In our Helium facts list of previous article, we only briefly spoke about how Helium was discovered. However, there is much to speak about its discovery. Actually, Helium’s discovery can be broken down into Solar and Terrestrial discovery. In this article, we will learn about Helium Discovery facts and find out how this second-most abundant element in universe was discovered.
Interesting Helium Discovery Facts: 1-5
1. It was 1868, August 18 – a complete solar eclipse totally blanketed the Sun. At that time, Pierre Janssen – an astronomer from France was in India.
2. Janssen was in India not by accident but as a part of his mission to measure Chromosphere – the atmosphere of Sun.
3. It was during that time that Janssen observed that gas spectrum gave away a yellow line. It was strange and Janssen measured its wavelength, which turned out to be 587.49 nanometers.
4. That was the first time a human noticed Helium but it was, at that time, unknown to Janssen. He didn’t really look for the source of the yellow line that showed up in Chromosphere.
5. The same year, in 1868, in the month of October, Sir Norman Lockyer – an astronomer from England set up in London, his own spectrometer. He too noticed that same yellow line.
Interesting Helium Discovery Facts: 6-10
6. Unlike Janssen however, Lockyer was intrigued by the yellow line and he teamed up with Edward Frankland – a chemist in England. The duo concluded that the yellow line was caused by an element, yet unknown to mankind.
7. That’s when Lockyer and Frankland came up with the name Helium. It was named after Helios – the Sun God in Greek mythology.
8. It became a popular notion at that time that Helium – the newly found element existed only and only in Sun. The reason for this notion was that Helium was not seen anywhere else – definitely not on Earth, because no one ever found it.
9. With Lockyer’s and Frankland’s discovery of Helium on Sun, no further studies were conducted because of the belief that it existed beyond Earth.
10. In 1882 however, Luigi Palmieri – a physicist from Italy made an interesting observation on Earth. He was studying the gasses that Mount Vesuvius emitted. He noticed a wavelength of 587.49 nanometers. That was the first time ever that Helium was spotted on Earth.