On this day in 1587 - January 8th - Johannes Fabricius was born.
Fabricius was a German/Frisian astronomer, eldest son of David Fabricius who was also an astronomer. In their solar observing they discovered sunspots about the same time as, and independently of, Galileo.
On this day in 1942 - January 8th - Stephen Hawking was born.
Hawking is possible the most famous living scientist. For thirty years he held the prestigious post of Lucasian Professor at the University of Cambridge, though he retired a number of years ago. (Isaac Newton was once Lucasian Professor.) He's best known for his work on black holes.
On this day in 1839 - January 9th - Thomas Henderson published his determination of the distance to Alpha Centauri.
Henderson had actually been the first person to calculate the distance to a fixed star by using stellar parallax. However he had delayed publishing his results, and the credit for being first went elsewhere.
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