This Day In History : August 17

1887 United States

American astronomer Asaph Hall discovers Mars' moon Phobos

On August 17, 1877, American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the Martian moon Phobos at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. This discovery marked a significant milestone in planetary astronomy, as Phobos became the first of Mars' two moons to be identified and observed by scientists.

Also on This Day in History August 17

Discover what happened on August 17 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, August 17
  • 1893 Walter Noddack

    Walter Karl Friedrich Noddack was a German chemist who discovered the element rhenium (Jun 1925) in collaboration with his wife Ida Tacke.

  • 2024 Paul Kammerer

    Austrian biologist, he claimed to have produced experimental evidence that acquired traits could be inherited.

  • 1870 Frederick Fuller Russell

    American scientist who developed the first successful U.S. typhoid fever vaccine.

  • 1699 Bernard de Jussieu

    French botanist whose method of plant classification was based on anatomical characteristics of the plant embryo.

  • 1798 Thomas Hodgkin

    English physician and philanthropist who early described (1832) the malignant disease of lymph tissue that bears his name as Hodgkin's disease.

Deaths on This Day, August 17
  • 2011 William K. Estes

    William Kaye Estes was an American psychologist who was a leader in bringing mathematical methods into psychological research.

  • 2000 Robert Rowe Gilruth

    American aerospace scientist, engineer, and a pioneer of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs.

  • 1966 Henry Joseph Round

    English electronics engineer whose numerous inventions contributed to the development of radio communications.

  • 1927 Ivar Fredholm

    Erik Ivar Fredholm was a Swedish mathematician who is remembered for Fredholm integral equations with applications in mathematical physics and actuarial science.

  • 1809 Matthew Boulton

    British manufacturer and engineer who financed and introduced James Watt's steam engine.


Pike Place Market, opens in Seattle Washington

Pike Place Market is a public market in Seattle, Washington, United States. It opened on August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the United States.

1st air mail (in a balloon) took off from Lafayette, Indiana

On August 17, 1859, John Wise, an American balloonist, made history by conducting the first official United States air mail flight. The flight took off from Lafayette, Indiana, and while it wasn't entirely successful in delivering mail due to unforeseen circumstances, it marked a significant milestone in the early history of aviation and air mail transportation.

Indonesia gains independence from Netherlands

Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands on August 17, 1945. This marked the culmination of a long struggle for independence against Dutch colonial rule, which had begun earlier in the 20th century. The proclamation of independence by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta was a pivotal moment in Indonesian history, leading to a subsequent struggle for recognition and independence.

Gabon gains independence from France

Gabon gained independence from France on August 17, 1960. This day is celebrated annually as Gabon's National Day, marking the end of French colonial rule and the establishment of an independent Gabonese state.
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