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On this day in 1840 - March 23rd - American polymath John William Draper produced the first detailed photograph of the Moon.

It was the first astrophotograph taken in North America.

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On this day in 1893 - March 24th - German astronomer Walter Baade was born.

Baade, who worked at Mt Wilson Observatory in California for many years, defined two distinct populations of stars, and his discovery that there are two types of Cepheid variable star meant that his recalculation of the known universe doubled the size calculated by Hubble.

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On this day in 1665 - March 25th - Christiaan Huygens discovered Saturn's moon Titan.

The European Space Agency (ESA) Titan lander was named for Huygens, a prominent 17th century Dutch mathematician and scientist.

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On this day in 1972 - March 27th - the Soviet probe Venera 8 was launched.

Venera 8 made the first completely successful landing on Venus, and sent data from the surface for fifty minutes before succumbing to the intense pressure and searing temperature.

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On this day in 1802 - March 28th - Heinrich Olbers, German physician and astronomer, discovered Pallas.

Pallas was the second asteroid to be discovered, and it was counted as a planet at the time, as Ceres had been.

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On this day in 1807 - March 29th - Heinrich Olbers, German physician and astronomer, discovered Vesta.

Olbers discovered Vesta almost five years to the day after his discovery of Pallas. Vesta was the third asteroid to be discovered, and it was also counted as a planet at the time. Like Ceres, it's been visited by NASA's Dawn mission.

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On this day in 1974 - March 29th - NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft made what was the first ever flyby of Mercury.

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On this day in 1997 - March 31st - The Pioneer 10 mission officially ended.

NASA's Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to go through the asteroid belt and the first to fly by Jupiter. After the end of the mission, for a time there was still contact with the spacecraft to record telemetry as it headed out into the Kuiper Belt. It's currently about 126 AU from Earth.

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On this day in 1997 - April 1st - Comet Hale-Bopp made its closest approach to the Sun.

The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997 and was probably the most widely observed comet of the 20th century.

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On this day in 1845 - April 2nd - French physicists Leon Foucault and Louis Fizeau took the first successful photograph of the Sun.

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