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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, investigates interstellar X-ray sources, uses narrow- and broad-range spectroscopy, and performed the first simultaneous imaging of objects in both X-ray and optical (visible and ultraviolet) wavelengths. Although planned to be operational for 10 years, the telescope is still in operation.


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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, the Harvard College Observatory director.


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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 make a soft landing on another planet and transmit data.

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


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On this day in 1917 - December 16th - British author, futurist, inventor and explorer Arthur C. Clarke was born.

Clarke wrote more than 100 books, and he inspired 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 in 2018 they named a mountain on Pluto's moon Charon for him.



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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 1826 - December 16th - Italian astronomer Giovanni Donati was born.

Donati was the first to obtain and analyse the spectrum of a comet, as well as the discoverer of six new comets.



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