This Day in History

June 20


451      Roman forces led by Flavius Aëtius halt the advance of the Huns led by Attila at the Battle of Châlons   1568
840      King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious dies, age around 62   1179
1248      University of Oxford is chartered—oldest English-speaking university from as early as 1096   771
1597      Dutch navigator, cartographer, and explorer Willem Barentsz dies at sea, age about 46   422
1622      Catholic League army defeats a Protestant army in the Battle of Höchat in today's Frankfort   397
1631      village of Baltimore, West Cork, Ireland, is attacked by the Ottoman Algeria slavers—107 villagers are captured as slaves   388
1668      German missionary and pioneering Sanskrit scholar Heinrich Roth dies in Agra, age 47   351
1756      large number of British prisoners of war are found dead after being held overnight in what is known as the 'Black Hole of Calcutta'   263
1782      Congress adopts the design of the Great Seal of the United States   237
1787      German composer Carl Friedrich Abel dies in London, age 53   232
1787      Oliver Ellsworth moves at the Federal Convention to call the government the 'United States'—the name had been used before unofficially   232
1800      German mathematician, epigrammatist, and teacher Abraham Gotthelf Kästner dies in Göttingen, age 80   219
1819      SS Savannah becomes first steamship to cross the Atlantic   200
1837      Victoria (age 18) ascends to the British throne on the death of William IV (dies age 71)   182
1840      Samuel Morse receives patent for the telegraph   179
1863      West Virginia is the 35th state to be admitted to the Union—only state formed from another seceding state   156
1877      world's first commercial telephone service installed in Hamilton, Ontario, by Alexander Graham Bell   142
1887      Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, India is opened as Victoria Terminus—serves as the headquarters of the Central Railways   132
1893      Lizzie Borden acquited of murdering her father and stepmother   126
1895      The Kiel Canal across the Jutland Peninsula is opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II   124
1895      Caroline W. Baldwin is awarded first Ph.D. in science to a woman—Cornell University   124
1943      start of Operation Bellicose, first shuttle bombing raid in World War II and first targeting V-2 production   76
1944      launch of German V-2, MW 18014, reaches height of 176 km—first man-made object to exceed the Kármán line and reach outer space   75
1948      The Ed Sullivan Show debuts on CBS as the Toast of the Town—runs until 1971   71
1963      Greek-Sephardic mathematician Raphaël Salem dies in Paris, age 64   56
1963      'Hot Line' established between Washington and Moscow   56
1965      groundbreaking for what would be named Scales Hall on the Southwestern Union College campus   54
1966      Belgian astrophysicist Georges Lemaître dies in Leuven, Belgium, age 71   53
1972      entrepreneur, businessman, and the founder of the American chain of Howard Johnson's Howard Deering Johnson dies, age 75   47
1973      inaugural Women's Cricket World Cup begins at the Kew Cricket Club in London   46
1975      Jaws is released—becomes the highest-grossing film of the time, prototypical summer blockbuster   44
1984      English actress Estelle Winwood (born Estelle Ruth Goodwin) dies in California, the oldest member of the Screen Actors Guild, age 101   35
1990      asteroid Eureka discovered at Palomar Observatory—first known Mars Trojan asteroid (at the L5 point)   29
1994      bomb explosion occurred at the shrine of Ali al-Ridha, Iran, in a crowded prayer hall—25 killed and over 200 others injured   25
1999      American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality Clifton Paul "Kip" Fadiman dies in FLorida, age 95   20
2001      French-Italian dramatic soprano Gina Cigna dies in Milan, age 101   18
2002      Austro-Hungarian biochemist who discovered basic DNA rules Erwin Chargaff dies in New York City, age 96   17
2003      Wikimedia Foundation founded in St. Petersburg, Florida   16
2005      American physicist, inventor, and Nobel laureate (2000) Jack St. Clair Kilby dies in Dallas, age 81   14
2008      joint NASA/CNES mission to study global ocean levels, Jason-2 launched   11
2010      British palaeontologist Harry Blackmore Whittington dies in Cambridge, UK, age 94   9
2012      American artist LeRoy Neiman dies in New York City, age 91   7
2012      American film critic Andrew Sarris dies in New York City, age 83   7
2013      expatriate Australian painter Frank Jeffrey Edson Smart dies in Tuscany, age 91   6
2015      Canadian-born American artist and pioneer of feminist art Miriam Schapiro dies, age 91   4
2016      China announces its Sunway TaihuLight with a theoretical peak performance of 124.5 petaflops—first system to exceed 100 petaflops.   3
2018      100 kg RemoveDebris spacecraft is deployed to test techniques—largest satellite released from the ISS   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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