Earth and the Moon

Mapping the Night Sky

Who made the first astronomical star catalogs and charts? i

Hipparchus (190–120 B.C.E.), an ancient Greek astronomer of the second century B.C.E., is best remembered for his astronomical measurements and the instruments he created to make them. Hipparchus constructed an atlas of the stars visible without a telescope and categorized them by brightness. In his honor, the acronym for the first major astrometric spacecraft was HIPPARCOS (the High Precision Parallax Collecting Satellite).

Star catalogs increased dramatically in size after telescopes were invented. James Bradley (1693–1762) was England’s Astronomer Royal from 1742 until his death twenty years later. He prepared an accurate chart of the positions of more than sixty thousand stars. German astronomer Johann Elert Bode (1747–1826), who became director of the Berlin Observatory in 1786, published an enormous catalog of stars and their positions in 1801.


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