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Humans have gazed at the night sky for thousands of years, and found it pretty interesting. They learned that you could navigate using the celestial map and, over time, also learned that certain events could be predicted. These learned people were quite prized by their brethren, and their endeavors helped advance our understanding of the world.
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Cross-listed in ExplorersMilitaryScientists

Sir Edward Sabine

bornactivedied
1788, Oct 141818-18711883, Jun 26
an Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society. Two branches of Sabine's work are notable: Determination of the length of the seconds pendulum, a simple pendulum whose time period on the surface of the Earth is two seconds, that is, one second in each direction; and his research on the Earth's ...
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Johann Hieronymus Schroter

aka: Schröter
borndied
1745, Aug 301816, Aug 29
a German astronomer. Schröter made extensive drawings of the features of Mars, yet curiously he was always erroneously convinced that what he was seeing was mere cloud formations rather than geographical features. In 1791 he published an important early study on the topography of the Moon entitled Selenotopographische Fragmente zur genauern Kenntniss der Mo...
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Heinrich Christian Schumacher

borndied
1780, Sep 31850, Dec 28
a German-Danish astronomer. He was chiefly occupied with the publication of Ephemerides (11 parts, 1822–1832) and of the journal Astronomische Nachrichten (founded by himself in 1821 and still being published), of which he edited thirty-one volumes. In 1827 he was elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1829 he won the Gold Medal of...
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Samuel Heinrich Schwabe

borndied
1789, Oct 251875, Apr 11
a German astronomer remembered for his work on sunspots. Schwabe was trying to discover a new planet inside the orbit of Mercury which was tentatively called Vulcan. Because of the proximity to the Sun, it would have been very difficult to observe Vulcan, and Schwabe believed one possibility to detect the planet might be to see it as a dark spot when passing...
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Cross-listed in ClergyScientistsEducators

Angelo Secchi

aka: Pietro Angelo
borndied
1818, Jun 291878, Feb 26
an Italian astronomer. He was Director of the Observatory at the Pontifical Gregorian University (then called the Roman College) for 28 years. He was a pioneer in astronomical spectroscopy, and was one of the first scientists to state authoritatively that the Sun is a star.
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Richard Sheepshanks

borndied
1794, Jul 301855, Aug 4
an English astronomer. He served as editor of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and greatly improved their content. In 1830 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
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Shibukawa Shunkai

borndied
1639, Dec 271715, Nov 1
a Japanese scholar, go player and the first official astronomer appointed of the Edo period. He revised the Chinese lunisolar calendar at the shogunate request, drawing up the J?ky? calendar which was issued in 1684 during the Jokyo era. In 1702, he changed his name to Shibukawa Sukezaemon Shunkai and retired by 1711.
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Cross-listed in WritersInventorsScientists

Hamilton Lanphere Smith

borndied
1819, Nov 51903
an American scientist, photographer, and astronomer. He was born in New London, Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1839, where he constructed the largest telescope in the country at the time in 1838. In 1848 Smith wrote "The World", one of the first science textbooks written in America. Smith is best known for patenting the tintype photographic process, ...
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Cross-listed in NavalWriters

William Henry Smyth

borndied
1788, Jan 211865, Sep 8
an English naval officer, hydrographer, astronomer and numismatist. He is noted for his involvement in the early history of a number of learned societies, for his hydrographic charts, for his astronomical work, and for a wide range of publications and translations.
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Willebrord Snellius

aka: Snel van Royen, Snell
borndied
1580, Jun 131626, Oct 30
a Dutch astronomer and mathematician, known in the English-speaking world as Snell. In the west, especially the English speaking countries, his name has been attached to the law of refraction of light for several centuries, but it is now known that this law was first discovered by Ibn Sahl in 984. The same law was also investigated by Ptolemy and in the Midd...
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Nilakantha Somayaji

aka: Kelallur Comatiri
borndied
1444, Jun 141544
a major mathematician and astronomer of the Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics. One of his most influential works was the comprehensive astronomical treatise Tantrasamgraha completed in 1501. He had also composed an elaborate commentary on Aryabhatiya called the Aryabhatiya Bhasya. In this Bhasya, Nilakantha had discussed infinite series expansions o...
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Cross-listed in Writers

Mary Fairfax Somerville

borndied
1780, Dec 261872, Nov 29
a Scottish science writer and polymath, at a time when women's participation in science was discouraged. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline...
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Sir James South

borndied
1785, Oct1867, Oct 19
a British astronomer. He helped found the Astronomical Society of London, and it was under his name as president of the society from 1831 to 1832 that a petition was successfully submitted to obtain a royal charter in 1831, whereupon it became the Royal Astronomical Society. South and more
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Friederich Wilhelm Gustav Sporer

aka: Spörer
borndied
1822, Oct 231895, Jul 7
a German astronomer. He is noted for his studies of sunspots and sunspot cycles. In this regard he is often mentioned together with Edward Maunder. Spörer was the first to note a prolonged period of low sunspot activity from 1645 to 1715. This period is known as the Maunder Minimum. From 1844 he worked at the New Berlin Observatory.
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Cross-listed in WritersPhysicians

Samuel Stearns

borndied
1741, Jul 131810, Aug 8
an American astronomer, doctor, author and publisher. His trade was medicine but he also studied herbalism and astronomy. The book Annals of Brattleboro, 1681-1895 states of him that: "His fame as an astronomer led many of the inhabitants to consult him on the turn of future events." Stearns was a British Loyalist during and after the American Revolutionary ...
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Carl August von Steinheil

aka: Karl
borndied
1801, Oct 121870, Sep 14
a German physicist, inventor, engineer and astronomer. In 1839, Steinheil used silver chloride and a cardboard camera to make pictures in negative from the Museum of Art and the Munich Frauenkirche, then taking another picture of the negative to get a positive, the actual black and white reproduction of a view on the object. The method was later named the ...
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Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve

borndied
1793, Apr 151864, Nov 23
a German astronomer from a famous dynasty. In 1808 he entered the Imperial University of Dorpat, where he first studied philology, but soon turned his attention to astronomy. From 1813 to 1820, he taught at the university and collected data at the Dorpat Observatory, and in 1820 became a full professor and director of the observatory. Struve was occupied wit...
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Otto Wilhelm von Struve

borndied
1819, May 71905, Apr 14
a Russian astronomer.Together with his father, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, Otto Wilhelm is considered a prominent 19th century astronomer who headed the Pulkovo Observatory between 1862 and 1889 and was a leading member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. During 1843 and 1844, Struve participated in longitude measurements between Altona, Greenwich an...
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Lewis A. Swift

borndied
1820, Feb 291913, Jan 5
an American astronomer. He discovered or co-discovered a number of comets. In 1878 he believed he had observed two Vulcan-type planets (planets within the orbit of Mercury), but he was mistaken. Apart from comets, he also discovered hundreds of nebulae.
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Cross-listed in ExplorersClergy

Ignacije Szentmartony

bornactivedied
1718, Oct 281753-17561793, Apr 15
a Croatian Jesuit priest, missionary, mathematician, astronomer and explorer. After graduating from secondary school he entered the order of Jesuits in Vienna in 1735. By the year 1751, he was in Lisbon, Portugal where he obtained the title of royal mathematician and astronomer. With those credentials, he became a member of an expedition that worked on the r...
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