On this day in 1797 - January 4th - German astronomer Wilhelm Beer was born.
Beer was an amateur astronomer, who with Johannes Heinrich MÃ¤dler, published the first map of the Moon (Mappa Salenographica). They also made a map of Mars and calculated the planet's rotation period to within 0.1 second of today's figure.
On this day in 2005 - January 5th - Mike Brown's team at Palomar Observatory discovered Eris
The discovery of this distant object that originally appeared to be bigger than Pluto ignited the debate about the definition of a planet. For a time, NASA referred to Eris as the "10th planet", but in the end, both Eris and Pluto became dwarf planets.
On this day in 1892 - January 5th - the first successful photograph was taken of an aurora.
Early cameras couldn't catch the dim light of an aurora, and long exposures didn't capture the movement. German physicist Martin Brendel and a fellow scientist, on an expedition in northern Norway, took the first successful image, and revolutionized the study of the northern lights.
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