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1679
Died, Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (at Naples, Italy), mathematician and astronomer
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Alfonso_Borelli

1719
Died, John Flamsteed, astronomer (first Astronomer Royal of England)

John Flamsteed (19 August 1646 - 31 December 1719) was the first Astronomer Royal of England. Among other things, he accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He also observed Uranus on 23 December 1690, without realizing it was an undiscovered planet, mistaking it for a star which he classified as 34 Tauri.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Flamsteed

1864
Born, Robert G. Aitken, US astronomer (New General Catalogue of Double Stars), Bruce Medal 1926
http://www.phys-astro.sonoma.edu/brucemedalists/aitken/

1870
J. D. Schneiter applied for a patent for rocket mail in France, which has yet to be implemented on a regular basis. (2016)
http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/23/style/stamps-when-the-speed-of-rockets-delivered-the-mail.html

1879
Thomas Edison demonstrated incandescent lighting to the public for the first time in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/gilded/jb_gilded_edison_1.html

1896
A Charlois discovered asteroid #424 Gratia.

1905
J Palisa discovered asteroid #583 Klotilde.

1931
Born, Robert "Bob" Shaw, UK science fiction author (Orbitsville, Ragged Astronauts, Vertigo)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Shaw

1931
K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1208 Troilus.

1948
Born, Viktor Mikhailovich Afanasyev (at Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast, Russian SFSR), Russian cosmonaut (MIR 8, MIR 15, MIR 27, Soyuz TM-33/Soyuz TM-32, 555.75 total days in space)
http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/cosmonauts/english/afanasiyev_viktor.htm

1951
The first battery to convert radioactivity to electrical energy was announced.
http://www.radjournal.com/articles/History/2007/December.htm

1953
Died, Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer, founder and director of KLM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Plesman

1958
The International Geophysical Year (IGY), the impetus behind the launch of Sputnik, ended after 18 months.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Geophysical_Year

1973
Died, Josef Maria Boehm, German guided missile expert in World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, Head of Electromechanical Engineering Branch, Guidance and Control Division, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (1960)
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Maria_Boehm

1990
Died (alcohol poisoning, at Moscow, Russia), Vasili Lazarev, Soviet cosmonaut (Soyuz 12, Soyuz 18A (aborted))

Vasili Grigoryevich Lazarev (23 February 1928 - 31 December 1990) was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew on Soyuz 12 as well as the abortive Soyuz 18a launch. He was injured by the high acceleration of the abort and landing and was initially denied his spaceflight bonus pay, having to appeal directly to Brezhnev to receive it. Lazarev held a PhD in medicine and was a colonel in the Soviet Air Force. He remained in the space program until failing a physical in 1981.
http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/cosmonauts/english/lazarev_vasili.htm


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