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The Most Famous

ASTRONOMERS from Netherlands

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This page contains a list of the greatest Dutch Astronomers. The pantheon dataset contains 531 Astronomers, 20 of which were born in Netherlands. This makes Netherlands the birth place of the 6th most number of Astronomers behind France and Italy.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Dutch Astronomers of all time. This list of famous Dutch Astronomers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Dutch Astronomers.

Photo of Jan Oort

1. Jan Oort (1900 - 1992)

With an HPI of 65.26, Jan Oort is the most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages on wikipedia.

Jan Hendrik Oort ( or ; 28 April 1900 – 5 November 1992) was a Dutch astronomer who made significant contributions to the understanding of the Milky Way and who was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. His New York Times obituary called him "one of the century's foremost explorers of the universe"; the European Space Agency website describes him as "one of the greatest astronomers of the 20th century" and states that he "revolutionised astronomy through his ground-breaking discoveries." In 1955, Oort's name appeared in Life magazine's list of the 100 most famous living people. He has been described as "putting the Netherlands in the forefront of postwar astronomy."Oort determined that the Milky Way rotates and overturned the idea that the Sun was at its center. He also postulated the existence of the mysterious invisible dark matter in 1932, which is believed to make up roughly 84.5% of the total matter in the Universe and whose gravitational pull causes "the clustering of stars into galaxies and galaxies into connecting strings of galaxies". He discovered the galactic halo, a group of stars orbiting the Milky Way but outside the main disk. Additionally Oort is responsible for a number of important insights about comets, including the realization that their orbits "implied there was a lot more solar system than the region occupied by the planets."The Oort cloud, the Oort constants, and the asteroid 1691 Oort were all named after him.

Photo of Pieter van Musschenbroek

2. Pieter van Musschenbroek (1692 - 1761)

With an HPI of 63.25, Pieter van Musschenbroek is the 2nd most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Pieter van Musschenbroek (14 March 1692 – 19 September 1761) was a Dutch scientist. He was a professor in Duisburg, Utrecht, and Leiden, where he held positions in mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and astronomy. He is credited with the invention of the first capacitor in 1746: the Leyden jar. He performed pioneering work on the buckling of compressed struts. Musschenbroek was also one of the first scientists (1729) to provide detailed descriptions of testing machines for tension, compression, and flexure testing. An early example of a problem in dynamic plasticity was described in the 1739 paper (in the form of the penetration of butter by a wooden stick subjected to impact by a wooden sphere).

Photo of Gerard Kuiper

3. Gerard Kuiper (1905 - 1973)

With an HPI of 61.97, Gerard Kuiper is the 3rd most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.

Gerard Peter Kuiper (English: ; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈkœypər]; born Gerrit Pieter Kuiper; 7 December 1905 – 23 December 1973) was a Dutch astronomer, planetary scientist, selenographer, author and professor. He is the eponymous namesake of the Kuiper belt. Kuiper is considered by many to be the father of modern planetary science.

Photo of Tom Gehrels

4. Tom Gehrels (1925 - 2011)

With an HPI of 58.02, Tom Gehrels is the 4th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Anton M.J. "Tom" Gehrels (February 21, 1925 – July 11, 2011) was a Dutch–American astronomer, Professor of Planetary Sciences, and Astronomer at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Photo of Cornelis Johannes van Houten

5. Cornelis Johannes van Houten (1920 - 2002)

With an HPI of 56.88, Cornelis Johannes van Houten is the 5th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Cornelis Johannes van Houten (18 February 1920 – 24 August 2002) was a Dutch astronomer, sometimes referred to as Kees van Houten.

Photo of Antonie Pannekoek

6. Antonie Pannekoek (1873 - 1960)

With an HPI of 56.79, Antonie Pannekoek is the 6th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Antonie “Anton” Pannekoek (Dutch: [ɑntɔn pɑnnəkuk]; 2 January 1873 – 28 April 1960) was a Dutch astronomer, philosopher, Marxist theorist, and socialist revolutionary. He was one of the main theorists of council communism (Dutch: radencommunisme).

Photo of Jacobus Kapteyn

7. Jacobus Kapteyn (1851 - 1922)

With an HPI of 55.85, Jacobus Kapteyn is the 7th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Prof Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn FRS FRSE LLD (19 January 1851 – 18 June 1922) was a Dutch astronomer. He carried out extensive studies of the Milky Way and was the discoverer of evidence for galactic rotation. Kapteyn was also among the first to suggest the existence of dark matter using stellar velocities as early as 1922.

Photo of John Goodricke

8. John Goodricke (1764 - 1786)

With an HPI of 54.87, John Goodricke is the 8th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

John Goodricke FRS (17 September 1764 – 20 April 1786) was an English amateur astronomer. He is best known for his observations of the variable star Algol (Beta Persei) in 1782.

Photo of Walter Lewin

9. Walter Lewin (1936 - )

With an HPI of 53.09, Walter Lewin is the 9th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Walter Hendrik Gustav Lewin (born January 29, 1936) is a Dutch astrophysicist and retired professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lewin earned his doctorate in nuclear physics in 1965 at the Delft University of Technology and was a member of MIT's physics faculty for 43 years beginning in 1966 until his retirement in 2009. Lewin's contributions in astrophysics include the first discovery of a rotating neutron star through all-sky balloon surveys and research in X-ray detection in investigations through satellites and observatories. Lewin has received awards for teaching and is known for his lectures on physics and their publication online via YouTube, MIT OpenCourseWare and edX. In December 2014, MIT revoked Lewin's Professor Emeritus title after an MIT investigation determined that Lewin had violated university policy by sexually harassing an online student in an online MITx course he taught in fall 2013.

Photo of Adriaan Blaauw

10. Adriaan Blaauw (1914 - 2010)

With an HPI of 52.52, Adriaan Blaauw is the 10th most famous Dutch Astronomer.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Adriaan Blaauw (12 April 1914 – 1 December 2010) was a Dutch astronomer. Blaauw was born in Amsterdam to Cornelis Blaauw and Gesina Clasina Zwart, and studied at Leiden University and the University of Groningen, obtaining his doctorate at the latter in 1946. In 1948, he was appointed an associate professor at Leiden. In the 1950s he worked a few years at the Yerkes Observatory, before returning to Europe in 1957 to become director of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen. Blaauw was closely involved in the founding of the European Southern Observatory, and was its general director from 1970 to 1975. In 1975, he returned to the Netherlands, becoming a full professor at Leiden, until his retirement in 1981. From 1976 to 1979, he served as president of the International Astronomical Union. He chaired the committee for assigning scientific priorities for the observing programme of the astrometric satellite Hipparcos. His research has involved star formation, the motions of star clusters and stellar associations, and distance scale. His main contributions are the explanation of the origin of stars that move with high velocity in our galaxy and the description of star formation in associations.Among his many honours he was made member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963, elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. In 1989, he was awarded the Bruce Medal. In 1997, the University of Groningen instituted a Blaauw chair and Blaauw lecture in his honour. The asteroid 2145 Blaauw and the Blaauw Observatory are named after him. He died in 2010 in the city of Groningen.

Pantheon has 20 people classified as astronomers born between 1598 and 1955. Of these 20, 3 (15.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living astronomers include Walter Lewin, Maarten Schmidt, and Ewine van Dishoeck. The most famous deceased astronomers include Jan Oort, Pieter van Musschenbroek, and Gerard Kuiper. As of April 2022, 2 new astronomers have been added to Pantheon including Michael van Langren and Kees de Jager.

Living Astronomers

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Deceased Astronomers

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Newly Added Astronomers (2022)

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Which Astronomers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 15 most globally memorable Astronomers since 1700.