This Day in History

October 17


539BC  Babylon falls to the forces of Cyrus   2557
1091      estimated F4 tornado touches down in London destroying a number of buildings but killing only 2—England's first recorded tornado   928
1346      Battle of Neville's Cross ends with a decisive English victory over the invading Scots and the capture of King David II of Scotland   673
1448      Second Battle of Kosovo begins—ends with a decisive Ottoman victory over Hungary and Wallachia forces led by John Hunyadi   571
1456      University of Greifswald in Greifswald, Germany, founded with the approval of the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope   563
1552      German Lutheran theologian, wrote the preface of Copernicus's book, Andreas Osiander dies, age 53   467
1610      Louis XIII is crowned King of France at age 9—will reign for 33 years   409
1660      nine of the regicides who signed the death warrant of Charles I are hanged, drawn, and quartered at Charing Cross   359
1739      Royal Charter granted by George II to Thomas Coram establishes London Foundling Hospital—world's first incorporated charity   280
1777      Battle of Saratoga—British General John Burgoyne surrenders his army to the revolutionary forces   242
1835      The Texas Rangers formally organized   184
1836      Russian portraitist Orest Adamovich Kiprensky dies in Rme, age 54   183
1849      Polish romantic composer Frédéric François Chopin dies in Paris, age 39   170
1860      first British Open Championship was played at the Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland   159
1887      German physicist Gustav Kirchhoff dies, age 63   132
1898      icebreaker Yermak launched at Newcastle upon Tyne—first modern icebreaker designed to ride up on and crush ice   121
1905      the October Manifesto issued by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in response to the 1905 revolution—precursor of first Russian constitution   114
1910      American abolitionist and poet Julia Ward Howe dies in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, age 91   109
1919      RCA Corporation founded as the Radio Corporation of America—ceased to exist after 67 years   100
1931      Al Capone convicted of tax evasion, sentenced to 11 years in prison   88
1933      Albert Einstein arrives in U.S. as a refugee from Nazi Germany   86
1941      U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kearny is hit by a torpedo from U-568 before the U.S. had entered the war but survives   78
1956      Queen Elizabeth II officially opens Calder Hall—world's first nuclear power plant to deliver commercial quantities of electrical power   63
1963      French mathematician Jacques Salomon Hadamard dies in Paris, age 97   56
1963      NASA announces the selection of its third astronaut group, 'The Fourteen'   56
1964      Prime Minister of Australia Robert Menzies formally inaugurates the artificial Lake Burley Griffin in the middle of the capital Canberra   55
1969      Bell Laboratories demonstrates the CCD (charge-coupled-device) it developed   50
1976      most penalized game in modern NFL history with 39 flags for 310 yards—Seahawks at Buccaneers   43
1989      6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake near San Francisco cancels third game of World Series   30
1998      English actress of theatre, film, and television Joan Bogle Hickson dies in Colchester, U.K., age 92   21
1999      Greek-American physicist Nicholas Constantine Metropolis dies in Los Alamos, New Mexico, age 84   20
2000      American football player and the first draft pick in the history of the 49ers in 1950 Leo Joseph Nomellini dies, age 76   19
2001      Israel's tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi is assassinated in a terrorist attack, age 75   18
2002      American competition swimmer and diver and Olympic champion (1920) Aileen Muriel Riggin (Aileen Soule) dies in Honolulu, age 96   17
2002      launch of ESA's International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL)   17
2005      Chinese writer Li Yaotang (Ba Jin) dies in Shanghai, age 100   14
2006      the population of the U.S. is estimated to have reached 300 million   13
2009      American author of books for children and young adults Norma Fox Mazer dies in Montpelier, Vermont, age 78   10
2009      American composer for television and movies Victor Mizzy dies in Bel Air, California, age 93   10
2012      American inventor and scientist Stanford Robert Ovshinsky dies, age 89   7
2012      ordinary chondrite meteorite hits the roof of a home in Novato, California—fragment from a larger body, no damage   7
2013      American producer and a founder of Filmation Louis 'Lou" Scheimer dies in Los Angeles, age 84   6
2015      French actress and film producer Gabrielle Danièle Marguerite Andrée Girard (Danièle Delorme) dies in Paris, age 89   4
2016      China launches Shenzhou 11 with two astronauts to dock with Tiangong 2 space lab for a 30-day mission   3
2016      Orbital ATK Antares launch vehicle return to flight after two years—Cygnus cargo craft to the International Space Station   3
2018      recreational use of cannabis becomes legal in Canada   1
2018      student opens fire and sets off an explosion in a technical school in Crimea—17 killed (including gunman) and 40 others injured   1
2018      ringing of the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is performed by a robot, Universal Robots' UR5e   1

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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