In 1655 Titan, Saturn’s largest moon was discovered by Christiaan Huygens, while in 1979 the first fully functional Space Shuttle, Columbia was delivered to the JFK Space Center to be prepared to launch. This was also the date of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (1911)in New York City, which because of improper and unsafe working conditions (like locked outside doors) killed 146 garment workers. And the occasion of a coal mine explosion in Centralia, Illinois in 1947 claimed 111 lives.

In 1811 poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing his pamphlet – The Necessity of Atheism. In 1821 the Greek War for Independence from the Ottoman Empire began. And in a sign that book banning wasn’t something new in 1957 the US Customs seized copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” on charges of obscenity.

Four musicians entered the world stage on this date: Italian-American cellist and conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867), Hungarian pianist and composer (1881), R&B star Aretha Franklin (1942), and British rocker Elton John (1947).

English director, producer, and screenwriter David Lean (1908) began to dream of epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. American broadcaster of Monday Night Football and boxing matches Howard Cosell (1918) began to vocalize on this date. Jim Lovell, who successfully captained Apollo 13 back to Earth but missed walking on the moon, began his attempts to walk on Earth in 1928. And African American figure skater Debi Thomas started her rise to fame in 1967.

The music stopped for French composer Claude Debussy in 1918. This date also marked the passing of the co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet – Robert Joffrey(1988), one of the founders of the NAACP -Ida B Wells (1931), country singer and guitarist Buck Owens (2006), and one-half of the Seals and Crofts musical duo – Dan Seals (2009)

And for all you LOTR fans this is Tolkien Reading Day, so break out your copy of the Silmarillion, or the Trilogy and cozy up in the corner for a while.