On this day in 1942 - January 8th - English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was born.
For thirty years he was the Lucasian Professor at the University of Cambridge, a prestigious post once held by Isaac Newton. Hawking also wrote books on cosmology for the general public, the most famous of which was A Brief History of Time. He was most closely with his work on black holes.
On this day in 1587 - January 8th - Johannes Fabricius was born.
Fabricius was a German/Frisian astronomer, eldest son of David Fabricius who was also an astronomer. In their solar observing, they discovered sunspots about the same time as, and independently of, Galileo.
On this day in 1839 - January 9th - Thomas Henderson published his determination of the distance to Alpha Centauri.
Henderson had actually been the first person to calculate the distance to a fixed star by using stellar parallax. However he had delayed publishing his results, and the credit for being first went elsewhere.
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