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On this day in 1780 – December 26th – Mary Somerville was born in Jedburgh, Scotland.

Somerville was one of the leading lights of 19th century science, writing explanatory works on developments in astronomy, physics and geography. She was honored by several learned societies.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1571 – December 27th – Johannes Kepler was born near Stuttgart in what is now Germany.

Using Tycho Brahe's data, Kepler formulated his three laws which described the orbits of the planets mathematically. This only worked if the Sun - not the Earth - was at the center of the Solar System.




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On this day in 1882 – December 28th – English astrophysicist Arthur Eddington was born.

Eddington was one of the most eminent scientists of his day, and was made famous by testing Einstein's theory of general relativity during a total solar eclipse.


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On this day in 2005 – December 28th – GIOVE-A, the first Galileo satnav system satellite, was launched.

Galileo is Europe's global navigation satellite system, developed under a partnership between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC).


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On this day in 1888 – December 29th – pioneering Welsh astrophotographer Isaac Roberts took the first detailed picture of another galaxy, the Great Nebula in Andromeda.

Roberts went on to systematically photograph the brightest nebulae and star clusters visible from England, and received international recognition for his work.


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On this day in 1864 – December 31st – Robert Grant Aitken was born.

Aitken was an American astronomer of international repute. He was best known for his systematic study of double stars, and served for ten years as chair of the double star committee of the International Astronomical Union.


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