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On this day in 1905 – December 7th – Gerard Kuiper was born.

The Dutch-American astronomer is considered by many to be the father of modern planetary science.





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On this day in 1995 – December 7th – NASA's Galileo spacecraft entered Jupiter's atmosphere and began its prime mission.

Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, though others had done fly-bys of the giant planet.


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On this day in 2010 – December 8th – SpaceX Dragon 1 was launched, the first private spacecraft recovered from orbit.


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On this day in 1999 – December 10th – the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Newton X-Ray Multi-Mirror Telescope (XMM-Newton).

XMM-Newton, named after Sir Isaac Newton, investigated interstellar X-ray sources, used narrow- and broad-range spectroscopy, and performed the first simultaneous imaging of objects in both X-ray and optical (visible and ultraviolet) wavelengths.




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On this day in 1863 – December 11th – American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born.

Cannon classified nearly a quarter of a million star spectra for the Henry Draper Catalogue and oversaw its publication after the death of Edward Pickering.


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On this day in 1972 – December 11th – NASA's last manned lunar mission, Apollo 17, landed on the Moon.








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On this day in 1805 – December 13th – Scottish-German astronomer Johann von Lamont (John Lamont) was born.

He calculated the orbits of moons of Uranus and Saturn, but his most important work was on the Earth's magnetism.


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On this day in 1904 – December 13th – Irish theoretical physicist Sir William Hunter McCrea was born.

He made contributions to mathematics, physics and almost every area of astronomy, but is best known for his seminal work in modern relativistic cosmology. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Irish Academy, and was awarded many other honors.


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On this day in 1546 – December 14th – Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was born.

Tycho was the greatest ever observer in the days before the telescope. His extensive collection of accurate observations made it possible for Kepler to work out the orbits of the planets.


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On this day in 1970 – December 15th – Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to land on Venus.


The Soviet probe survived for 53 minutes, 20 of them on the surface.




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