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On this day in 1629 - April 14th - Dutch scientist and mathematician Christiaan Huygens was born.

Huygens was a prominent scientist in his day, his varied contributions including the invention of the pendulum clock, and the discovery of Saturn's moon Titan. NASA named its Titan lander after him.


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On this day in 1972 - April 16th - Apollo 16 was launched.

It was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly.



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On this day in 1598 - April 17th - the Italian astronomer Giovanni Riccioli was born.

Riccioli's best known for his Almagestum Novum published in 1651. It included his Moon map and over 1500 folio pages densely packed with text, tables and illustrations. The work became a standard technical reference book for astronomers all over Europe and included the names of prominent lunar features still in current use.


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On this day in 2014 - April 18th - NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) was intentionally crashed into Moon at end of its mission.

LADEE, orbiting the Moon's equator, studied the lunar exosphere and dust in the Moon's vicinity. It was crashed on the far side of the Moon to ensure that it didn't damage historically important landing sites on the near side.


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On this day in 1971 - April 19th - Salyut 1 was launched.

Salyut 1, launched by the Soviet Union, was the first ever manned space station.


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On this day in 1967 - April 19th - NASA's Surveyor 3 unmanned probe landed on the Moon.

In November 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean would land near the probe and remove some parts to return them to Earth.



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On this day in 1967 - April 20th - Apollo 16 astronauts landed on the Moon.

Commander John Young and lunar module pilot Charles Duke spent three days on the lunar surface.


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On this day in 1858 - April 23rd - Max Planck was born.

Planck was a German theoretical physicist best known as the originator of quantum theory. His work won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. The European Space Agency (ESA) named a space observatory for him - it mapped the cosmic microwave background from 2009-2013.


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On this day in 1990 - April 25th - the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed.

The STS-31 mission of the shuttle Discovery launched the telescope.


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On this day in 1920 - April 26th - the Shapley-Curtis debate took place on the nature and distance of spiral nebulae.

Even less than a century ago, we didn't know what the "spiral nebulae" were. Were they objects in our Milky Way galaxy and therefore comparatively close? Or were they "island universes", i.e., other galaxies, and therefore at a great distance?


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