Today is Thursday, Feb. 19, the 50th day of 2009 with 315 to follow.
The moon is waning. The morning stars are Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Neptune and Saturn. The evening stars are Venus and Uranus.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Pisces. They include Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 1473; British actor David Garrick in 1717; Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi in 1876; actress Merle Oberon in 1911; jockey Eddie Arcaro in 1916; novelist Carson McCullers in 1917; actor Lee Marvin in 1924; singers William "Smokey" Robinson in 1940 (age 69) and Lou Christie in 1943 (age 66); author Amy Tan in 1952 (age 57); actors Jeff Daniels in 1955 (age 54), Justine Bateman in 1966 (age 43) and Benicio Del Toro in 1967 (age 42); singer Seal in 1963 (age 46); and Britain's Prince Andrew in 1960 (age 49).
On this date in history:
In 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy, was born in Torun, a city in north-central Poland.
In 1807, Aaron Burr, a former U.S. vice president, was arrested in Alabama on charges of plotting to annex Spanish territory in Louisiana and Mexico to be used toward the establishment of an independent republic.
In 1878, Thomas Edison patented the first gramophone.
In 1922, vaudeville star Ed Wynn became the first big name in show business to sign for a regular radio show.
In 1942, as a security measure during World War II, the U.S. government began relocating Japanese-Americans living in coastal Pacific areas to internment camps located in remote areas of several states. They were allowed to return to their homes in January 1945.
In 1945, U.S. Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima, opening one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific during World War II.
In 1986, the U.S. Senate endorsed the U.N. convention against genocide, 37 years after U.S. President Harry Truman first sought approval of the accord.
In 1991, Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin demanded the resignation of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1997, China's "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping died at age 92.
In 2003, all 289 people aboard an Iranian military transport plane were killed when it crashed in a mountainous region of southeastern Iran.
In 2005, Iran was reported to be making ready for a possible U.S. attack or at least appearing to prepare for war to dissuade Washington from such an attack.
Also in 2005, U.S. Roman Catholic officials said they received 1,092 charges of clergy sex abuse, most involving boys.
In 2006, more than 1,000 people were listed as missing two days after a landslide wiped out a village on the Philippine island of Leyte.
Also in 2006, the Israeli government voted to halt the monthly transfer of tens of millions of dollars in tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, now run by the Hamas militant party.
In 2007, European environment ministers called or a 20 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by EU member states by 2020.
In 2008, Cuban President Fidel Castro, 81, who temporarily handed power to his brother Raul in July, 2006, when he fell ill, stepped down permanently after 49 years in power. Raul, 76, formally succeeded him as chief of state, promising few changes in governing of the Communist island nation.
A thought for the day: it was Henry Ward Beecher who said, "Every charitable act is a stepping stone toward heaven."