In the seventeenth century a certain David Fabricius
boasted of having seen with his own eyes the inhabitants of the moon.
As with Algol, awareness of Mira's changing intensity is rumored to have ancient origins, but solid credit goes to the German clergyman David Fabricius
. While measuring Jupiter's position in 1596, Fabricius noticed a 3rd-magnitude star where none was seen before.
The book is enlivened by a liberal sprinkling of anecdotes about the history of astronomy and the personalities involved in it--for example, in Chapter 33 we read that David Fabricius
, who discovered the variability of Mira, was later murdered by a peasant whom he had accused of stealing a goose!
Voelkel also explores the more amicable interactions between Kepler and David Fabricius
, an astronomer with whom Kepler shared his discoveries.
In 1596 the German astronomer David Fabricius
(1564-1617) noticed its changing light intensity.
Ever since Dutch clergyman and stargazer David Fabricius
recognized the first periodic variable--Mira (Omicron Ceti)--in 1596, observers have monitored the cyclic brightenings and fadings of thousands of such stars.
, a Dutch cleric and astronomer, spotted it at maximum brightness in August 1596 and watched it fade from view by October.