1935: On 23 November 1935, Vladislav Nikolayevich Volkov was born.
Volkov was a Soviet cosmonaut who flew as flight engineer on the Soyuz 7 (1969) and Soyuz 11 (1971) missions. Soyuz 11 had accomplished the first space station flight, two years before the US Skylab, and docked with the Salyut 1 scientific station.
The planned 30-day stay was aborted due to a small fire and difficult working conditions. On 29 June 1971, Volkov died with the rest of the Soyuz 11 crew during re-entry, due to a premature cabin decompression. The crew had no space suits to protect themselves.
1864: On 23 November 1864, Friedich Georg Wilhelm von Struve died.
Von Struve was a German-Russian astronomer. Born 15 April 1793, Von Struve was the first in a line of four generations of distinguished astronomers. He founded the modern study of binary (double) stars. In 1817, he became director of the Dorpat Observatory, where he made a massive survey of binary stars from the north celestial pole to 15° South.
He measured 3112 binaries, discovering over 2000, and catalogued his results in Stellarum Duplicium Mensurae Micrometricae in 1837. In 1835, Czar Nicholas I persuaded Struve to set up a new observatory at Pulkovo, near St Petersburg.
1826: On 23 November 1826, Johann Elert Bode died.
Bode was a German astronomer, best known for his popularisation of ‘Bode's law’. In 1766, his colleague Johann Titius had discovered a curious mathematical relationship in the distances of the planets from the Sun. Also known as the Titius-Bode law, the idea fell into disrepute after the discovery of Neptune, which does not conform with the 'law' - nor does Pluto.
Bode was director at the Berlin Observatory, where he published Uranographia in 1801, one of the first successful attempts at mapping all stars visible to the naked eye without any artistic interpretation of the stellar constellation figures. He was born on 19 January 1747.
1221: On 23 November 1221, Alfonso X of Castile was born.
Alfonso was a Spanish monarch and astronomer who encouraged the preparation of revised planetary tables, published in 1252 on the day of his accession to the throne as king of Castile and León. These ‘Alfonsine Tables’, a revision and improvement of the Ptolemaic tables, were the best available during the Middle Ages; they were not replaced by better ones for over three centuries.
The astronomical data tabulating the positions and movements of the planets were compiled by about 50 astronomers Alfsonso had assembled for the purpose. He died on 4 April 1284.