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Born on this day
John Hasbrouck Van Vleck
John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (March 13, 1899 – October 27, 1980) was an American physicist and mathematician, co-awarded the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his contributions to the understanding of the behavior of electrons in magnetic solids.
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William Herschel discovers Uranus13.3.1781

Wikipedia (08 Mar 2013, 13:51)
Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.

Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. The earliest recorded sighting was in 1690 when John Flamsteed observed the planet at least six times, cataloging it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Lemonnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769, including on four consecutive nights.

Sir William Herschel observed the planet on March 13, 1781 while in the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in the town of Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), but initially reported it (on April 26, 1781) as a "comet". Herschel "engaged in a series of observations on the parallax of the fixed stars", using a telescope of his own design.

He recorded in his journal "In the quartile near ζ Tauri ... either Nebulous star or perhaps a comet". On March 17, he noted, "I looked for the Comet or Nebulous Star and found that it is a Comet, for it has changed its place".

Herschel notified the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, of his discovery and received this flummoxed reply from him on April 23: "I don't know what to call it. It is as likely to be a regular planet moving in an orbit nearly circular to the sun as a Comet moving in a very eccentric ellipsis. I have not yet seen any coma or tail to it".

While Herschel continued to cautiously describe his new object as a comet, other astronomers had already begun to suspect otherwise. Russian astronomer Anders Johan Lexell was the first to compute the orbit of the new object and its nearly circular orbit led him to a conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode described Herschel's discovery as "a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn". Bode concluded that its near-circular orbit was more like a planet than a comet.

The object was soon universally accepted as a new planet. By 1783, Herschel himself acknowledged this fact to Royal Society president Joseph Banks: "By the observation of the most eminent Astronomers in Europe it appears that the new star, which I had the honour of pointing out to them in March 1781, is a Primary Planet of our Solar System." In recognition of his achievement, King George III gave Herschel an annual stipend of £200 on the condition that he move to Windsor so that the Royal Family could have a chance to look through his telescopes.

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