Education

Famous Solar Physicists

Solar physicists specialize in the study of the Sun. These scientists make detailed measurements that are possible only because the Sun is uniquely situated for close-range observing (other stars cannot be resolved with anything like the spatial or temporal resolution that the Sun can). Solar physics includes many disciplines of pure physics, astrophysics, and computer science, including fluid dynamics, plasma physics including magnetohydrodynamics, seismology, particle physics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, stellar evolution, space physics, spectroscopy, radiative transfer, applied optics, signal processing, computer vision, computational physics, stellar physics and solar astronomy. The study of solar physics is also important as it is believed that changes in the solar atmosphere and solar activity can have a major impact on Earth's climate. The Sun also provides a "physical laboratory" for the study of plasma physics.

Solar physics has its roots in ancient China where Chinese astronomers tracked lunar and solar cycles and observed solar phenomena such as solar eclipses and visible sunspots. Historical record keeping was scarce prior to 720 BC, but during the next 240 year period, 37 solar eclipses were noted. Babylonians (modern day Syria) were keeping records from about 1300 BC of solar eclipses as well. According to Greek manuscripts the Egyptians also had the knowledge to predict solar eclipses.

Astronomical knowledge flourished in the Islamic world during medieval times. Many observatories were built in cities from Damascus to Baghdad, where detailed astronomical observations were taken. Further astronomical advancements, during the renaissance period, lead to the significant proposition that planets revolve around the Sun and not around the Earth, as it was believed at the time.

Portrait Gallery:

Aristotle image
Aristotle (ca 384–322 BC)
Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC) image
Aristarchus of Samos (310–230 BC)
 Ibn al-Haytham Alhazen (ca. 965–1040) image
Ibn al-Haytham Alhazen (ca. 965–1040)
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) image
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)
Richard Christopher Carrington image
Richard Christopher Carrington (1826–1875)
Jean Dominique image
Jean Dominique Cassini (1625–1712)
Christoph Clavius (1537–1612)
Christoph Clavius (1537–1612)
Nicolaus Copernicus image
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
René Descartes (1596–1650) image
René Descartes (1596–1650)
Johannes Fabricius (1587–1616) image
Johannes Fabricius (1587–1616)
Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826) image
Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826)
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)  image
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)
George Ellery Hale (1868–1938) image
George Ellery Hale (1868–1938)
Thomas Harriot (ca 1560-1621 BC) image
Thomas Harriot (ca 1560-1621 BC)
John Herschel (1792–1871) image
John Herschel (1792–1871)
Frederick William Herschel (1738–1822) image
Frederick William Herschel (1738–1822)
Johannes Hevelius (1611–1687) image
Johannes Hevelius (1611–1687)
Illustration of Hypatia of Alexandria
Hypatia of Alexandria (370–415 CE)
Jules Janssen (1824-1907) image
Jules Janssen (1824–1907)
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) image
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Gustav Kirchhoff (1824-1887) image
Gustav Kirchhoff (1824-1887)
Samuel P. Langley (1834–1906) image
Samuel P. Langley (1834–1906)
Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749–1827) image
Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749–1827)
J. Norman Lockyer (1836–1920) image
J. Norman Lockyer (1836–1920)
Bernard Lyot (1897–1952) image
Bernard Lyot (1897–1952)
Image of Annie Scott Dill Maunder
Annie Maunder (1868–1947)
Image of Edward Walter Maunder
Edward Maunder (1851–1928)
Isaac Newton (1642–1727) image
Isaac Newton (1642–1727)
Claudius Ptolemy (100–170) image
Claudius Ptolemy (100–170)
Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776–1810) image
Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776–1810)
Christoph Scheiner (1575–1650) image
Christoph Scheiner (1575–1650)
Johann Schroeter (1745–1816) image
Johann Schroeter (1745–1816)
S. Heinrich Schwabe (1789–1875) image
S. Heinrich Schwabe (1789–1875)
Angelo Secchi (1818–1878) image
Angelo Secchi (1818–1878)
Gustav Spörer (1822–1895) image
Gustav Spörer (1822–1895)
Hermann Carl Vogel (1841–1907) image
Hermann Carl Vogel (1841–1907)
Rudolf Wolf (1816–1893) image
Rudolf Wolf (1816–1893)
William Hyde Wollaston (1766–1828) image
William Hyde Wollaston (1766–1828)
Charles A. Young (1834–1908) image
Charles A. Young (1834–1908)