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On this day in 1857 – December 16th – American astronomer E.E. Barnard was born.


Edward Emerson Barnard was noted for his excellence as an observational astronomer - Barnard's Star is named for him.


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On this day in 1857 – December 16th – British author Arthur C. Clarke was born.


Clarke wrote more than 100 books and he inspired the scientists and space explorers. In honor of his work, the International Astronomical Union named the distance of 36000 km above Earth the Clarke Orbit, and asteroid No. 4923 received the designation 'Clarke'.


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On this day in 1999 – December 18th – NASA launched the Terra satellite.

Terra was the flagship of the Earth Observation System, a multinational research program to study changes in the Earth and how they could affect life on our planet.


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On this day in 2013 – December 19th – the European Space Agency (ESA) launched its Gaia spacecraft.

Gaia is a space observatory which is measuring the positions and distances of stars with unprecedented accuracy. The mission aims to construct the largest and most precise 3D space catalog ever made.


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On this day in 1904 – December 20th – The Mount Wilson Solar Observatory was founded.

About fifteen years later, "solar" was dropped from the name as the 100-inch Hooker telescope came into use. Observing with it, Edwin Hubble found evidence that the Milky Way was just one galaxy in an expanding Universe.


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On this day in 1986 – December 21st – NASA launched Apollo 8 with its crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders.

The Apollo 8 Moon mission was the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit and go into orbit around another celestial object.


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On this day – December 21st – it's the December solstice from western Europe westward. This is the start of winter in the northern hemisphere and of summer in the southern hemisphere.

The Sun reaches its southernmost point on the celestial equator at 22.:23 UTC, so for most of the eastern hemisphere the solstice occurs on December 22nd.


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On this day in 1988 – December 21st – Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov returned to Earth after spending one year aboard Mir space station.


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On this day in 1672 – December 23rd – Jean-Dominique Cassini discovered Saturn's moon Rhea.


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On this day in 1968 – December 24th – Apollo 8 entered lunar orbit.

The crew were the first humans to view Earth as a whole planet, the first to orbit another world, and the first to see the far side of the Moon. This year is the 50th anniversary of their journey.





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