. On this day in 1842 – December 8th – French astronomer Alphonse Louis Nicolas Borrelly was born in Roquemaure (Gard) in southern France.
At the Marseille Observatory, Borrelly discovered 18 asteroids and discovered or co-discovered at least six comets, including the periodic comet 19P/Borrelly. That comet was photographed by NASA's Deep Space 1 in September 2001. It rounds the Sun again next year on February 1.
. On this day in 1999 – December 10th – the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Newton X-Ray Multi-Mirror Telescope (XMM-Newton).
XMM-Newton, named after Sir Isaac Newton, investigates interstellar X-ray sources and performed the first simultaneous imaging of objects in both X-ray and optical (visible and ultraviolet) wavelengths. Although planned to be operational for 10 years, the telescope is still in operation.
. On this day in 1904 – December 13th – theoretical physicist Sir William Hunter McCrea was born in Dublin, Ireland.
McCrea made contributions to mathematics, physics and almost every area of astronomy, but is best known for his seminal work in modern relativistic cosmology. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Irish Academy, and was awarded many other honors.
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