Questions tagged [history]

Questions regarding the history of astronomy, including discoveries and scientists.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
0
votes
1answer
78 views

Since when do astronomers have the notion that space is void?

Since when do astronomers have conjectured that space is void, and not full of air like our immediate environment? Background for the question: I heard a conference about philosophy of science ...
7
votes
1answer
73 views

Mercury's spin-orbit resonance

When was it confirmed that Mercury has a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance and by whom (research group/radio observations...)? The first suggestion was made by Giuseppe Colombo in 1965. Its proximity to the ...
5
votes
1answer
63 views

Ptolemy’s understanding of the planet’s whereabouts

I imagine that Ptolemy’s epicycles were performed as real circles - around equants - in two dimensions, e.g that he was able not only to give the angles to planets and the Sun as seen from the Earth, ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

What happened to the 2017 proposal on redefining planethood? Is this information available?

In 2017, Alan Stern et al. submitted a geophysical planet definition to the IAU for review which states “A planet is a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Researching mechanics without “fixed stars”

In the history of humanity, easily observable extra-(Solar System) objects greatly helped understanding certain phenomena inside the Solar System. Importantly, the “precession of the equinox”, and ...
2
votes
2answers
94 views

Why do astrologers use the “wrong” sign?

I realize this may be the wrong site for this question... I apologize if you consider it inappropriate but hope this community knows the answer. We just experienced the spectacular conjunction of ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

When was it first determined that the Sun is a star?

Just looking at the sky, it is not at all obvious that the Sun is a star: stars are fixed on the celestial sphere, they are point-like and not very bright, whereas the sun is a big (compared to a star)...
2
votes
1answer
36 views

What other definitions for a planet were proposed?

This article from the IAU states The first draft proposal for the definition of a planet was debated vigorously by astronomers at the 2006 IAU General Assembly in Prague and a new version slowly took ...
2
votes
2answers
93 views

What was the definition of a planet before August 24, 2006?

In 2006, the IAU produced a definition of what it is to be a planet. This definition famously excludes Pluto, to the disarray of this small body's fans. Before this decision, what was the definition ...
0
votes
0answers
45 views

Angles in Ptolemaic Model

I am about to work with Ptolemy's Model for the motion of an upper Planet (Mars). I use a epicycle rolling on the deferent. As a first step, I am just interested in the shape of the trajectory, which ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

How were the distances to stars measure before parallax?

A comment under When was the distance to a star measured for the first time without using parallax? mentions that the distance to stars was measured before parallax was possible. How was this done?
1
vote
2answers
87 views

When was the distance to a star measured for the first time without using parallax?

This is somewhat of a follow-up to When was the parallax of a star first measured? Once the distance to the nearest stars was determined, it was possible to discover physical properties of stars (such ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

What comet's tail did Earth pass through before Halley's?

This answer to Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet? mentions Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet in 1910. It caused a bit of a panic due to claims that ...
2
votes
0answers
63 views

What were they expecting to see when Halley's comet appeared in 1910?

This answer to Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet? mentions Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet in 1910. It caused a bit of a panic due to claims that ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

Any record of the Earth passing through the tail (not trail) of a comet?

Discussion below the Space SE question How hard is it to fly through the tail of a comet? Has it been done? has led me to ask if there is any record of the Earth passing through the tail of a comet. ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

What exactly is a Hamiltonian telescope? Is this one?

This comment on the current answer to Why is this telescope so short? How hard is it to make such a fast primary? says In this forum topic Borisov appears to call it an f/1.5 Hamiltonian. Wikipedia'...
0
votes
2answers
127 views

Did the night sky ever change in recorded history?

I wonder whether there has ever been a major change of the firmament in recorded history, like changes in the positions of stars, changes in constellations, or stars disappearing after going supernova....
1
vote
2answers
65 views

Why does the Simbad page “A.A. Michelson's Jovian Galilean-satellite interferometer” show data for Betelgeuse?

When searching for things related to How did Michelson measure the diameters of jupiter's moons using optical interferometry? I came across the ui.adsabs.harvard.edu entry A. A. Michelson's Jovian ...
2
votes
0answers
37 views

How did Michelson measure the diameters of jupiter's moons using optical interferometry?

In Betelgeuse: How its Diameter was measured (Chant, C. A., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 15, p.133, Bibliographic Code: 1921JRASC..15..133C) the author says: The paper in ...
0
votes
1answer
83 views

When was the parallax of a star first measured?

Telescopes like Gaia measure the parallax of stars with a great precision. But for stars that are beyond 11 kpc, their parallax is still too small to be measured. With Earth-bound telescopes, only the ...
1
vote
2answers
62 views

Before the 1761 transit, what was our best estimate of the distance to the Sun?

In 1761, many expeditions were launched to determine the distance to the Sun using parallax during the transit of Venus. Prior to the 1761 transit, what was the best estimate for the Earth-Sun ...
2
votes
0answers
33 views

Records of Venus transits prior to 1761

Following the publication in 1716 of Edmond Halley's method to determine the solar parallax with the transit of Venus, many expeditions were launched to observe the 1761 transits. The following ...
0
votes
0answers
20 views

When was the variation of apparent diameter of the moon first measured?

The orbit of the Moon around the Earth isn't quite a circle. Since distance between the Earth and the Moon changes over time, the apparent diameter of the Moon also varies very slightly. With a ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

How was the mass of Venus determined?

The mass of Venus seems rather complicated to determine to me: Venus doesn't have any satellites, so you can't just apply Kepler's third law (like you would with Jupiter or Saturn for instance) to ...
5
votes
2answers
153 views

Mystery CCD camera

What I know: this is a Meade-brand CCD camera. I believe it to be relatively old (2004?). It does not have a model number, and the only pictures I can find on the internet call it a "USB PC-...
5
votes
1answer
444 views

Why were the Magellanic Clouds named that way?

From the Wikipedia article, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds were observed prior to Magellan's expedition, and the name only stuck long after Magellan's expedition (at first, they were called ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

When was the diameter of Titan first measured?

Titan is enshrouded in a thick opaque cloud of methane : with a telescope, you can't see the moon's surface. Because of this, from a distance, you can only see the diameter of the moon + its ...
0
votes
1answer
25 views

Who coined the phrase “martian dichotomy”?

This question is adjacent to this other one. The martian dichotomy refers to the fact that the northern and southern hemisphere are radically different on Mars, with different surface ages and ...
29
votes
2answers
7k views

How did Eratosthenes know that the sun is far away?

The famous measurements and calculations done by Eratosthenes around 300 BC are very widely known. He concluded correctly that the circumference of the Earth is about $252\,000$ times the length of an ...
1
vote
1answer
111 views

Why are Uranus' satellites named after characters in Shakespeare?

Oberon, Titania, Ophelia, Puck, Miranda... Uranus' satellites are named for characters in the works of Shakespeare and Pope. Yet the names of Jupiter and Saturn's moon come from the Roman and Greek ...
1
vote
0answers
9 views

How were “microshutters” or other multiplexed or multi-object techniques first used in Astronomical spectroscopy?

This answer to How will microshutter arrays be used in the James Webb and future space telescopes? explains how multiple objects can be selected so that the throughput of a spectrometer can be ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

When did scientists discover that the Sun has a life cycle and that it is going to die?

I have been researching the history of scientific studies about the the Sun. However I have been unable to find out much information about how the scientific consensus started forming around stars' ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

When was the martian dichotomy first observed?

The North and South hemispheres of Mars are very different one from another. They have different elevations, different crust thickness, different surface ages. This is known as the martian dichotomy. ...
2
votes
0answers
71 views

Discovery papers for Uranus and Neptune

I would like to have the discovery papers, notices or announcements done by Herschel with Uranus and Le Verrier with Neptune. I know that Herschel adressed the Royal Society and Le Verrier sent some ...
3
votes
1answer
200 views

Latitude and longitude of Eugene Shoemaker's final resting place?

Eugene Shoemaker was an esteemed and celebrated astronomer and planetary geologist. Is it possible to localize their final resting place with a latitude, longitude and feature name?
5
votes
0answers
135 views

Explanation of an imaginary transformation occurring in the determination of trigonometric series for the elliptical equation of the center

One of the oldest problems in astronomy, which dates back to to the time of Kepler, is the problem of development in infinite trigonometric series of the "equation of the center" - to ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

How much does the sky change in a few thousand years?

The "fixed stars" are not actually fixed, the earth's tilt changes over time etc., but all that happens slowly on human timescales. Imagine a Babylonian astronomer (or astrologist?) ...
3
votes
0answers
78 views

How to calculate the position of a meteor shower's radiant point based on its associated comet's orbit?

Below this answer to Why are Delta Aquariids “for the southern hemisphere” while the Perseids are “for the north”? I wrote the comment: +1 To make this complete, ...
22
votes
3answers
5k views

When was it worked out/discovered that our sun can't go supernova?

As the title says, when did we realise with reasonable confidence that our star is not going to be going out in a supernova blaze of glory? I ask because a while ago I read The Songs of Distant Earth ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

What were the nine planets in 1899?

I'm currently reading Planetary Geology, in which they state When Ceres [...] was discovered in 1899, it was considered as the lost tenth planet. Uranus and Neptune had been discovered, but Pluto ...
2
votes
1answer
76 views

In the 1950's how were radio-astrometric positions with portable dishes so precise they could be assigned to their dim optical counterparts (Quasars)?

In my question Why are quasars so far away that they couldn't be optically resolved in the 1950's? I included the following short paragraph, but then added strikethrough to the second sentence ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

How poor was our tally of objects that could produce potential extinction-level events back in 1998?

A negative comment below my SciFi SE question Why did the Armageddon (1998) plot require a “rogue comet that jarred loose a Texas-sized asteroid”? says: I don't understand the question. They needed ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

First Confirmed Visual Observation of Gravitational Lensing

Is it possible to identify the first direct observation of the gravitational lensing? What object was lensed, and where did the energy detected fall on the electromagnetic spectrum?
2
votes
0answers
75 views

Why was the diaeresis removed from Pasiphae?

The Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature notes that the spelling of Jupiter's moon Pasiphae was changed from Pasiphaë in July 2009, i.e. they removed the diaeresis. I've been unable to track down the ...
1
vote
0answers
42 views

When and why was zero right ascension defined to be at the vernal equinox?

When (and why) was zero right ascension defined to be at the vernal equinox? Who established or defined this standard?
49
votes
4answers
14k views

How did Astronomers deduce that the Sun was not a ball of fire?

Its common knowledge that people used to think that the sun is a ball of fire or molten metal, but when did science start to prove otherwise?
2
votes
1answer
65 views

Where do the symbols $\lambda$ and $\beta$ come from for celestial latitude and longitude?

I'm reading Episodes From the Early History of Astronomy, and the author mentions the system of celestial coordinates based on the ecliptic. In this system, the two coordinates are latitude and ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

When was the atmosphere of Venus first observed?

Nowadays, atmospheres of transiting exoplanets are being characterized. We can measure the absorption of the star's light through the exosphere of exoplanets. The same can be done closer to Earth, ...
2
votes
0answers
53 views

Longest time after an image was taken when a new solar system body was discovered from it?

This answer to If there's nothing special about Pluto, why was it discovered so early? says: In fact, often objects are discovered to be in pictures from long ago, such as Orcus, discovered in 2004,...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

When did people first measure that the Earth was closest to the Sun during January?

When we talk about the reason for the seasons, we usually have to dispel the misconception that seasons are caused by being close and far away in the Earth's elliptical orbit. And usually, we ...