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On this day in 1928 – March 25th – Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lovell flew on Gemini 7 and Gemini 12. As a member of the crew of Apollo 8, he was one of the first three humans to orbit the Apollo 8, and Apollo 13. As the commander of Apollo 13, he was part of one of the most dramatic missions in NASA history.

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On this day in 1773 – March 26th – self-educated American mathematician and astronomer, Nathaniel Bowditch, was born in Salem, Massachusetts.

His greatest contribution to science was his translation of Laplace’s five-volume Mécanique Céleste [Celestial Mechanics]. It earned him an international reputation and was of great importance in the development of astronomy in the United States.

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On this day in 1802 – March 28th – Heinrich Olbers, German physician and astronomer, discovered Pallas.

Pallas was the second asteroid to be discovered. It was counted as a planet at the time, as Ceres had been.

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On this day in 1807 – March 29th – Heinrich Olbers, German physician and astronomer, discovered Vesta.

Olbers discovered Vesta almost exactly five years to the day after his discovery of Pallas. Vesta was the third asteroid to be discovered, and it was also counted as a planet at the time. Like Ceres, it's been visited by NASA's Dawn mission.

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On this day in 1879 – March 30th – the German lens maker Bernhard Woldemar Schmidt was born near Tallinn in Estonia.

His name lives on in the Schmidt telescopes. He invented a telescope mirror that let astronomers get sharp wide-field images of the sky with a single exposure. They are still widely used. The best known one is probably the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory, completed in 1948.

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On this day in 1596 – March 31st – René Descartes was born at La Haye, Touraine, France.

The French philosopher-mathematician was a key figure in the development of 17th century cosmology.

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On this day in 2005 – March 31st – the dwarf planet Makemake was discovered by Michael E. Brown, Chadwick A. Trujillo and David L. Rabinowitz.

Makemake gets its name from a creator deity in the mythology of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island.

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On this day in 1990 – April 1st – the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was installed in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery for the STS-31 mission, ready for launch.

Discovery launched on April 24th from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

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On this day in 1997 – April 1st – Comet Hale-Bopp made its closest approach to the Sun.

The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997 and was probably the most widely observed comet of the 20th century.

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On this day in 1867 – April 3rd – German astronomer Wilhelm Tempel, observing in Marseilles, discovered Comet 9P/Tempel 1.

in 2005 the comet was the target of NASA's Deep Impact probe.

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