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History of Astronomy

Featured Images

Lynx in the west, late May

Faint Cat May 25, 2017

Composite image of Supernova 1987A

Brilliant Dead Star February 22, 2017

Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Off to War December 7, 2016

Galileo view of the asteroid Gaspra

First Look July 30, 2016

Surveying the Moon June 2, 2016

Luna 9, February 1966

First Landing February 3, 2016

Telescopes in the cargo bay of space shuttle Columbia, December 1995

Space (Shuttle) Telescope December 8, 2015

Artist's concept of the star system 51 Pegasi, featuring a giant planet

The First October 12, 2015

First Eyes on Mars July 13, 2015

Artist's concept of Solar Max in orbit

Sun Watcher February 14, 2015

Double Dribble November 20, 2014

Postcard of the historic Elgin Watch Company Observatory in Illinois

Star Time October 25, 2014

Otto Struve, first director of McDonald Observatory

First Director May 8, 2014

Autographs from the dedication of McDonald Observatory

Who's Who May 7, 2014

Construction of McDonald Observatory's 82-inch telescope, ca. 1934

Celebrating May 6, 2014

Participants in the McDonald Observatory dedication, May 5, 1939

Getting Started May 5, 2014

An early view of the primary mirror of McDonald Observatory's first telescope

Seeing the Light December 31, 2013

Annie Jump Cannon

Astronomical Pioneer December 10, 2013

Female "computers" at Harvard College Observatory

Data Processing Center December 9, 2013

The life and times of William Herschel

Stellar Musician November 14, 2013

Artist's concept of Mariner 2 flying past Venus, December 14, 1962

First Encounter December 13, 2012

Solar eclipse of August 19, 1887, from near Berlin

Fire in the Sky August 18, 2012

False-color view of Comet Swift-Tuttle, 1992

Swift Comet July 16, 2012

H-R Diagram

Stellar Plot July 7, 2012

Victor Hess prepares to ascend in a balloon to study cosmic rays, 1912

Radiation Hunter April 7, 2012

Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin is home to the world's largest refractor

Still Going August 18, 2011

Illustration showing the Great Comet of 1861

Great Comet June 30, 2011

Venus's path across the Sun during the transit of 1761

Bright Passage June 6, 2011

Martian 'Canali' March 14, 2010

Radio Programs

Lynx Looking for a faint cat May 25, 2017

Matter vs. Antimatter The matter of antimatter May 16, 2017

Moon and Venus Looking for a neighboring moon April 22, 2017

Loud Sun Listening in on the Sun February 27, 2017

Supernova 1987A III Keeping an eye on a dead star February 24, 2017

Supernova 1987A II Catching “ghosts” from an exploding star February 23, 2017

Supernova 1987A Looking for a hidden star February 22, 2017

February The oddest month of the year February 1, 2017

Fornax Firing up a celestial furnace January 19, 2017

War Surplus Reflections on war-time astronomy December 9, 2016

War Work Soldiering through a war December 8, 2016

Off to War Astronomers head to war December 7, 2016

Guiding Lights II Computing the positions of the stars December 6, 2016

Guiding Lights Guiding ships by the stars December 5, 2016

Lewis Rutherfurd New ways to see the stars November 25, 2016

Cepheus Recording ancient constellations October 25, 2016

Financing a Career A successful career from a global panic October 10, 2016

Moon and Aldebaran Moving toward a moving target August 24, 2016

Milton Humason An unusual path to astronomy August 19, 2016

Lunar Orbiter 1 Mapping the surface of the Moon August 18, 2016

Perseid Meteors Finding the cause of meteor showers August 10, 2016

Moon and Spica Shifting the starry background August 7, 2016

Gaspra A breakup creates a big family July 30, 2016

Rudolf Wolf A cycle of storms on the Sun July 7, 2016

Herbert Friedman Watching the Sun with a “rockoon” June 21, 2016

Moon and Saturn A vigorous debate about Selenites June 18, 2016

Van Vleck Observatory Re-dedicating a century-old observatory June 15, 2016

Barnard’s Star Discovering a close but faint neighbor June 6, 2016

Eltanin “Shifty” drops of starlight June 4, 2016

Hydrogen Discovering 'inflammable air'... May 28, 2016

Mars Opposition V Seeing things on the Red Planet — after this. May 22, 2016

The Great War, V American astronomers in World War I May 13, 2016

The Great War, IV War changes an astronomer’s destiny May 12, 2016

The Great War, III The man who solved Einstein’s equations May 11, 2016

The Great War, II Science in the battlefields of Europe May 10, 2016

The Great War Bad timing for eclipse watchers May 9, 2016

Pyxis and Antlia Going high-tech in the night sky — after this. April 13, 2016

Coma Cluster A bright but dark galaxy cluster March 30, 2016

Assault on a Comet A fleet takes aim at a comet March 5, 2016

Interferometry Taking the measure of a giant February 8, 2016

Moon and Companions Two planets without moons February 5, 2016

Luna 9 The first soft landing on the Moon February 3, 2016

Caroline’s Cluster A surprising star cluster January 14, 2016

Sculptor Looking into a galactic well December 10, 2015

Morning Trio The first look at a hidden landscape October 21, 2015

51 Pegasi A puffy planet gets some attention October 11, 2015

Uranus at Opposition A good showing for “George’s Star” October 10, 2015

Cosmic Background The crackle of the Big Bang September 30, 2015

Proxima Centauri Discovering our closest neighbor September 9, 2015

First Professor Ready for the first day of class September 1, 2015

Messier 22 “Discovering” an ancient star cluster August 23, 2015

Stellar Tourism Visiting an observatory by stagecoach August 15, 2015

Mariner 4 Getting the first good look at Mars July 12, 2015

Fred Hoyle Unlocking the secrets of the stars June 23, 2015

False Alarm A hint of an interstellar radio station May 26, 2015

Hercules Handing down pictures of the stars May 10, 2015

Evening Mercury Measuring a planetary day April 25, 2015

Hubble at 25 II The “blunder of the century” April 22, 2015

Hubble at 25 Hubble Space Telescope takes flight April 21, 2015

African Astronomy Changing views of southern skies March 24, 2015

Spring Storm Making a mess of Easter Sunday March 23, 2015

Moon and Regulus A royal heart for a royal beast March 2, 2015

Solar Max Taking a look at the busy Sun February 13, 2015

Johannes Hartmann Filling the space between the stars January 10, 2015

Dwarf Planets A new name for leftover building blocks January 4, 2015

Quadrantid Meteors The changing landscape of the sky January 1, 2015

Robert Aitken An astronomer who saw double December 30, 2014

Moon and Spica Eyeballing some changes in the sky December 15, 2014

Moon and Uranus The Moon takes aim at a faint giant November 30, 2014

More Edwin Hubble Discovering the expanding universe November 20, 2014

Edwin Hubble A memento of a college basketball star November 19, 2014

Great Wall A wall of galaxies across the universe November 16, 2014

Star Time Setting your watch by the stars October 20, 2014

Orionid Meteors Discovering a meteor shower October 18, 2014

Daniel Kirkwood Explaining bands of nothing September 25, 2014

John Goodricke Solving the mystery of a demon star September 16, 2014

World War II, Part III Science and service in World War II September 3, 2014

World War II, Part II European astronomy during the war September 2, 2014

World War II Heading toward World War II September 1, 2014

Paper Black Holes Laying the groundwork for black holes August 31, 2014

Cat’s Eye Nebula The true nature of a glowing cat’s eye August 28, 2014

Great Red Spot Staring into the eye of Jupiter August 17, 2014

Anders Angstrom Scanning the “barcode” of the Sun August 12, 2014

Ranger 7 A successful crash in the Moon Race July 30, 2014

Messier Clusters Logging star clusters in Sagittarius July 24, 2014

‘New’ Stars Keeping an eye on bright “new” stars July 17, 2014

Impact! Cosmic missiles slam into Jupiter July 15, 2014

Vega A glittering test subject in the summer sky July 8, 2014

Moon and Saturn Names for all the solar system July 6, 2014

Lyman Spitzer II A bold idea for exploring the universe June 25, 2014

Lyman Spitzer Probing matter between the stars June 24, 2014

Clark Telescopes Celebrating some astronomical masterpieces June 3, 2014

Messier 3 Tracking down false comets May 27, 2014

McDonald at 75, V Studying the mysteries of the universe May 8, 2014

McDonald at 75, IV Probing the mysteries of the stars May 7, 2014

McDonald at 75, III Collaboration in the name of science May 6, 2014

McDonald at 75, II Lawsuits, recruitment, and stars May 5, 2014

McDonald at 75 The start of a scientific adventure May 4, 2014

Mariner 10 at Mercury A first look at a little planet March 28, 2014

Yakov Zel’dovich From exploding bombs to exploding stars March 7, 2014

Moon and Venus Love and beauty in the dawn sky February 23, 2014

Southern Slivers Slivers of stars in the southern sky February 1, 2014

Getting Started Cooking up a piece of glass December 30, 2013

Annie Jump Cannon II Classifying the stars December 10, 2013

Annie Jump Cannon A rare astronomical opportunity December 9, 2013

Pickering’s Harem Pioneering at 25 cents an hour December 8, 2013

Pioneer 10 at Jupiter Going eye-to-eye with a giant December 2, 2013

William Herschel III Dangerous nights at the telescope November 15, 2013

William Herschel II Making up for lost time November 14, 2013

William Herschel A musical intro for a noted astronomer November 13, 2013

A New Start An observatory gets a new start September 2, 2013

Changing Directions A change of direction for McDonald Observatory September 1, 2013

Bernard Lovell Pioneering a new way to see the universe August 28, 2013

Spitzer Space Telescope Taking a good look at an exoplanet August 22, 2013

Delphinus Sneaking into astronomical history July 7, 2013

Maximilian Wolf Snapping pictures of the night sky June 21, 2013

Nicolas Louis de Lacaille Mapping southern skies May 14, 2013

Moon and Regulus A special day for astronomy April 19, 2013

Argo Navis Sailing across the southern sky March 31, 2013

Moon and Jupiter A large, close-knit planetary family February 16, 2013

Quasars II Lighting up a distant galaxy February 5, 2013

Quasars The long-range secret of odd “stars” February 4, 2013

Missed Opportunity Missing a “stellar” opportunity January 27, 2013

More Mariner 2 Destroying a “second Earth” December 13, 2012

Mariner 2 Pioneering a path to another world December 12, 2012

‘Titanic’ Discoveries A big moon keeps its secrets November 18, 2012

Uranus at Opposition Overlooking a giant planet September 27, 2012

Moon and Antares Flirting with the stars September 19, 2012

BL Lacertae A star that’s more than a star September 13, 2012

Eclipse Watcher Risking life and limb for a solar eclipse August 18, 2012

Cloudy Skies A cruel twist of nature August 17, 2012

Tuttle Comets War, embezzlement, and comets July 16, 2012

Swift Comets From hardware-store owner to cosmic celebrity July 15, 2012

H-R Diagram Drawing the lives of the stars July 6, 2012

The Sombrero Looking beneath the brim of a galaxy July 1, 2012

Leo Minor Stars without much flash June 22, 2012

Johann Galle Taking note of a new planet June 8, 2012

EUVE Opening a new “window” on the universe June 6, 2012

Venus Transit Measuring out a solar-system ruler June 3, 2012

Clockwork Eclipses Ticking off the hours until a solar eclipse May 16, 2012

Luna See Firing a laser at the Moon May 8, 2012

General Relativity Albert Einstein “warps” the universe May 6, 2012

Moon, Mars, and Regulus Uncovering the secrets of a star April 29, 2012

Centaurus A A galaxy with a loud voice April 28, 2012

Ranger 4 Slamming into the far side of the Moon April 25, 2012

Balloon Ride Taking a balloon ride for science April 6, 2012

Rings of Uranus A dark discovery for a giant planet March 7, 2012

White Dwarfs Squeezing the heart of a dead star January 31, 2012

Sirius B A close companion for a bright star January 30, 2012

Harvey Nininger II Buying space rocks for a dollar a pound January 16, 2012

Harvey Nininger A burning passion for space rocks January 15, 2012

Pulsar Planets Planets around a dead star January 7, 2012

The New Year Bringing the calendar to heel December 31, 2011