Astro Anniversaries


Day Year Event
1 Mar 1870 Eugène Antoniadi born. Greek-French astronomer.
1 Mar 1927 George Abell born. Professor of astronomy at UCLA.
1 Mar 1966 Soviet space probe Venera 3 crashed on Venus, becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet’s surface.
2 Mar 1840 Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers died. German physician and astronomer.
2 Mar 1972 Pioneer 10 space probe launched from Cape Canaveral with a mission to explore the outer planets.
2 Mar 1978 Czech Vladimír Remek became the first non-Russian or non-American to go into space, when he was launched aboard Soyuz 28.
2 Mar 1998 Data sent from the Galileo spacecraft indicated that Jupiter’s moon Europa has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice.
3 Mar 1969 Apollo 9 launched. It carried out a full test of the lunar landing mission in Earth orbit. Astronauts McDivitt and Schweickart tested the lunar module, and rendezvoused and docked with the command and service modules piloted by Scott.
4 Mar 1675 John Flamsteed was appointed as the first Astronomer Royal.
4 Mar 1904 George Gamow born. American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was an early advocate and developer of Lemaître’s Big Bang theory.
4 Mar 1923 Patrick Moore born. Amateur astronomer and host of the BBC Sky at Night television programme.
4 Mar 1979 An image taken with the Voyager 1 spacecraft camera revealed the faint ring system of Jupiter for the first time.
4 Mar 2000 Hermann Brück died. German-born astronomer. German-Scottish physicist and astronomer. He was the 7th Astronomer Royal for Scotland (1957-75).
5 Mar 1827 Pierre-Simon Laplace born. French mathematician and astronomer.
6 Mar 1787 Joseph von Fraunhofer born. German physicist and astronomer.
7 Mar 1792 John Herschel born. English mathematician and astronomer.
7 Mar 1837 Henry Draper born. American physician and amateur astronomer.
7 Mar 2009 The space observatory Kepler was launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
8 Mar 1804 Alvan Clark born. American astronomer and telescope maker.
9 Mar 1889 William M Smart born.  Scottish astronomer. Author of many books on astronomy, including his classic Textbook on Spherical Astronomy.
10 Mar 1977 James Elliot, Ted Dunham and Jessica Mink discovered faint, dark rings around Uranus using instruments on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory.
11 Mar 1811 Urbain Le Verrier, born. French mathematician and astronomer.
12 Mar 1835 Simon Newcomb born. Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician.
13 Mar 1789 William Herschel observed Uranus, which he initially believed to be a comet, eventually leading to Uranus being identified as a planet.
13 Mar 1855 Percival Lowell born. American astronomer and mathematician.
14 Mar 1835 Giovanni Schiaparelli born. Italian astronomer and historian.
14 Mar 1879 Albert Einstein born. German-American physicist, engineer and academic. Nobel Prize laureate.
14 Mar 1928 Frank Borman born. American astronaut. Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon.
14 Mar 1934 Eugene Cernan born. American astronaut and currently the ‘last man on the Moon’.
14 Mar 1986 The European robotic spacecraft Giotto became the first satellite to observe a comet up close when it flew through – and photographed – Halley’s Comet.
14 Mar 2018 Stephen Hawking died. British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author.
15 Mar 1932 Alan Bean born. American astronaut on Apollo 12 and the Skylab space station.
16 Mar 1750 Caroline Herschel born. German-English astronomer.
16 Mar 1926 Using a mixture of gasoline and liquid oxygen, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuelled rocket.
16 Mar 1966 Gemini 8 was launched with astronauts Neil Armstrong and David Scott. Mission included the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit.
17 Mar 1846 Friedrich Bessel died. German astronomer, mathematician and physicist.
17 Mar 1930 James Irwin born. American astronaut. Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 15.
17 Mar 1936 Ken Mattingly born. American astronaut on Apollo 16.
18 Mar 2011 Messenger became the first spacecraft to orbit around the planet Mercury.
18 Mar 2020 Alfred Worden died. American astronaut. Command Module pilot for Apollo 15.
19 Mar 1799 William Dawes born. British astronomer. The Dawes Resolution for a telescope (in arcseconds) = 4.56 / Aperture (in inches) or 116 / Aperture (in mm).
20 Mar 1993 Robert Burnham Jr died. American astronomer.  Author of the classic three-volume Burnham’s Celestial Handbook.
23 Mar 1837 Richard A Proctor born.  Russian-born Soviet and American polymath, theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was an early advocate and developer of Lemaître’s Big Bang theory.
23 Mar 1840 William Draper took the first astronomical photograph. It was of the Moon, using a daguerreotype-process image exposed for 20 minutes.
23 Mar 1912 Wernher von Braun born. German-American aerospace engineer and space architect.
24 Mar 1893 Walter Baade born. German-born American astronomer who classified stars into two distinct population types (Population I and Population II), the Cepheid variables of which have distinct luminosity curves.
24 Mar 1993 Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, together with David Levy, discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 at the Palomar Observatory. The comet hit Jupiter the following year.
25 Mar 1655 Christiaan Huygens discovered Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
25 Mar 1951 Harold Ewen and Edward Purcell discovered the 21-cm radio radiation from cold hydrogen in our galaxy, using a horn antenna in the physics building at Harvard University in the USA.
25 Mar 2010 Ben Gascoigne died. New Zealand optical astronomer and expert in photometry.
29 Mar 1807 Heinrich Olbers discovered Vesta, the brightest and second most-massive asteroid.
29 Mar 1890 Harold Spencer Jones born.  An authority on positional astronomy, he became the 10th Astronomer Royal.
31 Mar 1727 Isaac Newton died.
31 Mar 1997 Lyman Spitzer died. American theoretical physicist and astronomer. The Spitzer Space Telescope (an infrared space telescope which operated 2003-2020) was named after him.

LAST UPDATED: 2023-02-26