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Halley's Comet passed perihelion in its fifteenth known passage, as determined from records by Chinese astronomers.

In 2000 years of observations since 240 BCE, Chinese records have never missed a return of Halley's Comet. From those records, Cowell and Crommelin computed the dates of perihelion passage as:

 1. 15 May 240 BCE
 2. 20 May 163 BCE
 3. 15 August 87 BCE
 4. 8 October 12 BCE
 5. 26 January 66 CE
 6. 25 March 141 CE
 7. 6 April 218 CE
 8. 7 April 295 CE
 9. 13 February 374 CE
10. 3 July 451 CE
11. 15 November 530 CE
12. 26 March 607 CE
13. 26 November 684 CE
14. 10 June 760 CE
15. 25 February 837 CE
16. 17 July 912 CE
17. 2 September 989 CE
18. 25 March 1066 CE
19. 19 April 1145 CE
20. 10 September 1222 CE
21. 22.7 October 1301 CE
22. 8.8 November 1378 CE
23. 8.2 January 1456 CE
24. 25.8 August 1531 CE
25. 26.9 October 1607 CE
26. 14.8 September 1682 CE
27. 12.6 March 1758 CE
28. 15.9 November 1835 CE
29. 19.7 April 1910 CE
30. 9 February 1986 CE

Note that the precision of the dates from passage 21 onward could be computed with increased accuracy because of additional observations. However, at the time of their computation, the 1986 passage was still a future event. (The actual date was found from other sources.)

On 19 April 607, Comet 1P/607 H1 (Halley) approached within 0.0898 AU (13.5 million km, 8.4 million miles) of Earth. On 374-April-1.9, it had approached closer, having come within 0.0884 AU (13.2 million km, 8.2 million miles), and on 837-April-10.5, it became the third closest approach in history prior to 1900, passing within 0.0334 AU (5 million km, 3.1 million miles).

On 16 October 1982, astronomers David Jewitt and G. Edward Danielson using a CCD camera with the 5.1 m Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar Observatory were the first to detect Halley's Comet on its thirtieth recorded return.

See also The past orbit of Halley's Comet (SAO/NASA ADS)

See also Comet Close Approaches prior to 1900 (CNEOS)

See also History of Halley's Comet (Wikipedia)

See also Halley's Comet (CQ Press)

See also Comet 1P/Halley (Halley's Comet) (Smithsonian NASM)
ref: adsabs.harvard.edu

Died, Christopher Wren, English astronomer, architect, one of the founding members of the Royal Society
ref: en.wikipedia.org

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #265 Anna.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #324 Bamberga.

F. Kaiser discovered asteroid #743 Eugenisis.

J. Palisa discovered asteroid #867 Kovacia; and M. Wolf discovered asteroid #866 Fatme.

Died, Friedrich Paschen, German physicist (electrical discharges, infrared hydrogen spectral lines)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

NASA's director of flight test, Paul Bikle, set a world glider altitude record flying a Schweizer 1-23E sailplane. The new record of 46,267 feet (8.7627 mi, 14.102 km) stood for twenty-five years.
ref: www.nasa.gov

L. Chernykh discovered asteroid #2279 Barto.

USSR's Luna 20 returned from the Moon with samples.
USSR Luna 20 capsule where it had landed returning from the Moon Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog luna-20_ret.jpg
USSR Luna 20 capsule where it had landed returning from the Moon
Source: NSSDCA Master Catalog

Luna 20 was placed in an intermediate Earth parking orbit from its launch on 14 February 1972, and from that orbit was sent towards the Moon where it entered orbit on 18 February 1972. On 21 February 1972, Luna 20 made a soft landing in the Apollonius highlands near Mare Foecunditatis (Sea of Fertility), 120 km from where Luna 16 had impacted. While on the Lunar surface, the panoramic television system was operated, and Lunar samples were obtained using an extendable drilling apparatus. Luna 20's ascent stage of was launched from the Lunar surface on 22 February 1972 carrying 30 grams of collected Lunar samples in a sealed capsule. It landed in the Soviet Union on 25 February 1972; the Lunar samples were recovered the following day.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

NASA's SOLRAD 9 ran out of attitude control fuel and was turned off, since it had become operationally useless.

SOLRAD 9, launched 5 March 1968, was an NRL satellite, one of the SOLRAD series that began in 1960 to provide continuous coverage of solar radiation with a set of standard photometers. SOLRAD 9 was a spin-stabilized satellite oriented with its spin axis perpendicular to the sun-satellite line, so that the 14 solar X-ray and UV photometers pointing radially outward from its equatorial belt viewed the sun with each revolution. Data were simultaneously transmitted via FM/AM telemetry and recorded in a core memory that read out its contents on command. Individual scientists and institutions were invited to receive and use the data transmitted on the 136-MHz telemetry band on the standard IRIG channels 3 through 8. For the period July 1971 to June 1973, the core memory data of SOLRAD 10 were used rather than those from SOLRAD 9. The SOLRAD 10 core memory failed 11 June 1973, and SOLRAD 9 was heavily used until 25 February 1974, when the gas supply of the attitude control system was exhausted. Lacking attitude control, SOLRAD 9 was operationally useless and was turned off.

For more details, see R. W. Kreplin and D. M. Horan, "The NRL SOLRAD 9 Satellite Solar Explorer B 1968-17A," NRL Report 6800, 1969.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1977 09:38:00 GMT
USSR's Soyuz 24 landed after docking at the Salyut 5 space station.

Soyuz 24 was launched 7 February 1977 to dock with the Salyut 5 space station. The main objective was to investigate the atmosphere on the station to see if it was toxic and had an effect on the crew of the Soyuz 21 contributing to the problems they had at the end of their flight: The crew of Soyuz 21 had experienced psychological and physical problems during their stay on the station, thought to be mainly due to their becoming emotional, not following physical training, and developing an unreasonable desire to return to Earth. However, there was also speculation that some fuel had leaked into the living areas. This prompted the Soviets to design equipment that could be used to completely change the air of the station by releasing compressed air to create a breeze and venting the contaminated atmosphere through the airlock. The Soyuz 24 cosmonauts entered the station wearing breathing masks because of the possible contamination, but they found that the station atmosphere free of any toxins. It was decided to perform the venting experiment anyway to prove it was possible in case of any need in the future. Air was released from the forward end of the station while simultaneously being replaced from storage tanks in the Soyuz 24 orbital module.

The main purpose of the mission appears to have been to tie up loose ends left by the precipitous departure of the Soyuz 21 crew. They loaded the Salyut 5 Earth-return capsule with samples and film, which detached the day after their departure from the station, and was recovered 26 February 1977. The Soyuz 24 crew also conducted Earth observation and materials sciences experiments, but their planned EVA was cancelled because of the venting exercise.

Soyuz 24 was short by space station standards, less than 18 total days, with its landing on 25 February 1977 36 km northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. The Soviets said, however, that it was a busy and successful mission, accomplishing nearly as much as the earlier Soyuz 21's 50 day mission.

The Soyuz 24 flight crew was cosmonauts Viktor Gorbatko and Yuri Glazkov.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1979 11:54:00 GMT
USSR Soyuz 32 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying cosmonauts V. A. Lyakhov and V. V. Ryumin to the Salyut 6 space station.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

H. Debehogne discovered asteroid #3389.

Died, Philip Jose Farmer, American science fiction writer
ref: en.wikipedia.org

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