This Day in History

August 24


49BC  Caesarian forces are decisively defeated by the Numidains in the Battle of the Bagrades River in North Africa   2067
79      Mt. Vesuvius erupts, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum in southern Italy   1940
410      Alaric leads the Visigoths to sack Rome   1609
1185      Byzantine city of Thessalonica is sacked and many citizens killed after a short seige by invading Normans from the Kingdom of Sicily   834
1215      Pope Innocent III declares Magna Carta invalid only about two months after it was signed   804
1572      St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Huguenots in Paris   447
1595      English astronomer Thomas Digges dies in London, age 49   424
1647      English sculptor and architect Nicholas Stone dies in London, age about 0   372
1664      accomplished Silesian astronomer Maria Cunitz dies, age about 54   355
1812      combined Spanish, British, and Portuguese forces lift the two and a half year seige of Cádiz by the French Empire   207
1814      occupying British forces set fire to many public buildings in Washington D.C. including the White House   205
1824      Lachine Canal across the southwestern part of the Island of Montreal is completed opening the upper St Lawrence River to navigation   195
1832      French physicist Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot dies in Paris, age 36   187
1841      one of the most successful U.S. privateers during the War 1812 against the British John Ordronaux dies, age 62   178
1856      Henry Bessemer first describes the process he developed for producing steel in a meeting of the British Association   163
1888      one of the central founders of thermodynamics, German physicist Rudolf Clausius dies, age 66   131
1901      nurse Clara Maass dies, age 25, after volunteering to be bitten by yellow fever infected mosquitos   118
1909      building the Pananma Canal locks begins with the first concrete poured at Gatun   110
1912      Territory of Alaska is formed—exists until statehood in 1959   107
1914      Battle of Cer—Serb victory over the invading Austro-Hungarians is the first Allied victory over the Central Powers in the Great War   105
1942      last successful cavalry charge—Italian forces mount a charge against a Soviet artillery position along the River Don   77
1968      France tests its first thermonuclear device at Fangataufa Atoll—yields 2.6 megatons   51
1979      German record setting aviator and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class Hanna Reitsch dies in Frankfort, age 67   40
1989      Pete Rose is banned for life from baseball for gambling   30
1991      Ukraine declares itself an independent state   28
1995      German-American photographer and photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt dies on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, age 96   24
1995      Microsoft releases Windows 95   24
1998      American actor E. G. Marshall (born Everett Eugene Grunz) dies in Bedford, New York, age 84   21
1998      British scientist Kevin Warwick is the first RFID human implantation   21
2000      Swiss karateka and heavyweight kickboxer Andreas "Andy" Hug dies in Tokyo, age 35   19
2001      American film and television actress Jane Greer (born Bettejane Greer) dies in Los Angeles, age 76   18
2003      Ethiopian-born English explorer and travel writer Wilfred Patrick Thesiger dies, in London, age 93   16
2004      Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross dies, age 78   15
2004      suicide bombs explode on two passenger flights taking off from Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow—all 90 on board killed   15
2006      IAU votes to reclassify Pluto—no longer a planet   13
2010      Japanese film director, animator, screenwriter, and manga artist Satoshi Kon dies in Tokyo, age 46   9
2010      San Fernando massacre—72 illegal immigrants are killed by Los Zetas drug cartel in the village of El Huizachal, Mexico   9
2013      American stage, screen, and television actress Julia Ann Harris (Julie Harris) dies in West Chatham, Massachusetts, age 87   6
2014      English actor, film director, and producer Richard Samuel Attenborough dies in Cambridge, UK, age 90   5
2014      6.0 earthquake strikes near Napa, California   5
2015      Facebook logs one billion users in a single day for the first time   4
2016      6.2 earthquake devastates Amatrice in central Italy—290 dead   3
2016      Jeff Williams reaches 521 days in space breaking the total record set by Scott Kelly for an American astronaut   3
2016      discovery of Proxima Centauri b announced confirmed—closest known exoplanet at 4.2 light-years   3
2017      American actor, comedian, and morning radio personality Jay Thomas (born Jon Thomas Terrell) dies in Santa Barbara, California, age 69   2
2017      FORMOSAT-5, first National Space Organization (NSPO) of Taiwan indigenously developed remote sensing satellite, launched   2
2017      Powerball lottery produces a single winner—$758 million is largest individual payout in history   2

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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