May 17 – Birth of Norman Lockyer

Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer was born on May 17th 1836 in Rugby.  He has two main claims to fame: founding the journal Nature (which I used to read occasionally until I realized I couldn’t understand a word of it) and the quite tricky discovery of the inert, colorless, tasteless, odourless gas helium, which, because he first identified it in solar spectra, he named after the handsome Greek god of the Sun, Helios.

Norman Lockyer
Norman Lockyer

1887  –  Asteroid 266 Aline discovered by Johann Palisa.  Aline is a C-type asteroid in the main belt, and measures a chunky 108(-ish) km in diameter.  According to the Dictionary of Minor Planet Names by Lutz D Schmadel, the name might be a nod to Linda (“Aline”) Weiss, one of the seven children of the director of Vienna Observatory, Edmund Weiss.  This is quite possible, because Palisa’s previous discovery (265 Anna) had been named for Weiss’s daughter-in-law.


Last updated: May 08, 2019.