Today is Saturday, Dec. 15, the 349th day of 2001 with 16 to follow.
The moon is waxing, moving toward its first quarter.
The morning star is Jupiter.
The evening stars are Mars and Saturn.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Sagittarius. They include the Roman emperor Nero in 37 A.D.; Polish linguist Ludwik Zamenhof, creator of the international language Esperanto, in 1859; French engineer Alexandre Eiffel, builder of the Paris tower that bears his name and engineer of the Statue of Liberty, in 1832; playwright Maxwell Anderson in 1888; billionaire oilman John Paul Getty in 1892; pioneer rock 'n' roll disc jockey Alan Freed in 1922; comic actor Tim Conway in 1933 (age 68); rock musician Dave Clark in 1942 (age 59); and actors Don Johnson in 1950 (age 51) and Garrett Wang ("Star Trek: Voyager") in 1968 (age 33).
On this date in history:
In 1791, the Bill of Rights, comprising the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, took effect.
In 1890, Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull was killed in a skirmish with U.S. soldiers along the Grand River, S.D.
In 1943, the Battle of San Pietro between American forces and a German panzer battalion left the 700-year-old Italian town in ruins.
In 1948, a federal grand jury in New York indicted former State Department official Alger Hiss on perjury charges.
In 1954, what may be considered TV's first mini-series premiered. "Davy Crockett" aired in a series of five segments on Walt Disney's "Disneyland" show.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association reversed its longstanding position and declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness.
In 1989, Panamanian lawmakers designated Gen. Manuel Noriega head of state and declared that a "state of war" existed with the United States.
In 1990, in a landmark right-to-die case, a Missouri judge cleared the way for the parents of Nancy Cruzan to remove their daughter from life-support systems.
In 1991, more than 400 people drowned when a ferry headed from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Egypt sank in the Red Sea; 150 were rescued.
In 1992, the governor of Michigan signed a bill making assisted suicide a felony on the same day two chronically ill women killed themselves with the help of "Dr. Death" Jack Kevorkian.
Also in 1992, a college student in Great Barrington, Mass., went on a shooting rampage, killing a professor and another student and wounding four other people.
And in 1992, Salvadorans celebrated the formal end to their country's 12-year civil war.
In 1993, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin announced he was resigning for "personal reasons." Aspin was the first member of the Clinton Cabinet to quit.
And in 1993, the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ended with agreement on new global-trade regulations.
In 1996, Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas agreed to merge to form the world's largest aerospace company.
In 1997, the Pentagon ordered all 1.4 million men and women in uniform to be inoculated against anthrax.
Also in 1997, 85 people were killed when a Tajik charter airliner crashed in the United Arab Emirates.
In 1998, President Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at an Israeli border point.
A thought for the day: the title of a poem by Stephane Mallarme is "A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance."