On this day in 1871 – January 2nd – the American astronomer Anne Sewell Young was born in Bloomington, Wisconsin.
In 1899 she went to teach at Mount Holyoke College where she was appointed director of the observatory of the John Payson Williston Observatory. She remained there until her retirement. Young's primary astronomical interest was in variable stars, and she was one of the eight original members of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO).
The great physicist and mathematician was born on Christmas Day 1642, according to the Julian Calendar then in use. Nearly a century later England adopted the Gregorian calendar, and the equivalent date is ten days later.
On this day in 1797 – January 4th – German astronomer Wilhelm Beer was born.
Beer was an amateur astronomer, who with Johannes Heinrich Maedler, published the first map of the Moon (Mappa Salenographica). They also made a map of Mars and calculated the planet's rotation period to within 0.1 second of today's figure.
On this day in 1892 – January 5th – the first successful photograph was taken of an aurora.
Early cameras couldn't catch the dim light of an aurora, and long exposures didn't capture the movement. German physicist Martin Brendel and a fellow scientist, on an expedition in northern Norway, took the first successful image, and revolutionized the study of the northern lights.
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