Pioneering astronomers

From the objects and instruments used to explore space to the men who mapped the stars, we provide an insight into some of the most groundbreaking astronomical discoveries of our time and the people who made them happen.

Valentina Tereshkova

We know the names of the first men in space, and on the Moon - but what about the women?


The Prime Meridian was defined at the Royal Observatory Greenwich by the legendary Airy Transit Circle telescope.

Sir George Biddell Airy (1801-92)

Within the Caird Library’s collection of rare books is the personal library of the seventh Astronomer Royal, Sir George Biddell Airy. It features a plethora of scientific and astronomical research, as well as some of the Library’s most historically significant works such as Copernicus’s influential De revolutionibus orbium coelestium and Flamsteed’s controversial Historiae coelestis, which was published without his consent.


John Goodricke and Konstantin Tsiolkowski, both deaf, were among the most remarkably gifted of astronomers.


Neither the smallest nor the largest objects in the known Universe escaped the brilliant Hooke’s attention.


George Biddell Airy was Astronomer Royal for much of the 19th century and he amassed a treasure trove of data.


The story of Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy and the remarkable Airy Transit Circle telescope he designed at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.


Astronomer George Biddell Airy designed the legendary Airy Transit Circle telescope which defined the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

28 inch Visual Refractor Telescope Royal Observatory L8627-028_tile.JPG

Useful tips from the space experts at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on how to become an astronomer

Galileo Galilei, Niccolo Cecconi.jpg

Galileo pioneered the use of the telescope for observing the night sky. His discoveries undermined traditional ideas about a perfect and unchanging cosmos with the Earth at its centre.