On this day in 1931 - May 27th - Swiss physicist and explorer Auguste Piccard, with Paul Kipfer, became the first to travel into the stratosphere.
They reached a record altitude in a balloon with a pressurized aluminum gondola designed by Piccard. Piccard wanted to measure the activity of cosmic rays and investigate Einstein's theory of relativity.
By comparing the apparent distance between stars in the constellation Taurus, with and without the Sun between them, British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington confirmed the theoretical predictions about gravitational lenses.
On this day in 1858 - June 2nd - Giovanni Battista Donati first observed the comet that bears his name.
Comet Donati, formally designated C/1858 L1 and 1858 VI, was one of the most brilliant comets of the 19th century. It inspired artists and poets and was also the first comet to be photographed, though the photograph has apparently been lost.
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