. On this day in 1909 – May 5th – Irish astronomer Mervyn Archdall Ellison was born in Fethard-on-Sea, County Wexford.
He was a world authority on solar physics and the effect of solar flares on the Earth. Ellison began his research when working as a school teacher, and continued it at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. He was also a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
. On this day in 1872 – May 6th – Dutch astronomer and mathematician Willem de Sitter was born.
He is best remembered for his contributions to cosmology, in particular for showing that a universe containing very little matter would expand. This paved the way for later research carried out by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble who was to provide observational evidence that the universe is expanding. De Sitter's work was honored with two prestigious awards, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Cecilia Payne was the first woman to earn a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College of Harvard University. And in her PhD thesis, she was the first person to propose that stars stars were composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.
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