Edward Emerson Barnard – The Pioneer of the Astrophotography
Edward Emerson Barnard was born in Nashville, USA, on December 16, 1857, with poor prospects of achieving some major success in his life. He never met his father because he died three months before his birth. He grew up with his mother and brother in a poor family without the opportunity to gain a solid education. He survived a civil war and a cholera attack.
From early childhood, he showed great interest in photography, and already at the age of nine he became a photo assistant in a studio. He will deal with photography for the rest of his life, but he has achieved his greatest successes, and even world fame in astronomy. When he was 19 years old (1876), he gave $ 400 for a small telescope, a five-inch refractor. Those $ 400 were two-thirds of his annual salary in the studio. It will be revealed that this was well spent for him and that a great astronomical career was in front of him. In 1881 he ran his first, until then unknown comet. However, he failed to publish this discovery, but in the same year he found another comet, and the next and the third. Thus he became known in astronomical circles. In the late 1980s, Hulbert Harrington Warner, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist, offered $ 200 for any discovery of the new comet. Barnard found them five and so he made enough money for himself and his young wife, because, in the meantime, he married, he bought a house.
All this inspired a group of amateur astronomer Nashville to collect scholarship money and send Barnard to study at Vanderbilt University. Barnard never graduated, but he received a honorary degree from the university – the only university that he has ever awarded to this university.
In 1887, he entered service at the Academy of Arts, where he continued his successful career in astronomy. In his biographies it is said that in 1889 he watched the passage of Japets behind Saturn’s rings, then in 1892 he watched a new one and spotted a gas emission from it, and that same year it was gritty to Almathe, the fifth Jupiter’s satellite. It was the first discovery of one of Jupiter’s satellites since Galileo (1609), and the earliest and most recent visualized way.
Barnard then switches to Chicago University where he works as a professor of astronomy. There he got the opportunity to use a large telescope of 40 inches of Yerkes Observatory and spend a lot of time studying and filming the Milky Way. Together with Max Wolf (a German astronomer) discovered that distant dark areas are actually clouds of gas and dust that block the brightness of bright stars in the background, which we know today as dark mists. He cataloged a large number of dark nebulae (now called Barnard objects), giving them labels similar to what Charles Meyers did in his catalog. He started from Barnard 1 and reached Barnard 370.
However, Barnard is best known today for a star that has his name: Barnard’s star. It’s a red dwarf in the constellation Ofiukus in six light years away from us making it the fourth of us closest to a single star (the first three are the stars of the Alpha Kentaur system). It has a low glow (around 9th magnitude) and is unavailable to the naked eye, although it is pretty shiny in the infrared region and so on. What is important in this story of Barnard is that in 1916, he measured the apparent movement of this star, which is 10.3 arc seconds in a year, the best known apparent movement of any star in relation to the solar system.
In the end, to summarize: Barnard was the pioneer of the astrophotography, he discovered 14 comets, three of which are periodicals, and he has been involved in another two. He found Jupiter’s satellite Almathe, discovered the nature of the dark nebula and made their catalog … Today, one crater on the Moon and one on Mars carries his name. One asreroid is also called by him (asteroid 819, Barnardiana). One area in Ganymede is called Barnard Region (Barnard Regio). The NGC 6822 galaxy also bears its name. Barnard’s Loop is an emission nebula, part of Orion’s cloud. One star is also called by him, and we mentioned it a little before. One room at Vanderbilt University bears the name Barnard Hall. There is a Barnard Astronomical Society astronomical society, and a mountain in California named after this astronomer.
Edward Emerson Barnard died February 6, 1923.