Early Variable Star Discoverers and Researchers

Dom Voituret Anthelme (c. 1618 - Dec 14, 1683)
Born in Chatenay, France, Voituret Anthelme became a Carthusian monk who did some work in astronomy. He discovered and observed Nova 1670 Vulpeculae, the first ordinary nova discovered in modern times, later also named CK Vulpeculae. Also published Explication de la comete and other treatises.
- Anthelme biography (Galileo Project, Rice University)
Willem Janszoom Blaeu (1571 - Oct 21, 1638)
In 1600, he discovered a new variable star in Cygnis, then called Nova 1600 Cygni and later named P Cygni. According to R.H. Allen (1899), he was also a skilled globe-maker starting from 1592, and called himself also Jansenius Caesius. In 1596 he founded a carthographic office which produced sea and land as well as celestial maps, globes and atlasses.
Tycho Brahe (Dec 14, 1546 - Oct 24, 1601)
Observed, studied and described Supernova 1572, often called after him "Tycho's Supernova." Having studied law in various European places, Tycho (whose original name was Tyge Brahe) turned to professional astronomy and with the help of Danish King Frederick II, established his observatories "Uranienburg" (1580) and "Sternenburg" (1584) on the island Hven, where he performed astrometric measures which were the best in pre-telescopic times. Results were the discovery that comets are situated in space beyond the Moon, of Lunar variation and acurate planetary pathes in the sky. He also invented a new (the "Tychonic") world system and was engaged in astrology and alchimy.
- Tycho Brahe biography
Probably first discovered Supernova 1604.
In 1827, he discovered with certainty the variability of Eta Carinae
Discovered Nova 1783 Sagittae, also named WY Sagittae (WY Sge)
Ismail Bouillaud (Bullialdus; Sep 28, 1605 - Nov 25, 1694)
Observed Mira (Omicron Ceti) and found its period to be about 333 days.
- Ismail Bouillaud biography
David Fabricius (Mar 9, 1564 - May 7, 1617)
Born in friesian Esens, David Fabricius was protestant pastor first in Westerhave, then in Osteel, and amateur astronomer. In 1596, he discovered variable star Mira (Omicron Ceti). He was known to Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, and reported several naked-eye sunspot observations. He is reported to have been murdered because he claimed, in one of his last sermons, to know the currently active thief of chickens and geese.
David Fabricius biography (Manfred Holl, in German)
John Flamsteed (Aug 19, 1646 - Dec 3, 1719)
Possibly observed the supernova which created the remnant and radio source Cassiopeia A on August 16, 1680.
- John Flamsteed biography
In 1821, he discovered the variability of Epsilon Aurigae.
John Goodricke (1764 - 1786)
In 1784, he discovered the variability of Sheliak (Beta Lyrae), an eclipsing variable, and the variability of Delta Cephei, the second known Cepheid variable and name patron for this class of variable stars. He also gave the correct explanation of the variability of Algol as eclipsing variable. Being deaf from his birth, Goodricke collaborated in observing with his close friend and neighbor, Edward Pigott until his untimely death in 1786, from pneumonia he probably caught when observing Delta Cephei.
- John Goodricke biography (Jens Dengler, Berlin)
Edmond Halley (Oct 29, 1656 - Jan 14, 1742)
Discovered Eta Carinae. Published a first list of (6) variables.
- Edmond Halley biography
Karl Ludwig Harding (Sep 29, 1765 - Aug 31, 1834)
Over the years, Harding discovered four variable stars, all of Mira type: R Virginis in 1809, R Aquarii in 1810, R Serpentis in 1826, and S Serpentis in 1828.
John Herschel (Mar 7, 1792 - May 11, 1871)
In 1836, John Herschel discovered the variability of red supergiant star Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), of type SR c.
- John Herschel biography
William Herschel (Nov 15, 1738 - Aug 25, 1822)
In 1785, William Herschel discovered the variability of i Bootis B, an eclipsing variable of W UMa type. In 1795, he discovered the semiregular variability of red supergiant star Ras Algheti (Alpha Herculis), of type SR c.
- William Herschel biography
Johan [Jan, Johannes] Hevelius (Jan 28, 1611 - Jan 28, 1687)
Observed Mira (Omicron Ceti) and christened it "Mira."
- Johan Hevelius biography
Jan Fokkens (Johann Phocylides) Holwarda (1618 - 1651)
Rediscovered the variable star Mira (Omicron Ceti) in 1638, and in subsequent years discovered its periodicity of about 11 months.
Lunar crater Phocylides (52.7S, 57.0W, 121 km diameter) was named to his honor in 1935. (USGS Planetary Nomenclature)
Johannes Kepler (Dec 27, 1571 - Nov 15, 1630)
Observed, studied and described Supernova 1604, often called after him "Kepler's Supernova."
Gottfried Kirch (Dec 18, 1639 - Jul 25, 1710)
In 1687, discovered the variability of Chi Cygni
- Gottfried Kirch biography
J.A. Koch
In 1782, discovered the Mira variable star R Leonis.
Giacomo Filippo (Jacques Philippe) Maraldi (Maraldi I, Aug 21, 1665 - Dec 1, 1729)
In 1704, discovered the Mira type variable star R Hydrae
- Jacques Philippe Maraldi (Maraldi I) biography
Geminiano Montanari
In 1669, he discovered the variability of Algol (Beta Persei).
Edward Pigott (1753 - Jun 27, 1825)
In 1784, he discovered Eta Aquilae, the first known Delta Cephei star. Edward Pigott collaborated in observing with his neighbor and good friend, John Goodricke, until Goodricke's death in 1786. In 1795, he found the particular variable R Coronae Borealis which is the prototype of an important class of variables, and the RV Tauri variable star R Scuti.
- Edward Pigott biography
W. Schuler
Probably the first discoverer of Supernova 1572.
In 1829, he discovered the Mira type variable R Cancri.

Hartmut Frommert [contact]