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On this day in 1919 – August 12th – Anglo-American astronomer Margaret Burbidge (nee Peachey) was born in Cheshire, England.

She made notable contributions to the theory of quasars, to measurements of the rotation and masses of galaxies, an was the lead author on a groundbreaking paper describing how chemical elements are formed in the depths of stars through nuclear fusion. She was the first woman director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the first woman to be president of the American Astronomical Society.


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On this day in 1919 – August 12th – NASA's Parker Solar Probe (PSP) was launched.

Its mission is to observe and probe the Sun's outer corona. At closest approach, Parker Solar Probe will be hurtling around the Sun at approximately 430,000 miles per hour! That's fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., in one second.


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On this day in 1936 – August 17th – American software engineer Margaret Hamilton was born in Paoli, Indiana.

Hamilton was the lead developer for the Apollo flight software, and her rigorous systems approach was essential to its success.


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On this day in 1970 – August 17th – the Soviet probe Venera 7 was launched.

When it landed on the Venusian surface, it became the first spacecraft both to land on another planet and to transmit data from there back to Earth.


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On this day in 2006 – August 17th – Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to be 100 AU from the Earth.

It went on to become the first spacecraft to leave the heliosphere, the bubble that the solar wind makes in space.


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On this day in 1868 – August 18th – during a total solar eclipse, French astronomer Pierre Janssen observed an unknown line in the spectrum of the Sun, which turned out to be a new element, helium.

The same result was found independently by British astronomer Norman Lockyer, and both Janssen's and Lockyer's communications were presented to the French Academy of Sciences on October 26, 1868.


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On this day in 1877 – August 18th – American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered Phobos, a second moon of Mars.

Moons had long since been found for all the other planets beyond Earth, so Hall's discoveries were quite a sensation.


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On this day in 1646 – August 19th – English astronomer John Flamsteed was born in Denby, Derbyshire.

Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and his star atlas was the standard for a nearly a century.


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On this day in 1891 – August 19th – American astronomer Milton Humason was born in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

Humason's careful measurement of the radial velocities of several hundred galaxies underpinned the work of Edwin Hubble.


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On this day in 1982 – August 19th – Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to go into space.

Her flight on the Soyuz T-7 took place 19 years after that of the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.


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