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On this day in 1682 - May 1st - the Paris Observatory was inaugurated by Louis XIV.

It's one of the oldest (and the oldest still active) astronomical centres in the world.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1996 - May 1st - Comet Hyakutake made its closest approach to Sun.

It's known as The Great Comet of 1996. its passage near the Earth was one of the closest cometary approaches of the previous 200 years.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1989 - May 4th - the Magellan spacecraft was released by Space Shuttle mission STS-30 Atlantis, the first interplanetary mission to be so launched.

The spacecraft, often referred to as the Venus Radar Mapper, successfully mapped the surface of Venus using synthetic aperture radar which is able to penetrate the planet's thick clouds.


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On this day in 2002 - May 4th - NASA launched the Aqua scientific research satellite.

It was the second major component of the Earth Observing System (EOS), and was designed to study the precipitations, evaporation and cycling of water.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1961 - May 5th - Alan Shepard became the first American in space, making a suborbital flight in Freedom 7.

Ten years later Shepard walked on the Moon as the commander of Apollo 11.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 2003 - May 9th - the Japanese mission Hayabusa ("peregrine falcon") was launched.

Hayabusa was the first mission to return a sample of material from an asteroid.


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On this day in 1900 - May 9th - Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was born.

Cecilia Payne, in her PhD thesis, was the first to propose that stars stars were composed mainly of hydrogen and helium.


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On this day in 1915 - May 11th - Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was published.

Einstein's theory has often been tested and has passed every test - it's changed the way we viewed the cosmos.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 2009 - May 11th - space shuttle mission STS-125 was launched.

STS-125 was the fifth and final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1930 - May 12th - the Adler Planetarium opened in Chicago.

It was the first planetarium in the western hemisphere.


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