A Brief History of High-Energy Astronomy: 1600 - 1699
In Reverse Chronological Order
|6 Jul 1687
Sir Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia
Mathematica" (Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy)
|1667 or 1679
||The inferred date of the supernova explosion which produced the
Cassiopeia (Cas) A supernova remnant (SNR 111.7-02.1), the
last supernova known to have
occurred in our (Milky Way) Galaxy. It has been somewhat puzzling to
modern astronomers as to why there are no definitive observations by
contemporaneous eastern or western astronomers of this supernova,
although it has been suggested by Ashworth (1980, Journal for the History
of Astronomy, 11, 1) that Flamsteed may have seen it, since
there is a star marked in John Bevis's Uranographia Britannica (sky atlas),
which was created in the 18th century, at the position at which Cas A
||The first definitive detection by Western astronomers of a classical
nova, now called Nova Vul 1670 or CK Vul. The discoverer is believed
to be Dom Anthelme, a Carthusian monk, who reported a new 3rd magnitude star
in (what was then) the constellation of Cygnus. After CK Vul faded out of
sight in 1672, it was not until 1982 that astronomers located the now much
fainter star and the nebulosity ejected in the outburst: see Shara et al.
(ApJ, 294, 271, 1985) for a review of this object.
||The Italian astronomer Geminiano Montanari discovers that the star
(also known as Beta Persei or the Demon Star) is a variable star, making
it one of the first non-nova, non-supernova variable stars discovered.
Algol was later discovered by John Goodricke (1783, Phil. Trans. Royal Society
of London, 73, 474) to be a periodic
variable star, and (much) later (in the 1970s) this eclipsing binary star
was found to be both a strong radio and X-ray emitter.
||The publication of the first volume of the Philosophical Transactions
(of the Royal Society of London), generally considered to be the first
true "scientific" journal (although the term "scientific" hadn't been
invented at this date). Interestingly, among the very first articles in the
debut volume were ones on astronomical topics such as the belts of Jupiter and
on a comet.
||Studies of the occurrence rate of sunspots, as well as radiocarbon
(C14) analysis of tree rings, indicate a 70-year
period of lower than average solar activity, now called the Maunder
Minimum. This period was, likely not coincidentally, one with
cooler than average global temperatures, implying that the solar
luminosity was also reduced during this interval.
||Publication in March 1632 of Galileo Galilei's "Dialogue
Concerning the Two
Chief Systems of the World - Ptolemaic and Copernican" in which
he compared and contrasted the geocentric and heliocentric models, followed
in 1633 by his trial and conviction by the Inquisition.|
||The first detection by Western astronomers of a probable nova,
in the constellation of Leo. This nova reached 4th magnitude and was
reported by the German astronomer and Jesuit priest Christoph Scheiner.
Galileo Galilei builds his telescope in 1609 and discovers over the
next several years, among other things, the phases of Venus,
the Galilean satellites around Jupiter, and the presence of sunspots
on the Sun.
Kepler's "Commentaries on the motions of
Mars" which includes Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion.
||Invention of the telescope by Hans Lippershey,
a German-Dutch len grinder and eyeglass maker and/or other Dutch instrument
Johannes Kepler records the appearance and motion of the comet of 1607
(later to be known as Halley's Comet (P/Halley)).
Galileo, as well as Chinese and Korean astronomers, observe and record
a "new star" in Serpens (Ophiuchus in the modern IAU-designated
constellations) which is now recognized to be a supernova (SN 1604).
The remnant of this supernova, SNR
004.5+06.8, is referred to as
Kepler's SNR in honor of its co-discoverer (sorry, Mr. Galileo et
|Feb 17, 1600
||The execution by the Inquisition of the philosopher
and Dominican monk Giordano
Bruno for his espousal of the Copernican heliocentric hypothesis and
his refusal to recant his beliefs.|
We would like to thank the following individuals for their
contributions to this page:
Jesse S. Allen, and
Ian M. George
JPL's Space Calendar and the
Working Group for the History of Astronomy's
Astronomiae Historia (History of Astronomy) information pages.
Web page author: Stephen A. Drake (based on an original by Jesse S. Allen)
Web page maintainer: Stephen A. Drake
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Last modified: Wednesday, 09-May-2012 10:13:22 EDT