Year
1964

Ranger 7 photographs moon

Ranger 7, an unmanned U.S. lunar probe, takes the first close-up images of the moon—4,308 in total—before it impacts with the lunar surface northwest of the Sea of the Clouds. The images were 1,000 times as clear as anything ever seen through earth-bound telescopes.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had attempted a similar mission earlier in the year—Ranger 6—but the probe’s cameras had failed as it descended to the lunar surface. Ranger 7, launched from Earth on July 28, successfully activated its cameras 17 minutes, or 1,300 miles, before impact and began beaming the images back to NASA’s receiving station in California. The pictures showed that the lunar surface was not excessively dusty or otherwise treacherous to a potential spacecraft landing, thus lending encouragement to the NASA plan to send astronauts to the moon. In July 1969, two Americans walked on the moon in the first Apollo Program lunar landing mission.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Ignatius of Loyola dies

Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order of Roman Catholic missionaries and educators, dies in Rome. The Society of Jesus, as the Jesuit order is formally known, played an important role in the Counter-Reformation and eventually succeeded in converting millions around the ...read more

Jimmy Hoffa disappears

On July 31, 1975, James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century, disappears in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard from again. Though he is popularly believed to have been the victim of a Mafia hit, conclusive evidence was never ...read more

Agreement on conduct of war

In a news conference, Secretary of State Dean Rusk admits there are differences between the United States and South Vietnam on the issue of extending the war into North Vietnam, but agreement on the general conduct of the war. He stated that U.S. warnings to communist China and ...read more

Nolan Ryan wins 300th game

On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan wins the 300th game of his career, throwing 7 2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. was born January 31, 1947, in Refugio, Texas and raised in Alvin, ...read more

Former President Andrew Johnson dies

On this day in 1875, former President Andrew Johnson, the man who had become president upon the tragic assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, dies of a stroke while visiting his daughter in Tennessee. Johnson’s career took him from mayor of Greeneville (1834) to the ...read more

Apache scout Martine dies

Charles Martine, an Apache scout who played an important role in the surrender of Geronimo, dies on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico.Born in 1858 among the Chiricahua Apache of northern Mexico, Martine was captured as a young boy and sold to a Mexican family as a servant. ...read more

Ahmet Ertegun is born in Istanbul, Turkey

One of the most influential figures in the history of American popular music was born on this day in 1923 in perhaps the unlikeliest of places: Istanbul, Turkey. The son of a high-ranking diplomat, Ahmet Ertegun enjoyed a cosmopolitan upbringing that included stops in ...read more

Daniel Defoe is put in the pillory

On this day, Daniel Defoe is put in the pillory as punishment for seditious libel, brought about by the publication of a politically satirical pamphlet.Defoe’s middle-class father had hoped Defoe would enter the ministry, but Defoe decided to become a merchant instead. After he ...read more

J.K. Rowling born

On this day in 1965, Joanne Rowling, better known the world over as J.K. Rowling, the author and creator of the celebrated Harry Potter book series, is born near Bristol, England. Beginning in the late 1990s, Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels became international blockbusters, ...read more

Hurricane sinks Spanish treasure ships

A hurricane strikes the east coast of Florida, sinking 10 Spanish treasure ships and killing nearly 1,000 people, on this day in 1715. All of the gold and silver onboard at the time would not be recovered until 250 years later. From 1701, Spain sent fleets of ships to the ...read more

Jimmy Hoffa vanishes

Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing in Detroit, Michigan. He was last seen alive in a parking lot outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant the previous afternoon. To this day, Hoffa’s fate remains a mystery, although many believe that he was murdered by ...read more

Senator Robert A. Taft dies

Senate Majority Leader Robert A. Taft (R-Ohio) dies of cancer at the age of 63. Branded by critics as an “isolationist,” Taft was a consistent critic of America’s Cold War policies. Taft, known as “Mr. Republican” because of his ferocious partisanship, was a true conservative in ...read more

Third Battle of Ypres begins in Flanders

On July 31, 1917, the Allies launch a renewed assault on German lines in the Flanders region of Belgium, in the much-contested region near Ypres, during World War I. The attack begins more than three months of brutal fighting, known as the Third Battle of Ypres.While the first ...read more