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On this day in 1597 – April 13th – Giovanni Battista Hodierna was born in Ragusa, Sicily.

Hodierna was an astronomer at the court of the Duke of Montechiaro in Piedmont, Italy. Pre-dating Charles Messier by over a century, he compiled a sky catalog that included a number of nebulous objects that might be confused with comets.


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On this day in 1629 – April 14th – Dutch scientist, mathematician and inventor, Christiaan Huygens, was born in The Hague.

Huygens was a prominent scientist in his day. His varied contributions included the invention of the pendulum clock, and the discovery of Saturn's moon Titan. ESA (European Space Agency) named its Titan lander after him.


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On this day in 1868 – April 14th – Irish astronomer and mathematician Annie Scott Dill Maunder (née Russell) was born in Strabane, County Tyrone.

She worked at Greenwich Observatory, but had to give up her job when she married her colleague Edward Maunder. However they made a formidable team, going on solar eclipse expeditions together and collaborating on publications.


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On this day in 1972 – April 16th – Apollo 16 was launched.

It was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke, and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly.


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On this day in 1598 – April 17th – Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli was born in Ferrara.

Riccioli's best known for his Almagestum Novum published in 1651. It included his Moon map and over 1500 folio pages densely packed with text, tables and illustrations. The work became a standard technical reference book for astronomers all over Europe and included the names of prominent lunar features still in use today.


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On this day in 2014 – April 18th – NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) was intentionally crashed into the Moon at end of its mission.

LADEE, orbiting the Moon's equator, studied the lunar exosphere and dust in the Moon's vicinity. It was crashed on the far side of the Moon to ensure that it didn't damage historically important landing sites on the near side.


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On this day in 1971 – April 19th – Salyut 1 was launched by the Soviet Union.

It was the first ever manned space station.


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On this day in 2021 – April 19th – NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity lifted into the Martian sky for the first time.

It was the first time ever an aircraft flew on a world beyond Earth.


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On this day in 1967 – April 20th – NASA's Surveyor 3 unmanned probe landed on the Moon.

In November 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean would land near the probe and remove some parts to return them to Earth.


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On this day in 1724 – April 22nd – the German philosopher Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg [now Kaliningrad, Russia].

His theoretical work in astronomy and cosmology anticipated and inspired later discoveries about our Galaxy and others, including the idea that the Solar System was a part of a system of stars constituting a lens-shaped galaxy, and that there were many other galaxies scattered throughout and making up the whole Universe.


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