The Story of Helium and the Birth of Astrophysics

  • Biman B. Nath

Part of the Astronomers' Universe book series (ASTRONOM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 11-19
  3. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 21-63
  4. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 83-99
  5. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 101-116
  6. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 117-138
  7. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 149-174
  8. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 175-202
  9. Biman B. Nath
    Pages 221-247
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 269-274

About this book


Biman Nath
The Story of Helium and the Birth of Astrophysics

Helium was the first element ever discovered by astronomers. Its presence was first indicated in the Sun and not on Earth. Further, its discovery marked the birth of the new science of astrophysics.

However, it turns out that the events leading to the discovery of helium have been rather misrepresented in books, journals, and even encyclopedias. The usual story about its joint discovery during a solar eclipse in 1868 by French astronomer Pierre Janssen and late in England by Norman Lockyer, is far from the truth. Janssen never mentioned any new spectral line in his reports.

The actual story turns out to be as dramatic as in fiction. This book tells the story without jargon, using the words of the scientists themselves (from their letters and reports), and rescues the real story from the backwaters of history.


Birth of astrophysics Cosmic hieroglyphics Discovery of helium Helium properties History of science James Tennant Norman Lockyer Pierre Jules Janssen Spectrum analysis The perpetual eclipse of 1868

Authors and affiliations

  • Biman B. Nath
    • 1
  1. 1.Raman Research InstituteBangaloreIndia

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4614-5362-8
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4614-5363-5
  • Series Print ISSN 1614-659X
  • Buy this book on publisher's site