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On this day in 1677 – February 18th – Jacques Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory.

He was the son of the director of the observatory Jean Dominique Cassini, with whom he made numerous astronomical observations. Eventually, he took over his father's duties as head of the Paris Observatory and continued the astronomical work.

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On this day in 1930 – February 18th – Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.

Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet for many years. It's now the largest known Kuiper Belt object, and is classified as a dwarf planet.

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On this day in 1473 – February 19th – Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland.

His work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) set out his arguments for a heliocentric (Sun-centered) solar system instead of a geocentric (Earth-centered) system

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On this day in 1965 – February 20th – John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Glenn's space capsule Friendship 7 took him around the Earth three times before its splashdown.

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On this day in 1744 – February 21st – Frisian astronomer Eise Eisinga was born in Dronrijp, Netherlands.

He built the Koninklijk Eise Eisinga Planetarium at his house in Franeker, Netherlands. The orrery still exists and is the oldest functioning planetarium in the world.

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On this day in 1778 – February 22nd – the first Navstar GPS satellite was launched.

Navstar GPS was what is now called the Global Positioning System (GPS).

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On this day in 1945 – February 22nd – Ukrainian astronomer Svetlana Gerasimenko was born in Baryshivka, Ukraine.

Gerasimenko's name is well known because she was the co-discoverer of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was the comet explored by the Rosetta mission. Both the Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae are on the comet as it continues to orbit the Sun.

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On this day in 1987 – February 23d – the light from supernova SN 1987A reached Earth.

The supernova occurred in the Tarantula Nebula in our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud. The closest supernova seen in nearly four hundred years, it was visible to the unaided eye in the southern hemisphere. It has greatly increased our understanding of this spectacular phenomenon.

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On this day in 1990 – February 23rd – Pioneer 11 crossed the orbit of Neptune on its way out of the Solar System.

On that date, the spacecraft went beyond the most distant planet. However, since there are dwarf planets and many other objects beyond Neptune, the spacecraft still hadn't left the Solar System. It's now over 135 times farther from the Sun than the Earth is.

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On this day in 1968 – February 24th – the discovery of the first pulsar was announced. However, it wasn't until later that astronomers understood what the object was and gave it a name.

We now know that the mystery objects are fast-rotating neutron stars that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. We can only detect one when it's pointing towards us, rather like a lighthouse, so it seems to pulse. A neutron star is the remnant of a massive star following the collapse of its core in a supernova explosion.

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