously, astronomers could only measure distances up to 100 light years, but her work extended that to 10 million light years.
Herschel Museum of Astronomy
In 1781 William Herschel was the first person in history to discover a new planet. He was observing in the back garden of his home in Bath, England. The house where history was made is a museum and its new Caroline Lucretia Gallery is named for William's sister, the first woman to discover a comet.
Herschel Partnership - for Kids
The Herschels were the greatest astronomical family of all time. A partnership of two brothers and a sister built the best telescopes of their time, and with those telescopes mapped the deep sky. They changed the way astronomers understood the heavens.
In the Shadow of the Moon - film review
What would it be like to leave Earthīs protective embrace and journey to an alien world? Only twenty-four men have ever experienced this - Apollo astronauts. "In the Shadow of the Moon" uses original footage & astronaut interviews to tell the story of one of the defining events of human history.
Isaac Newton - His Life
Isaac Newton's thinking about gravitation really was stimulated by seeing an apple fall, but not on his head! Find out more about the troubled child and and indifferent school pupil who became a dominant figure in science, and still is nearly three hundred years after his death.
Which 17th century brewer created ten new constellations? Johannes Hevelius, astronomer, civic leader, instrument-maker, writer, engraver and publisher. He died before finishing his great star atlas, so his wife Elisabetha - also an astronomer - finished the editing and oversaw its publication.
Johannes Kepler - His Life
Johannes Kepler gave the first accurate description of the Solar System. As he did his work, he struggled with poverty, insecurity and bereavement in troubled times. Religion and warfare were tearing Europe apart, but Kepler never gave up his quest to understand the cosmos.
An observatory that a king built to watch the 1769 transit of Venus. The place where official time for London used to be set. Where a murderer was sometimes in attendance when the King walked in the gardens. Find out about the history of Kew Observatory.
Le Gentil - Heroic Failure
Here's the story of Guillaume Le Gentil who went to India to observe the transit of Venus in 1761 and took eleven years to get home again. War and weather conspired to prevent his making observations and illness further delayed his return. Was he the unluckiest astronomer ever?
Maria Mitchell was a true pioneer woman. She didn't brave a physical wilderness. Hers was the harder job of pioneering higher education for women. She was the first American woman to discover a comet, the first to be elected to scientific societies and the first woman professor of astronomy.
Packing for Mars - book review
If you think being an astronaut is a glamorous occupation, Mary Roachīs book Packing for Mars will bring you down to Earth. Playing in free-fall looks like fun, but without gravity, eating, hygiene and dealing with waste are not fun. Hereīs the lowdown. Still want to go to Mars?
Seeing in the Dark - book review
Does amateur equal incompetence? No, says Timothy Ferris in a superb book exploring the role of amateur astronomers in probing the heavens. He reminds us that the root of the word amateur is love, and interweaves the stories of these lovers of astronomy with a grand tour of the universe.
The Wizard Earl, the start of astronomy with a telescope, Sir Walter Raleigh, Virginia, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Smithsonian. What does all of this history have in common? Syon Park, a stately home on the River Thames.
The Transit of Venus - book review
In the north of England in the early 17th century, there was an amazing circle of astronomers. They were well ahead of their time and included the first two people ever to observe a transit of Venus. What ended this brief flowering? Peter Aughton tells the story.
Top Astronomy Stories 2012
What were the big astronomy stories of the year 2012? Here is my choice of the top ten plus a non-story. What do you think?
One of the greatest astronomers of all time was a Danish nobleman with a metal nose, who was also a publisher, an alchemist and the Imperial Mathematician. His astronomical observations were the key to the modern view of the Solar System.
What Herschel Found in a Dark Cloud
Whatīs hiding within an impenetrable dark cloud in the constellation of the Eagle? A stunning stellar nursery. Find out how the Herschel Space Observatory was able to photograph it.
What is Hanny's Voorwerp
Hanny's Voorwerp was first seen in 2007 - a strange blue blob in the constellation of Leo Minor. Since then it has been imaged by large telescopes in visible light, ultraviolet light, infrared light, radio waves and x-rays, but astronomers still don't entirely agree about the mystery object.
Whatīs in a Name
Things arenīt always what they seem. Many discoveries arenīt named for or by their discoverers. Halley didnīt discover Comet Halley. Kuiper said the Kuiper Belt didnīt exist. The Herschels called Uranus "the Georgian planet" after George III of England, but no one else did.
Young Astronomers at Work
Telescopes are essential for astronomy, but you donīt need one of your own. A computer can be the right instrument. Big telescopes collect data faster than professionals can process it, so amateurs can help. There is also room for individual ingenuity. See what some young astronomers have done.
Young Astronomers Reveal the Universe Astronomy Homepage | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Astronomy Site Map
In the film Deep Impact a teenage astronomer discovers a comet with a small telescope. In reality, teenage astronomers are more likely to make their discoveries in front of a computer - finding supernovae, pulsars, asteroids. The youngest discoverer was ten. Let them inspire you.
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