On this day in 1835 – March 12th – Canadian-American mathematician and astronomer Simon Newcomb was born.
Newcomb made important contributions to international timekeeping and other fields in applied mathematics such as economics and statistics. He was a professor at the United States Naval Observatory and at Johns Hopkins.
On this day in 1855 – March 13th – Percival Lowell was born.
Lowell was an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and began the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death. Lowell was also convinced there were canals on Mars.
On this day in 1855 – March 14th – Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli was born.
Schiaparelli produced the most detailed map of Mars ever published, and it became a standard reference in planetary cartography. When he referred to canali (channels) on Mars, it was translated into English as canals, and Percival Lowell was convinced that there was an advanced civilization on Mars.
On this day in 2016 – March 14th – part 1 of the ExoMars astrobiology mission was launched.
ExoMars is a joint ESA/Roscosmos mission. The launch of the spacecraft containing ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli lander was successful. (TGO is now in orbit around Mars, but the lander crashed.)
On this day in 1750 – March 16th – Caroline Herschel was born.
Caroline Herschel was an assistant to her brother William. She also discovered eight comets and a number of deep-sky objects. Caroline Herschel was also the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society for her work.