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On this day in 1714 – June 17th – French astronomer and cartographer Caesar-François Cassini de Thury was born in Thury-sous-Clermont in northern France.

He was the grandson of Jean Dominique Cassini - after whom the Cassini mission to Saturn was named - and the third Cassini to be the director of the Paris Observatory.


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On this day in 1800 – June 17th – William Parsons, Third Earl of Rosse, was born in York, England.

As well as being a skilled engineer and ingenious scientist, he was a dedicated astronomer who constructed a 72-inch (1.83 metre) diameter reflecting telescope at Birr Castle, Parsonstown in Ireland during the 1840s. Known as the Leviathan of Parsonstown, this huge telescope was larger than any made previously and the largest in the world for several decades, and enabled him to discover the spiral nature of many nebulae.


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On this day in 1799 – June 18th – English merchant and astronomer William Lassell was born.

Lassell was known for his improvements to the reflecting telescope and his discoveries, e.g., two of the moons of Neptune.


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On this day in 1983 – June 18th – physicist and astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.

Ride was a crew member of STS-7 Challenger which was launched 2 days after the 20th anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova's space flight.


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On this day in 2009 – June 18th – NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) were launched.

The LCROSS mission confirmed the presence of water in a shadowed crater on the Moon. LRO is still mapping the Moon.


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On this day in 1710 – June 21st – Scottish telescope maker and astronomer, James Short, was born in Edinburgh.

Short produced the first telescopes with nearly distortionless mirrors, and was the principal British collator and computer of the Transit of Venus observations. They were made around the world on 6 June 1761.


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On this day in 1667– June 21st – the meridian line of the Paris Observatory was engraved.

It was decided that the observatory should be built so that the Paris meridian passed through the center of the building, dividing it into two symmetrical parts. Built by order of King Louis XIV, the Paris Observatory was the first national observatory.


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On this day in 1675– June 24th – the Royal Observatory Greenwich was founded.

The Prime Meridian (0 degrees of longitude) goes through Greenwich.


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On this day in 1915 – June 24th – British mathematician, astronomer and author, Sir Fred Hoyle, was born.

Hoyle was the first to formulate a theory that explained the creation of chemical elements by nuclear fusion reactions in stars.


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On this day in 1999 – June 24th – NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) was launched.

Operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, for eight years it detected light in a part of the electromagnetic spectrum which is mostly unobservable by other telescopes.


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