Author(s): Pieter Corijnus van der Kruit
Publisher: Springer, Year: 2021
This accessible and entertaining biography chronicles the life and triumphs of astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort, who helped lay the foundations of modern astronomy in the 20th century. The book puts into context some of Oort’s most significant achievements, including his discovery that the Milky Way rotates, as well as his famous hypothesis that our Solar System is surrounded by a reservoir of comets — now simply known as the Oort Cloud.
Written by Oort’s former student, this fascinating story also delves into Oort’s pivotal role in the foundation of major astronomical facilities, including radio telescopes in the Netherlands and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which now operates the most successful astronomical observatories in the world.
The book draws extensively on new archival research through the Oort Archives, along with personal reminiscences by Oort’s son and astronomer-grandson, to paint a more detailed picture of Oort’s life not just as an astronomer, but also as a husband, father, and citizen. The strong public interest in comets triggered by the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the recently discovered interstellar comet in the Solar System make this book particularly timely.