Saturday 19 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Skylab and that Solar Prominence Picture


Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA and was the United States' first space station. Skylab orbited Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket. Three manned missions to the station, conducted between 1973 and 1974 using the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) atop the smaller Saturn IB, each delivered a three-astronaut crew.

On December 19th 1973 the now famous picture of a giant solar prominence loop on the Sun was taken.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Duncan Liddel

Duncan Liddel 1561-1613

Duncan Liddel was born in Aberdeen in 1561 and died there on 17 December 1613. He lectured on Ptolemaic, Copernican and Tychonic cosmological systems. After receiving his early education in Aberdeen, Liddel departed for the Continent in 1579, where at the University of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder he studied mathematics, philosophy and medicine. When an epidemic struck Frankfurt in 1585, Liddel moved on to the University of Rostock.

In Rostock he was befriended by several eminent men including the astronomer and professor of medicine Henrich Brucaeus, It was probably due to Brucaeus that Liddel met the great astronomer Tycho Brahe, whom he visited at least twice at his observatory in Denmark in June 1587 and June 1588. 

Saturday 12 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Henrietta Leavitt

Henrietta Swan Leavitt 1868-1921

Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born on July 4th, 1868 in Lancaster, Massachusetts. As a young child, her family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Leavitt attended Oberlin College and in 1892 graduated from the Society for the Collegiate Instruction for Women, now known as Radcliffe College. She then traveled in America and in Europe during which time she lost her hearing. Three years after graduation, she became a volunteer research assistant at Harvard College Observatory. Seven years later, in 1902, Pickering hired her on the permanent staff.

Leavitt’s interest in astronomy began during her senior year in college when she took an astronomy class. She furthered her studies in astronomy with graduate work. As an assistant at Harvard College Observatory, though she had the ability, she was given little theoretical work. Pickering did not like his female staff to pursue such endeavors. Instead, she was given the position of chief of the photographic photometry department and was responsible for the care of telescopes.

Leavitt also was required to perform research from the observatory’s photographic plates collection. Using the plates, she was to determine a star’s magnitude. There was no standard for ascertaining magnitudes at the time. Leavitt devised a system, using “the north polar sequence” as a gage of brightness for stars during her investigations. This was quickly recognized by the scientific community as an important standard and in 1913, was adopted by the International Committee on Photographic Magnitudes.

Another area of research that Leavitt pursued was on variable stars and in 1908 she made her most important discovery. By studying Cepheid variables in the Small Magellanic Cloud, which are all about the same distance from Earth, Leavitt determined the absolute magnitudes of stars. Her study led to the period-luminosity relationship of these variables, which in turn led to the ability to determine distances of stars from a mere one hundred light years to ten million light years. Ejnar Hertzsprung used her discovery to plot the distance of stars; Harlow Shapley used it to measure the size of the Milky Way; and Edwin Hubble used her work to ascertain the age of the Universe.

Interestingly Delta Cephei the prototype Cepheid variable star was discovered by John Goodricke in York in 1784. He was also deaf!

Leavitt died on December 12th, 1921 from cancer. During her lifetime, she discovered over 1,200 variable stars, half the number of all such objects known at the time of her death. She was also a member of many organizations and a proponent for women in astronomy. She made monumental contributions to the advancement of astronomy and our understanding of our place in the Universe. There is no way of knowing what other contributions she would have made had she not died so young.

The asteroid 5383 Leavitt and the lunar crater Leavitt are named in her honour.

Friday 11 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon, born December 11, 1863, Dover, Delaware, U.S.—died April 13, 1941, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cannon was the eldest daughter of Wilson Cannon, a Delaware state senator, and Mary Jump. She studied physics and astronomy at Wellesley College, graduating in 1884. In 1894 she returned to Wellesley for a year of advanced study in astronomy, and in 1895 she enrolled at Radcliffe in order to continue her studies under Edward C. Pickering, who was director of the Harvard College Observatory.

Aniie Jump Canon in Peru

In 1896 Cannon was named an assistant at the Harvard Observatory, becoming one of a group known as “Pickering’s Women.” There, joining Williamina P.S. Fleming and Antonia Maury, she devoted her energies to Pickering’s ambitious project, begun in 1885, of recording, classifying, and cataloging the spectra of all stars down to those of the ninth magnitude. Fleming had initially classified stellar spectra by letter in alphabetic sequence from A to Q, mainly according to the strength of their hydrogen spectral lines. Maury created a new scheme with 22 groups from I to XXII and further added three subdivisions based on the sharpness of the spectral lines. She also placed Fleming’s B stars before the A stars.

In a catalog of 1,122 stars published in 1901, Cannon drastically simplified Fleming’s scheme to the classes O, B, A, F, G, K, and M, and she retained P for planetary nebula and Q for unusual stars. She also added numerical divisions, further dividing each class into 10 steps from 0 to 9. It was soon realized that Cannon’s scheme actually was classifying stars according to their temperature, and her spectral classifications were universally adopted. She eventually obtained and classified spectra for more than 225,000 stars. Her work was published in nine volumes as the Henry Draper Catalogue (1918–24).

In 1911 Cannon succeeded Fleming as curator of astronomical photographs at the observatory. After 1924 she extended her work, cataloging tens of thousands of additional stars down to the 11th magnitude for the two-volume Henry Draper Extension (1925, 1949). In the course of her work, Cannon also discovered some 300 variable stars and 5 novae.

Among the numerous honours and awards accorded her were the first honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford to be awarded to a woman (1925) and the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1931. She was also the first woman to become an officer in the American Astronomical Society. In 1933 she established that organization’s Annie Jump Cannon Award, which is given to a North American female astronomer (within five years of receiving a doctorate) for her distinguished contribution to astronomy. It was only in 1938 that she was appointed to the Harvard faculty, when she was named William Cranch Bond Professor of Astronomy. Cannon officially retired from the observatory in 1940 but carried on research until her death the next year.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Helios 1

Helios 1

On December 10th 1974 Helios 1 a joint West German NASA project was launched.The mission returned useful data about the Sun’s magnetic field, the solar wind, and the relative strength of cosmic rays. The mission continued to send data until 1985.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Adrian Metuis

Adrian Metius 9th Dec 1571-26th Sept 1635

Adrian Metius was born at Alkmaar in Holland; he was a pupil of Tycho Brahe, he later became an astronomer, mathematician and military engineer. He made considerable improvements to the astronomical instruments of his time. 

In 1624 he wrote ‘De usu Globi Coelestis’ containing a description of a 7 feet iron radius mounted on a universal bearingwith sights at both ends. He died at Frankfurt in 1635.  

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Astrognome Scrapbook Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc

Nicholas–Claude Fabri de Peiresc  December 1st 1580 – June 24th 1637

He was born in Provence, France in November 1610 he obtained a telescope from his brother in Paris and observed the moons of Jupiter from 25th November – 15th May 1612. He observed sunspots and on November 26th 1610 observed M42 the Orion Nebula. On 1ST March 1611 he discovered the visibility of stars in broad daylight when he saw the planet Mercury after sunrise. On 12th September 1611 he made a daylight observation of the planet Venus.

During 1633-34 he built an observatory on the top of his house in Aix, France, he obtained a telescope from Galileo in 1635. He also observed from Cairo, Aleppo and elsewhere in Europe. He showed that the Mediterranean Sea was 600 miles shorter than was accepted.