Master of Galactic Astronomy: A Biography of Jan Hendrik Oort

Pieter C. van der Kruit

“The astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort, who was instrumental in the development of contemporary astronomy in the 20th century, is the subject of this informative and engaging biography, which details his life and the achievements he achieved. This book places some of Oort’s most significant accomplishments in their proper context. These include his discovery that the Milky Way rotates, as well as his famous hypothesis that our Solar System is surrounded by a reservoir of comets, which is now simply known as the Oort Cloud. Other achievements include his discovery that the Milky Way rotates.

This fascinating account was written by Oort’s former student, and it delves into Oort’s pivotal role in the foundation of major astronomical facilities, such as radio telescopes in the Netherlands and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which operates the most successful astronomical observatories in the world at this time. The story is also full of other fascinating information.

This book paints a more detailed picture of Oort’s life not just as an astronomer, but also as a husband, father, and citizen, and it draws extensively on new archival research through the Oort Archives. It also includes personal reminiscences by Oort’s son and astronomer-grandson. This book could not have been published at a better time, given the surge in public interest in comets that has been sparked by the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the recent discovery of an interstellar comet in the Solar System.”