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On this day in 1512 - March 5th - Gerardus Mercator was born.

Mercator was a German-Flemish cartographer, geographer and cosmographer. He created the 1569 world map based on a new projection that represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines - an innovation that is still employed in nautical charts.

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On this day in 1937 - March 6th - Valentina Tereshkova was born.

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. She was a Soviet cosmonaut who spent three days orbiting in Vostok 6.

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On this day in 1787 - March 6th - Joseph Fraunhofer was born.

Fraunhofer was a German optician who was known for the quality of his optical glass and excellent telescope objectives. His name is still known today for his discovery of the dark absorption lines - known as Fraunhofer lines - in the Sun's spectrum.

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On this day in 2015 - March 6th - NASA'S Dawn spacecraft went into orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.

Dawn had already orbited the asteroid Vesta before becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet.


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On this day in 1792 - March 7th - John Herschel was born.

Son of the discoverer of Uranus, John Herschel was one of the 19th century's most distinguished individuals. He was a brilliant mathematician, chemist and astronomer, as well as an accomplished artist, musician and linguist.

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On this day in 1837 - March 7th - Henry Draper was born.

Henry Draper was a pioneer of astrophotography. Following his early death, his wife Anna donated money to Harvard College Observatory to complete his catalogue of stellar spectra. If you see a deep sky object named with an "HD" prefix, it refers to this catalogue.

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On this day in 1831 - March 7th - King William IV signed a Royal Charter for the Astronomical Society of London, and it assumed the name Royal Astronomical Society.

William IV also agreed to be the Society's Patron; every subsequent British monarch has followed suit.

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On this day in 2009 - March 7th - NASA launched its planet-hunter Kepler.

During its two missions the space telescope found 2700 confirmed exoplanets and 3000 possibles for further investigation.

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On this day in 1979 - March 9th - astronomer Linda Morabito discovered evidence of volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io.

She found the picture of the first active volcano known outside Earth among the images sent back by Voyager 1.



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On this day in 1564 - March 9th - German pastor and amateur astronomer David Fabricius was born.

Along with his son Johannes, David Fabricius discovered Mira, the first known periodic variable star. They also made the first confirmed observations of sunspots.

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