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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Fabricius, David"

Fabricius, David [Astro*Index]


(1564-1617) German astronomer and Protestant minister. Born at Esens, Ostfriesland; died at Osteel, Ostfriesland.

Fabricius is the Latinized version of his surname, Goldschmidt. A friend of both Tycho Brahe and Kepler, he was a eager advocate in the use of the telescope for astronomical exploration. He never accepted Kepler's elliptical orbits, preferring the circles of Plato. He observed that a certain star showed variations in brightness; today this star is called Mira, or Omicron Ceti. This was the first Variable Star to be discovered. Unlike the binary star Algol (Beta Persei), whose variations in brightness are caused by the periodic occultation of a companion star, Mira Ceti is a single red giant which fluctuates between magnitude 1 and 10 in a period of about 331 days. The views of Aristotle, requiring that the heavens be perfect and constant, were given another damaging blow by this discovery. Fabricius was murdered by one of his own parishioners, whom Fabricius threatened to expose as a thief.

See also:
♦ Kepler, Johannes ♦ Plato


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