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The German astronomer, Heinrich Olbers

The German astronomer, Heinrich Olbers

H415/0016

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The German astronomer, Heinrich Olbers, 1758-1840. Olbers worked out a method for determining the orbits of comets and he discovered five, one named Olbers' comet. He discovered two asteroids, Pallas and Vesta, and rediscovered the asteroid Ceres. Olbers suggested that asteroids originated through the explosion of a small planet once moving in the asteroid zone. The 1002d asteroid to be discovered was named Olberia in his honour. The Olbers paradox came about when he asked, "Why is the sky dark at night?" Assuming that stars are evenly distributed and infinite in number, the night sky should be bright. We now know that an expanding universe weakens the light of distant stars.

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