View our new "On this day" sections for November.


1 November 

  • 1963 The Arecibo Observatory, which includes the largest radio telescope in the world, opens

2 November 

  • 2000 A three-person crew begins the first long-duration stay on the International Space Station

  • 1885 Birth of Harlow Shapley, the first astronomer to realise that our galaxy is much bigger than had been thought
  • 1929 Birth of Richard E Taylor, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for his work on the quark model of particle physics

3 November 

  • 1957 The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2, with the dog Laika on board

  • 1973 The Mariner 10 spacecraft is launched towards Mercury

4 November 

  • 1908 Birth of Józef Rotblat, the physicist whose work on nuclear fallout contributed to the Partial Test Ban Treaty and who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995

5 November 

  • 1906 Birth of Fred Lawrence Whipple, the astronomer who came up with the “dirty snowball” explanation of comet composition

    1948 Birth of William Daniel Phillips, joint winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for his work on laser cooling

6 November 

  • 1935 Inventor Edwin Armstrong presents a paper to the Institute of Radio Engineers that first described what would become FM broadcasting

7 November 

  • 1996 The Mars Global Surveyor is launched

  • 1867 Birth of Marie Curie, who won the 1903 Nobel Prize for her work on radioactivity
  • 1888 Birth of C V Raman, winner of the 1930 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the optical scattering effect now named after him

8 November 

  • 1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovers what would become known as the x-ray

  • 1656 Birth of Edmond Halley, the second Astronomer Royal and discoverer of Halley’s Comet
  • 1854 Birth of Johannes Rydberg, the physicist who studied atomic spectral lines and after whom the Rydberg constant, formula and atoms are named
  • 1923 Birth of Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit and winner of the Nobel Prize in 2000

9 November 

10 November 

  • 1935 Birth of Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov, the theoretical astrophysicist who formulated the Novikov self-consistency principle, which states that it is impossible to create time paradoxes

  • 1961 Birth of Rudolf Grimm, the first physicist to make a Bose-Einstein condensate from molecules

11 November 

  • 1930 Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd are awarded a patent for their design of a refrigerator with no moving parts

  • 1930 Birth of Hugh Everett III, the physicist who first proposed the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics

12 November 

  • 1980 The Voyager 1 spacecraft makes its closest approach to Saturn

  • 1842 Birth of Lord Rayleigh, discoverer of the elastic scattering of light now known as Rayleigh scattering, which explains why the sky is blue, and winner of the 1904 Nobel Prize

13 November 

  • 1971 Mariner 9 enters orbit around Mars, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet

14 November 

  • 2003 Discovery of 90377 Sedna, a trans-Neptunian object though to be one of the most distant bodies in the solar system

15 November 

16 November 

  • 1965 Venera 3 is launched, and will later become the first spacecraft to reach the surface of another planet

17 November 

  • 1970 Lunokhod 1, the first remote-controlled rover, lands on the moon

  • 1878 Birth of Lise Meitner, part of the team that discovered nuclear fission
  • 1902 Birth of Eugene Wigner, who won a share of the 1963 Nobel Prize for contributions to nuclear and particle physics

18 November 

  • 1897 Birth of Patrick Blackett, Baron Blackett, the experimental physicist who won the 1948 Nobel Prize for his investigations of cosmic rays with the cloud chamber he’d invented

19 November 

  • 1900 Birth of Mikhail Lavrentyev, whose studies of explosions made it possible for the construction industry to use controlled explosions for demolition

20 November 

  • 1602 Birth of Otto von Guericke, known for his work on the physics of vacuums

21 November 

22 November 

  • 1904 Birth of Louis Néel, joint winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for his investigations of the magnetic properties of solids

  • 1973 Birth of Chad Trujillo, co-discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris

23 November 

  • 1616 Birth of John Wallis, the first person to produce mathematical solutions describing inelastic collisions and who made contributions to infinitesimal calculus and to geometry

  • 1837 Birth of Johannes Diderik van der Vaals, winner of the 1910 Nobel Prize and known for the equation now named for him, which describes the behaviour of gases
  • 1887 Birth of Henry Moseley, whose measurements of the x-ray spectra of various elements put the empirical concept of the atomic number on a firm basis in physics

24 November 

  • 1774 Birth of Thomas Dick, the astronomer and science-teaching advocate credited with diffusing tension between science and religion

  • 1925 Birth of Simon van der Meer, the particle physicist who shared with 1984 Nobel Prize with Carlo Rubia for their contributions to the discovery of the W and Z particles
  • 1926 Birth of Tsung-Dao Lee, the particle physicist who won the 1957 Nobel Prize for his work on parity violation in weak interactions

25 November 

  • 1814 Birth of Julius von Mayer, one of the founders of thermodynamics

  • 1844 Birth of Karl Benz, inventor of the petrol-powered car and founder of Mercedes Benz

26 November 

  • 2012 Mars rover Curiosity lands on Mars
  • 1832 Birth of Rudolph Koenig, who made several contributions to acoustics

  • 1894 Birth of Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics

27 November 

  • 1971 A descent module released by the Soviet spacecraft Mars 2 becomes the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars, albeit by crashing

  • 2001 The Hubble Space Telescope detects a hydrogen atmosphere around the planet Osiris, orbiting a sun-like star 150 lightyears away in the constellation Pegasus, the first time the atmospheric composition of an extrasolar planet has been determined
  • 1701 Birth of the astronomer Anders Celsius, after whom the temperature scale is named
  • 1925 Birth of John Maddox, the science writer who edited Nature for 22 years

28 November 

  • 1950 Birth of Russell Alan Hulse, who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize with his doctoral supervisor Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. for their discovery of a new type of pulsar

29 November 

  • 1877 Thomas Edison first demonstrates his phonograph

  • 1961 Enos the chimpanzee is launched into space by the US; he orbits the Earth twice and splashes down in the pacific
  • 1803 Birth of Christian Doppler, who first related the observed frequency of a wave with the relative speed of source and observer in what is now known as the Doppler Effect
  • 1849 Birth of John Ambrose Fleming, the electrical engineer and physicist who invented the diode and came up with the “left hand rule” for electric motors

30 November 

  • 1756 Birth of Ernst Chladni, considered the father of acoustics for his measurements of the speed of sound in different gases

  • 1858 Birth of Jagadish Chandra Bose, a pioneer in radio and microwave optics
  • 1869 Birth of Gustaf Dalén, the inventor of the AGA cooker and winner of the 1912 Nobel Prize