Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tonight's Sky for December 16: Edward Emerson Barnard Born (1857)

It was on this date in 1857 that the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

Barnard gained fame as an amateur astronomer. As a hobbyist, Barnard discovered 5 comets after Hulbert Harrington Warner offered a prize of $200 per comet discovery. With this money, Barnard built a house for himself and his wife. This feat propelling him to fame, a group of Nashville amateurs pooled enough money to get Barnard into Vanderbilt University. Barnard never graduated but received the only honorary degree Vanderbilt ever awarded.

From there, Barnard moved onto working at observatories, where he discovered Iapetus and Amalthea, the fifth Moon of Jupiter and the last to be discovered visually. Working at the Yerkes Observatory, Barnard used the great 40-inch refractor and became a pioneer astrophotographer. Additionally, he discovered Barnard's Star, the second closest to Earth.  

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