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13.1Bil BC
In 2012 astronomers reported a protocluster of galaxies viewed through the Hubble Space Telescope that dated to about this time.
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11.2Bil BC
The star Kepler-444 formed about this time and in 2015 astronomers announced that it was orbited by five rocky planets.
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3.9Bil BC
Astronomers in 2008 reported that a giant meteorite crashed into Mars about this time and created a huge elliptical scar in the northern lowlands.
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2Bil BC
Astronomers in 2010 noticed that a galaxy quickly increased in brightness by a factor of hundreds. Over the next year a star was ripped apart and devoured by a black hole. Light from this event had taken about 2 billion years to reach Earth.
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1.3Bil BC
Two black holes collided about this time to form a single black hole and in the process sent out gravitational waves (GW150914) that were detected by the LIGO project on Sep 14, 2015.
Links: Astronomy, Black Hole, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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400Mil BC
Astronomers in 2002 identified a binary black hole from this time that resulted from the collision of 2 galaxies and blended to form NGC6240.
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135Mil BC
In 2002 US Astronomers reported sighting a supernova dubbed SN2002bj, reported to be 135 million light years away and unique in that it died away in days rather than months.
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100Mil BC
In 2008 astronomers witnessed the start of an explosion of a star, about the same size in diameter as the sun, that was only about 10 million years old. The supernova in galaxy NGC2770 was about 100 million lights years distant. The observation was made while observing another star well into its death throes.
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200 BC
About this time Eratosthenes (c276-c194), a Greek mathematician, ascribed the difference between the positions of the noon sun at Alexandria and at Styrene at the summer solstice as due to the curvature of the Earth. He thereby calculated the radius of the Earth to be about 4,000 miles. The modern value is 3963 miles.
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135
Chinese astronomers recorded what later became known as a supernova.
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150
Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman citizen of Egypt, authored his “Almagest” about this time. It was a mathematical and astronomical treatise, written in Greek, on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Ptolemy of Alexandria published his theory of epicycles, the idea that the moon, the sun and the planets moved in circles around the Earth.
Links: Egypt, Astronomy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
550
Aryabhata (b.476), Indian astronomer and mathematician, died. The Aryabhatiya, an astronomical treatise, is the magnum opus and only extant work of Aryabhata.
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1000
In Brazil megaliths were arranged into an astronomical observatory in the Rego Grande area of the Amazon. The stones were uncovered in the 1990s during deforesting operations in the area. In 2016 scholars in the field of archaeoastronomy determined that an indigenous culture had arranged the megaliths about this time.
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1231
Guo Shoujing (d.1314), Chinese astronomer, was born. He developed water clocks with temperature compensation and escapements to provide high resolution time accuracy for astronomical observations, a “pinhole camera” to sharpen shadows cast by the sun and moon, mathematical tools for polynomial generation and interpolation, and other inventions for measurements.
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1506
Copernicus (1473-1543), Polish-born astronomer, was appointed canon of church properties in the Prussian diocese of Ermland.
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1512
Copernicus, Polish-born astronomer, wrote his manuscript “The Little Commentary,” in which he suggested that the earth’s apparent immobility was due to a “false appearance” and a sun-centered cosmos would resolve many astronomical inconsistencies.
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1539
German scholar George Joachim Rheticus received permission to write a condensed version of the ideas of astronomer Nicholas Copernicus. The short book was titled “First Account.”
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1543 May 24
Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer, died in Poland. His book, "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs," (De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium), proof of a sun-centered universe, was printed just before he died. Although he did say that the earth rotated once a day and did revolve around the sun once a year, he kept 2 features of the old Aristotelian system: one involved uniform circular motion, and the other was quintessential matter, for which such motion was said to be natural. In 1916 the Catholic clergy placed the book on its “Index of Prohibited Books.” In 2004 Owen Gingerich authored "The Book Nobody Read," an examination of how the ideas of Copernicus spread. In 2006 William T. Vollmann authored “Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” In 2008 his remains, buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, were positively identified using DNA evidence. In 2011 Dava Sobel authored ”A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the cosmos.”
Links: Poland, DNA, Astronomy, Sun, Biography     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1572 Nov 11
A supernova was observed in constellation known as Cassiopeia. Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer, discovered a nova in the constellation of Cassiopeia. It is described in detail in his book "De Nova Stella" (1573). The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.
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1579
In Istanbul the astronomical observatory of Takiyuddin Efendi, constructed from 1575-1577, was deemed blasphemous and ordered destroyed by the Sultan. Takiyuddin Rasid (d. 1585), mathematician, physicist and mechanical scientist had united the schools of Maragha, Samarkand and Cairo-Damascus in himself and established the Istanbul Observatory.
Links: Turkey, Math, Astronomy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1596
German astronomer Johannes Kepler authored his “Mysterium Cosmographicum,” an attempt to reveal the structure of the cosmos.
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1608 Sep 25
Hans Lipperhey applied to the government of Zeeland for a patent for the telescope. In 2005 Fred Watson authored “Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope.”
Links: Technology, Astronomy, Patent     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1609 Mar
John Dee (b.1527), English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, died about this time. Dec 1608 is also given as his time of death.
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1609 Aug 25
Galileo demonstrated his 1st telescope to Venetian lawmakers. Galileo Galilei had improved the newly invented telescope and pointed it at the moon.
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1609
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), German astronomer and mathematician, authored “Astronomia Nova.” Written in 1605, but not published until 1609, it discussed how Mars moves in an elliptical orbit.
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1616 Mar 5
The Catholic Church’s Congregation of the Index banned Catholics from reading “On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres” (1543) by Nicholas Copernicus. “De Revolutionibus” was not formally banned but merely withdrawn from circulation, pending "corrections." The prohibition was officially lifted in 1835.
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1629 Apr 14
Christian Huygens (d.1695), Dutch astronomer, discoverer of Saturn's rings, was born. He invented the pendulum and along with Newton showed that any body revolving around a center is actually accelerating constantly toward that center, even though the rate of rotation remains constant.
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1655 Mar 25
Christiaan Huygens, Dutch inventor and astronomer, discovered Titan, Saturn's largest satellite.
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1656 Oct 29
Edmund Halley (d.1742), astronomer, was born about this time in Hagerston, Middlesex, England. The birth date is somewhat uncertain because it is not known if at that time in his village the Gregorian or the Julian calendar was in use. There's also some dispute over the year. [see Nov 8]
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1656 Nov 8
Edmond Halley, mathematician and astronomer who predicted the return of the comet which is named for him, was born. [see Oct 29]
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1656
Christiaan Huygens interpreted Saturn’s “ears” as a simple flat ring.
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1656
Christian Huygens invented the first pendulum clock, as described in his 1658 article "Horologium". It was built by Solomon Coster and was later put on exhibit at the Time Museum in Rockford, Ill. The time-pieces previously in use had been balance-clocks, Chris Huygens' pendulum clock was regulated by a mechanism with a "natural" period of oscillation and had an error of less than 1 minute a day.
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1659 Oct
Christian Huygens of Holland made the first sketch of Mars and calculated the rotational period of Mars to be 24 hours. He used a 2-inch telescope lens and discovered that the Martian day is nearly the same as an Earth day.
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1660 Nov 28
The London Royal Society formed. Founding members included astronomer Christopher Wren, William Petty, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins and Lawrence Rooke.
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1666
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625-1712), Italian-born French astronomer, discovered one of the polar ice caps of Mars.
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1672
Christian Huygens of Holland discovered the southern polar caps on Mars.
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1673
The most important of Christian Huygens' written works, the "Horologium Oscillatorium," was published in Paris. It discussed the mathematics surrounding pendulum motion and the law of centrifugal force for uniform circular motion.
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1675 Jan 20
Christian Huygens, Dutch scientist, transformed a theoretical insight on springs into a practical mechanism with the 1st sketch of a watch balance regulated by a coiled spring.
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1695 Jul 8
Christian Huygens (66), Dutch inventor, astronomer, died. He generally wrote his name as Christiaan Hugens, and it is also sometimes written as Huyghens. In his book “Cosmotheros,” published in 1698, he speculated on life on other planets.
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1698 Nov
English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742) set off in the Paramore to map the Atlantic’s magnetic declinations and hopefully solve the problem of calculating longitude. He made a 2nd journey in 1699. In 2005 Julie Wakefield authored “Halley’s Quest.”
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1738 Nov 15
Sir William Hershel, British astronomer who discovered Uranus, was born.
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1742 Jan 14
English astronomer Edmond Halley, who observed the comet that now bears his name, died at age 85. In 2005 Julie Wakefield authored “Halley’s Quest,” in which she covered Halley’s travels to Brazil to map the Atlantic’s magnetic declinations and hopefully solve the problem of calculating longitude.
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1749 Mar 23
Pierre-Simon Laplace (d.1827), French mathematician, astronomer, physicist, was born.
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1769
Construction of Britain’s Kew Observatory, built within the Old Deer Park of the former Richmond Palace in Richmond, Surrey, was completed. It was an astronomical and terrestrial magnetic observatory founded by King George III.
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1781 Mar 13
Astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, which he named 'Georgium Sidus,' in honor of George III. He initially though it was a comet. It is the 7th planet from the sun and revolves around the sun every 84.02 years. It is 14.6 time the size of Earth and has five satellites.
Links: Britain, Astronomy, Uranus     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1787 Jan 11
Titania and Oberon, moons of Uranus, were discovered by William Herschel.
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1787
1948
William Herschel and other astronomers spotted 5 moons circling Uranus during this period.
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1792 Feb 15
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre (42), astronomer and surveyor, was elected to the French Academy of Sciences to help establish the length of a proposed new unit of measurement, the meter.
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1793 Apr 29
John Michell (b.1724) English clergyman and natural philosopher, died in Yorkshire. He provided pioneering insights in a wide range of scientific fields, including astronomy, geology, optics, and gravitation. Michell was the first person to propose that black holes existed.
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1799 Jun 22
In France a scientific congress adopted the length of the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance along the surface of the Earth from its equator to its pole, in a curved line of latitude passing through the center of Paris. The congress used data gathered by astronomers, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre and Pierre-François-André Mechain. The established meter proved to be .2 millimeters too short, due to incorrect latitude data gathered by Mechain.
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1801 Jan 1
Giuseppi Piazzi (d.1826), Italian astronomer, discovered an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. He believed it to be a planet and named it Ceres, after the Roman goddess of the harvest. Ceres was later measured to be about 974km in diameter, roughly the length of Great Britain and 1% the mass of Earth’s moon.
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1820
The first permanent astronomical observatory in the southern hemisphere was built near Cape Town, South Africa.
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1827 Mar 5
Pierre-Simon Laplace (b.1749), French mathematician, astronomer, physicist, died. He invented perturbation theory and wrote the 5-volume work "Celestial Mechanics." In 1998 Charles Couiston Gillespie published his biography "Pierre-Simon Laplace: A Life in Exact Science."
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1835
The Vatican removed “On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres” (1543) by Nicholas Copernicus from its list of banned books.
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1838
Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, German astronomer and director of the Konigsberg Observatory, made the first reliable parallax measurement for a star known as 61 Cygni. This gave a distance from the sun of 10.9 light-years. Thomas Henderson, Scottish astronomer, measured the parallax of Alpha Centauri whose distance is calculated to be 4.3 light-years from the Sun.
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1847 Oct 1
Maria Mitchell (29), American astronomer living on Nantucket Island, discovered a new comet that was named after herself. In 1848 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts, the first woman to be so honored. Frederick VI, the King of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery.
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1859 Sep 1
British astronomers Richard C. Carrington (33) and R. Hodgson (1804-1872) independently made the 1st observation of a solar flare, aka coronal mass ejection. A day later auroras lit up all of the British Isles. Telegraph communication was disrupted in every technically advanced nation.
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1868
In 2008 scientists, using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, reported that a supernova took place in the Milky Way about this time.
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1873 Feb 1
Matthew Fontaine Maury (b.1806), American astronomer, died. He was also a historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator. Maury proposed that the US invite the maritime nations of the world to a conference to establish a “universal system” of meteorology, and he was the leading spirit of that pioneer scientific conference when it met in Brussels in 1853. Within a few years, nations owning three fourths of the shipping of the world were sending their oceanographic observations to Maury at the Naval Observatory, where the information was evaluated and the results given worldwide distribution.
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1875
Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), professor of astronomy at Vassar, helped found the American Association for the Advancement of Women and was elected the association’s 1st president.
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