On July 13, 1527, Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee was born. He is considered one of the most learned men of his age. Besides being an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, in his later years he immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology and Hermetic philosophy. One of his aims was attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation.
On July 11, 1382, significant philosopher of the later Middle Ages Nicole Oresme passed away. As for many historic people of the middle ages, his actual birthdate is unknown and can only be fixed to a period between 1325 and 1330. Nicole Oresme besides William of Ockham or Jean Buridan -- a French priest who sowed the seeds of the Copernican revolution in Europe -- is considered as one of the most influential thinkers of the 14th century and he wrote influential works on economics, mathematics, physics, astrology and astronomy, philosophy, and theology.
On June 26, 1730, French astronomer Charles Messier was born. He is best known for his publication of an astronomical catalogue consisting of 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.
On June 6, 1436, German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic bishop Johannes Müller aus Königsberg was born, better known under the Latinized version of his name as Regiomontanus. His diligent and accurate observations, measurements and recordings paved the way for modern astronomers such as Tycho Brahe and Nikolaus Copernicus.
On March 25, 1655, Saturn's largest moon Titan was discovered by astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens. Titan is considered as the most Earth-like moon discovered so far and the second largest in the solar system.
On February 17, 1600, Domonican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer Giordano Bruno was burned on the stake after the Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings.
On January 9, 1848, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, German-British astronomer and sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel, passed away at age 98. She is best know for the discovery of several comets, in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name.
On January 7, 1610, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei turned his new telescope to the nocturnal sky to watch the planet Jupiter and discovered the eponymous four moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganimede, and Callisto.
On January 4, 1643, Sir Isaac Newton, famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, was born. With his Principia he laid the foundation of modern classical mechanics.Besides he constructed the very first reflecting telescope and independent of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed differential and integral calculus.
On November 28, 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish discovered the first Pulsar, a fast rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation of a pulsar can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing toward the Earth, much the way a lighthouse can only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission.
On October 21, 2003, a photograph of the nocturnal sky was taken, where almost 2 years later, in January 2005, evidence was raised that there might be a 10th planet at the borders of our solar system: Eris, located in the Kuiper Belt and named after the Greek godess of discord.
On October 17, 1604, the famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler started his observations of the 1604 supernova, named after him as Kepler's Supernova or Kepler's Star. Special about this 'new' star was it being the very last observed supernova in our own galaxy, the milkyway.
On this day in 1994, the last parts of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the largest planet within our solar system, Jupiter. This was the first time, that an extraterrestrial collision of two objects could be directly observed.
394 years ago, famous astronomer Johannes Kepler discovered the 3rd and also last of his planetary laws, and concluded the general revolution of our celestial world that started with Nikolaus Kopernikus about 100 years earlier. And that made him rather popular as he still is today. Did you know that there is a Kepler crater on the Moon, a Kepler crater on Mars, a Kepler asteroid, a Kepler supernova, of course there has to be a space mission named after him, even an opera
200 years ago today, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was born. Also in Germany hardly anybody might know Galle today. Well, maybe except most astronomers, who will certainly know him, because he has discovered the planet Neptune. No, he didn't do it all by himself...
The last transit of Venus took place recently on 5 and 6 June 2012, and it was the last Venus transit of the 21st century. Venus transits are very rare events. The next one will be December 10–11, 2117. So it is much likely that this on was the very last Venus transit I had a chance to see in my lifetime.