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On this day in 1930 – February 18th – Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.

Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet for many years. It's now the largest known Kuiper Belt object, and is classified as a dwarf planet.


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On this day in 1473 – February 19th – Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland.

His work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) set out his arguments for a heliocentric (sun-centered) system instead of a geocentric (Earth-centered) system.


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On this day in 1986 – February 19th – Mir was launched by the Soviet Union.

Mir was the first modular space station, and was assembled in orbit. It was the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit. The failing station was deorbited in March 2001.


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On this day in 1965 – February 20th – John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Glenn's space capsule Friendship 7 took him around the Earth three times before its splashdown.


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On this day in 1965 – February 20th – NASA's Ranger 8 ended its mission by a crash landing on the Moon.

Ranger 8 was the first NASA spacecraft to take high resolution close-up images of the Moon's surface. Before its own mission ended, it transmitted over 7000 images, intended to help choose landing sites for Apollo missions.


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On this day in 1744 – February 21st – Dutch astronomer Eise Eisinga was born.

He built the Koninklijk Eise Eisinga Planetarium at his house in Franeker, Netherlands. The orrery still exists and is the oldest functioning planetarium in the world.


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On this day in 1978 – February 22nd – the first Navstar GPS satellite was launched.

What is now called the Global Positioning System (GPS) was originally called Navstar GPS.


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On this day in 1945 – February 23rd – Ukranian astronomer Svetlana Gerasimenko was born.

Gerasimenko's name is well known because she was the co-discoverer of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was the comet explored by the Rosetta mission . Both the Rosetta spacecraft and the lander Philae are on the comet as it continues to orbit the Sun.


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On this day in 1987 – February 23rd – the light from supernova SN 1987A reached Earth.

The supernova occurred in the Tarantula Nebula in our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud. It was the closest supernova seen in nearly four hundred years, visible to the unaided eye in the southern hemisphere. It has greatly increased our understanding of this spectacular phenomenon.


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On this day in 1990 – February 23rd – Pioneer 11 crossed the orbit of Neptune on its way out of the Solar System.

Although on that date the spacecraft went beyond the most distant planet, since there are dwarf planets and many other objects beyond Neptune, the spacecraft still hasn't left the Solar System. It's now nearly 128 times farther from the Sun than the Earth is.


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