Today In History Spotlights Dec. 13, 1972, Apollo 17 Moon Landing

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Today’s History Spotlight


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Last human landing on the Moon. Apollo 17 was the last mission of the United States’ Apollo lunar landing program. It was also the sixth and the last time humans landed on the Moon. Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt walked on the Moon, while Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans orbited above.

Schmitt was the only professional geologist to land on the Moon, selected in place of Joe Engle with NASA under pressure to send a scientist to the Moon. The mission’s heavy emphasis on science meant the inclusion of a number of new experiments, including a biological experiment containing five mice carried in the command module.

What Happened On This Day – December 13

  • 2003 Saddam Hussein Captured. Saddam Hussein, the fifth president of Iraq, was found hiding in a camouflaged hole in the ground and was captured by American forces near Tikrit, Iraq. The military operation that led to his capture was called Operation Red Dawn. He was subsequently handed over to the interim Iraqi government. After a trial where he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, he was executed 3 years after his capture in December 2006.
  • 2001 Attack on Indian parliament. The Indian parliament, the Sansad, was attacked by terrorists. 15 people, including the terrorists were killed during the attack.
  • 1795 Meteorite crashes into Wold Newton in Yorkshire, England. Major Edward Topham owned the land where the meteorite crashed. He exhibited it later, and today it is in the Natural History Museum in London.
  • 1642 First European to Reach New Zealand. Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer and merchant, reached the coast of South Island in New Zealand, and named it Staten Landt. Tasman was also the first European in recorded history to step foot on Tasmania, an island state in Australia. Tasman claimed the island for the Dutch crown. It is named after him as well.

Births On This Day – December 13

  • 1989 Taylor Swift – American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actress
  • 1948 Ted Nugent – American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor
  • 1936 Aga Khan IV – Swiss/French 49th Nizari Ismaili Imam
  • 1902 Talcott Parsons – American sociologist
  • 1818 Mary Todd Lincoln – American wife of Abraham Lincoln, 17th First Lady of the United States

Deaths On This Day – December 13

  • 2010 Richard Holbrooke – American journalist, banker, diplomat, 22nd United States Ambassador to the United Nations
  • 2005 Stanley Williams – American gang leader, co-founded the Crips
  • 1944 Wassily Kandinsky – Russian/French painter
  • 1784 Samuel Johnson – English author, lexicographer
  • 1204 Maimonides – Spanish rabbi, philosopher

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at TimeandDate.com and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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