Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18: Arthur Scott King

Arthur Scott King
January 18, 1876 – April 17, 1957

Arthur Scott King was an American physicist and astrophysicist.

In 1895 Arthur graduated from Fresno High School, then attended the University of California, Berkeley. He developed an interest in physics, and in 1899 he was admitted into their graduate school. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1903, the first ever Ph.D. in physics awarded by that university.

After winning a Whiting Fellowship, he spent two years in Germany, studying at Bonn and Berlin and travelling in Europe. His academic interests were focused on spectroscopy, and at the time these institutions were leaders in the field.

In 1905 he returned to Berkeley and became an instructor. The following year published a paper describing the use of an electric furnace for use in spectroscopy.

He was offered a position at Mt. Wilson Observatory in 1907, and took his leave from Berkeley. He spent much of the remainder of his career studying the spectra of elements and molecules, with particular focus on rare earth elements. He also performed studies of meteors, including their spectra and directional paths. In 1929, he collaborated with Dr. Raymond T. Birge to discover the isotope Carbon-13, based on differences in the spectrum.

Between 1901 and his retirement he published well over 200 papers in scientific journals. He served as president of the American Meteorical Society for a period, and also as president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1941. In 1943 he retired, but he became involved in war research at CalTech. There he studied the ballistics of torpedoes launched from aircraft.

The crater King on the far side of the Moon was co-named for him and Edward S. King.

Today in Astronomy: January 18: Warren De la Rue
The Astronomy Compendium: January 18

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16: Johannes Schöner

Johannes Schöner
January 16, 1477 – January 16, 1547

Johannes Schöner was a renowned and respected German polymath. It is best to refer to him using the usual 16th century Latin term "mathematicus", as the areas of study to which he devoted his life were very different from those now considered to be the domain of the mathematician. He was a priest, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, cosmographer, cartographer, mathematician, globe and scientific instrument maker and editor and publisher of scientific tests.

In his own time he enjoyed a European-wide reputation as an innovative and influential globe maker and cosmographer and as one of the continents leading and most authoritative astrologers. Today he is remembered as an influential pioneer in the history of globe making and as a man who played a significant role in the events that led up to the publishing of Copernicus' "De revolutionibus" in Nürnberg in 1543.

Schöner had made still unpublished data of Mercury observations from Walther available to Copernicus, 45 observations in total, 14 of them with longitude and latitude. Copernicus used three of them in "De revolutionibus", giving only longitudes, and falsely attributing them to Schöner. The values differed slightly from the ones published by Schöner in 1544.

In 1538, Georg Joachim Rheticus, a young professor of mathematics at Wittenberg, stayed for some time with Schöner who convinced him to visit Nicolaus Copernicus in Frauenburg. In 1540, Rheticus dedicated the first published report of Copernicus work, the Narratio prima, to Schöner. As this was well received, Copernicus finally agreed to publish his main work, and Rheticus prepared Copernicus' manuscript for printing.

A crater on Mars is named in his honor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12: Royal Aeronautical Society

The Royal Aeronautical Society

Founded in 1866 the Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.

The objectives of The Royal Aeronautical Society include; to support and maintain the highest professional standards in all aerospace disciplines; to provide a unique source of specialist information and a local forum for the exchange of ideas; and to exert influence in the interests of aerospace in both the public and industrial arenas.

Throughout the world's aerospace community the name of The Royal Aeronautical Society is widely known and respected. Many practitioners from all disciplines within the aerospace industry use the Society's designatory post-nominals such as FRAeS, CRAeS, MRAeS, AMRAeS, and ARAeS (incorporating the former graduate grade, GradRAeS).

The Staff of the Royal Aeronautical Society are based at the Society's headquarters at No.4 Hamilton Place, London. Although centred in the United Kingdom, the Royal Aeronautical Society is a worldwide society with an international network of 63 branches.

The Astronomy Compendium: January 12

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11: Lunar Prospector

Lunar Prospector entered lunar orbit on January 11, 1998.

The Lunar Prospector mission was the third selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events. The mission ended July 31, 1999, when the orbiter was deliberately crashed into a permanently shadowed area of the Shoemaker crater near the lunar south pole in an unsuccessful attempt to detect the presence of water.

Data from the mission allowed the construction of a detailed map of the surface composition of the Moon, and helped to improve understanding of the origin, evolution, current state, and resources of the Moon. Several articles on the scientific results were published in the journal Science.

Lunar Prospector was managed out of NASA Ames Research Center with the prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The Principal Investigator for the mission was Dr. Alan Binder. 

The probe also carried a small amount of the remains of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker (April 28, 1928 – July 18, 1997), astronomer and co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, to the moon for a space burial.

January 11: William Tyler Olcott
The Astronomy Compendium: January 11

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10: Eugène Joseph Delporte

The Amor group of asteroids.

Eugène Joseph Delporte
January 10, 1872 – October 19, 1955

Eugène Joseph Delporte was a Belgian astronomer.

He discovered a total of sixty-six asteroids. Notable discoveries include 1221 Amor (which lent its name to the Amor asteroids) and the Apollo asteroid 2101 Adonis. He discovered or co-discovered some comets as well, including periodic comet 57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte.

He worked in the Observatoire Royal de Belgique (Belgian Royal Observatory), situated in the town of Uccle (after which the asteroid 1276 Ucclia is named).

In 1930 he fixed the modern boundaries between all of the constellations in the sky, along lines of right ascension and declination for the epoch B1875.0.

The Lunar crater Delporte is named in his honor.

January 10: Simon Marius
The Astronomy Compendium: January 10

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 8: Johannes Fabricius

Johannes Fabricius
January 8, 1587 – March 19, 1616

Johannes Fabricius, eldest son of David Fabricius (1564-1617), was a German astronomer and a discoverer of sunspots, independently of Galileo Galilei.

Johannes was born in Resterhafe (Friesland). 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). The pair soon invented 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 edge of the disk, steadily move to the western edge, disappear, then reappear at the east again after the passage of the same amount of time that it had taken for it to cross the disk in the first place.

Copies of a map he made of Frisia in 1589 are also still extant. He is also named in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon as someone who claimed to have seen lunar inhabitants through his telescope, though that particular fact is merely part of Verne's fiction.

The Lunar crater Fabricius is named after his father, David Fabricius.

January 8: Galileo Galilei
January 8: Stephen Hawking
The Astronomy Compendium: January 8

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7: Francesco Carlini

Carlini crater on the Moon

Francesco Carlini
January 7, 1783 – August 29, 1862

Francesco Carlini was an Italian astronomer.

Born in Milan, he became director of the observatory there in 1832. He published Nuove tavole de moti apparenti del sole in 1832. In 1810, he had already published Esposizione di un nuovo metodo di construire le taole astronomiche applicato alle tavole del sole. Together with Giovanni Antonio Amedeo Plana, he participated in a geodetic project in Austria and Italy. During this trip in 1821 he took pendulum measurements on top of Mount Cenis, Italy, from which he calculated one of the first estimates of the density and mass of the Earth.

The Lunar crater Carlini is named in his honor.

January 7: Jovian Moons
The Astronomy Compendium: January 7