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On this day in 1894 – July 17th – Belgian priest, astronomer and physicist Georges Lemaître was born in Charleroi, Belgium.

Lemaître made the first definitive formulation of the idea of an expanding universe, and what was to become known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.


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On this day in 1850 – July 17th –John Adams Whipple took the first stellar photograph.

The photo was of the star Vega, taken at the Harvard College Observatory in the USA.


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Early photography - how cool.

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On this day in 1921 – July 18th –NASA astronaut John Glenn was born in Cambridge, Ohio.

Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. He had a distinguished military career before becoming an astronaut, and was a US senator afterwards. In 1998 he took part in a space shuttle mission, making him oldest person ever to go into space.


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On this day in 1846 – July 19th – Edward Pickering was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pickering was the director of Harvard College Observatory who hired women assistants (computers), and who modernized the observatory's work in astronomy by the use of photography.


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On this day in 1969 – July 20th – Apollo 11 astronauts became the first humans to set foot on another world.

Neil Armstrong, followed by Buzz Aldrin, stepped out of their lander and walked on the Moon, taking photographs, collecting rocks and setting up experiments.


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On this day in 1976– July 20th – NASA's Viking 1 became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission.

Part of its mission was a biology experiment whose purpose was to look for evidence of life.


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On this day in 1620 – July 21st – French astronomer Jean Picard was born.

Picard collaborated and corresponded with many fellow scientists, including Isaac Newton, Christiaan Huygens, Ole Rømer, and Giovanni Cassini, among others. He was a founding member of the French Academy of Sciences.


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On this day in 1784 – July 22nd – German astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Bessel was born.

Bessel was the first to publish a reliable value for the distance from the Sun to another star using parallax.


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On this day in 1928 – July 23rd – American astronomer Vera Rubin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rubin's pioneering work on galaxy rotation rates uncovered a discrepancy between the predictions and the observations. This was early evidence for the existence of dark matter.


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