Giuseppe Piazzi, Italian astronomer

Giuseppe Piazzi, Italian astronomer

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Caption: Giuseppe Piazzi (1746-1826), Italian astronomer. Piazzi taught philosophy as a monk before developing an interest in astronomy in later life. He was director of the Palermo Observatory from 1790. In 1801, he discovered Ceres, the largest of the asteroids (minor planets which orbit between Mars and Jupiter), naming it after the goddess of agriculture. In 1814, he published a catalogue of 7646 stars. In this work he noted that proper motion (the movement of stars relative to one another rather than due to the Earth's rotation) was a feature of nearly all stars rather than just a few. The 1000th asteroid to be discovered was named Piazzia in his honour.

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