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February 8, 1983 – Dust storm hits Melbourne, Australia, turning day to night


The 1983 Melbourne dust storm was a meteorological phenomenon that occurred during the afternoon of 8 February 1983, throughout much of Victoria, Australia and affected the capital, Melbourne. Red soil, dust and sand from Central and Southeastern Australia was swept up in high winds and carried southeast through Victoria. The dust storm was one of the most dramatic consequences of the 1982/83 drought, at … Continue reading

February 8, 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded


After 19 years of imprisonment, Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I. In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her mother sent her to be raised in … Continue reading

February 7, 1992 – European Union treaty was signed


After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally united in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty, signed by ministers of the European Community, called for greater economic integration, common foreign and security policies and cooperation between police and other … Continue reading

February 6, 1952 – King George VI died and Elizabeth II became queen


On February 6, 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her father’s death; she was … Continue reading

February 5, 146 BCE – Punic Wars, between Rome and Carthage, came to an end


On February 5, 146 BCE, the Roman Republic finally triumphed over its nemesis, Carthage, after over a century of fighting. The victory and subsequent destruction of the city of Carthage marked the end of the Punic Wars and represented Rome’s replacement of Carthage as the dominant power of the Western Mediterranean, a position it would hold for the next … Continue reading

February 4, 2004 – Facebook was launched


On February 4, 2004, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg launches The Facebook, a social media website he had built in order to connect Harvard students with one another. By the next day, over a thousand people had registered, and that was only the beginning. Now known simply as Facebook, the site quickly ballooned into one of … Continue reading

February 3, 1998 – US Marine jet severed ski-lift cable in Italy


On February 3, 1998, a U.S. Marine jet flying low over the town of Cavalese in the Italian Alps severed a ski-lift cable, sending a tram crashing to the ground and killing 20 people. Cavalese is located in the Dolomite Mountains, about 20 miles northeast of Trento, Italy. In 1976, 42 people there, including 15 … Continue reading

February 2, 1812 – Russians established Fort Ross in California


Staking a tenuous claim to the riches of the Far West, Russians established Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco. As a growing empire with a long Pacific coastline, Russia was in many ways well positioned to play a leading role in the settlement and development of the West. The Russians had begun … Continue reading

February 1, 1979 – Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran


On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph after 15 years of exile. The shah and his family had fled the country two weeks before, and jubilant Iranian revolutionaries were eager to establish a fundamentalist Islamic government under Khomeini’s leadership. Born around the turn of the century, Ruhollah Khomeini was the … Continue reading

January 31, 1968 – Nauru gained independence from Australia.


Nauru, officially the Republic of Nauru (Nauruan: Repubrikin Naoero) and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country and microstate in Oceania, in the Central Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, 300 km (190 mi) to the east. It further lies northwest of Tuvalu, 1,300 km (810 mi) northeast of the Solomon Islands, east-northeast of Papua New Guinea, southeast of the Federated States of Micronesia and south of the Marshall Islands. With only a 21 km2 (8.1 sq mi) … Continue reading

January 31, 1950 – Truman announced development of H-bomb


On June 31, 1950, U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announced his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet … Continue reading

January 30, 1950 – Birth of Jack Newton, Australian golfer


Jack Newton OAM (born 30 January 1950) is an Australian former professional golfer. Newton was born in Cessnock, New South Wales. He was one of Australia’s most successful golfers in the 1970s and early 1980s. He turned professional in 1971 and won his first professional tournament – the Dutch Open – in 1972. Newton notched up several victories over the next … Continue reading

January 30, 1948: Mahatma Gandhi assassinated


On January 30, 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist. Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that … Continue reading

January 29, 2015 – Death of Colleen McCullough, Australian neuroscientist, author, and academic


Colleen Margaretta McCullough AO (married name Robinson, previously Ion-Robinson; 1 June 1937 – 29 January 2015) was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and The Ladies of Missalonghi. McCullough was born in 1937 in Wellington, in the Central West region of New South Wales, to James and Laurie McCullough.  Her father was of Irish descent and her mother was a … Continue reading

January 29, 1977 – “Roots” premiered on television


January 29, 1977 saw the premiere of Roots, a groundbreaking television program. The eight-episode miniseries, which was broadcast over eight consecutive nights, follows a family from its origins in West Africa through generations of slavery and the end of the Civil War.  Roots one of the most-watched television events in American history and a major moment in mainstream … Continue reading

January 28, 1953 – Death of James Scullin, Australian journalist and politician, 9th Prime Minister of Australia


James Henry Scullin (18 September 1876 – 28 January 1953) was an Australian Labor Party politician and the ninth Prime Minister of Australia. Scullin led Labor to government at the 1929 election. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 transpired just two days after his swearing in, which would herald the beginning of the Great Depression in Australia. Scullin’s administration would soon be overwhelmed by … Continue reading

January 28, 1986 – The space shuttle Challenger exploded after liftoff


At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew … Continue reading

January 27, 1921 – Maurice Buckley, Australian soldier and winner of the Victoria Cross, dies at 29


Maurice Vincent Buckley, VC, DCM (13 April 1891 – 27 January 1921) was an Australian soldier serving under the pseudonym Gerald Sexton who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. This is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Buckley was born at Upper Hawthorn, Melbourne, to Timothy Buckley, brickmaker, and his … Continue reading

January 26, 1808 – Rum Rebellion, the only successful armed takeover of the government in Australia


The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was a coup d’état in the then-British penal colony of New South Wales, staged by the New South Wales Corps in order to depose Governor William Bligh. Australia’s first and only military coup, it is named after early Sydney’s illicit rum trade, over which the Rum Corps, as it became known, … Continue reading

January 26, 1926 – John Logie Baird demonstrates TV


On January 26, 1926, John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, gives the first public demonstration of a true television system in London, launching a revolution in communication and entertainment. Baird’s invention, a pictorial-transmission machine he called a “televisor,” used mechanical rotating disks to scan moving images into electronic impulses. This information was then transmitted by … Continue reading

January 25, 1954 – Birth of Kay Cottee, Australian sailor


Kay Cottee AO (born 25 January 1954) is an Australian sailor, who was the first woman to perform a single-handed, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world. She performed this feat in 1988 in her 37 feet (11 m) yacht Blackmores First Lady, taking 189 days. Born Kay McLaren—the youngest of four daughters—in Sydney on 25 January 1954, Cottee grew up in … Continue reading

January 25, 1971 – Charles Manson and his followers convicted of murder


In Los Angeles, California, cult leader Charles Manson is convicted, along with followers Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkle, of the brutal 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others. In 1967, Manson, a lifetime criminal, was released from a federal penitentiary in Washington State and traveled to San Francisco, where he attracted a following among rebellious young women … Continue reading

January 24, 1968 – The 1st Australian Task Force launches Operation Coburg against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong


Operation Coburg (24 January − 1 March 1968) was an Australian and New Zealand military action during the Vietnam War. The operation saw heavy fighting between the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) and North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces during the wider fighting around Long Binh and Bien Hoa. American and South Vietnamese intelligence reports had indicated that an imminent communist offensive during the Tet … Continue reading

January 24, 1972 – Japanese soldier found hiding on Guam after 28 years


After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discover Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese sergeant who fought in World War II. Guam, a 200-square-mile island in the western Pacific, became a U.S. possession in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1941, the Japanese attacked and captured it, and in 1944, after three years … Continue reading

January 23, 1942 – The Battle of Rabaul commences Japan’s invasion of Australia’s Territory of New Guinea


The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II, with the Japanese invasion force quickly overwhelming the small Australian garrison, the majority of which was … Continue reading

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