Today is Monday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2001 with 14 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 American Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson, who fought as a man under the alias Robert Shurtleff, in 1760; poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1807; conductor Arthur Fiedler in 1894; novelist Erskine Caldwell in 1903; journalist William Safire in 1929 (age 72); publisher Bob Guccione in 1930 (age 71); British singer/actor Tommy Steele in 1936 (age 65); actor Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters") in 1945 (age 56); comedian Eugene Levy ("Second City TV") in 1946 (age 55); and actor Bill Pullman ("Independence Day") in 1954 (age 47).
On this date in history:
In 1790, the Aztec Calendar or Solar Stone was uncovered by workmen repairing Mexico City's Central Plaza.
In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made history's first successful airplane flight, soaring over the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk, N.C.
In 1925, Army Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, outspoken advocate of a separate U.S. Air Force, was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services. He was awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.
In 1939, the Nazi warship Graf Spee was scuttled off the coast of Uruguay as British vessels pursued it.
In 1967, the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress.
In 1981, American Brig. Gen. James Dozier was kidnapped in Rome by Italy's Red Brigades. He was freed 42 days later in a raid by Italian anti-terrorist forces.
In 1986, a Las Vegas federal jury awarded entertainer Wayne Newton $19.3 million in his defamation suit against NBC. A judge later reduced the award to $5.3 million.
Also in 1986, a federal jury in Detroit cleared automaker John DeLorean of all 15 charges in his fraud and racketeering trial.
In 1990, Secretary of State Baker told NATO that Iraq might withdraw from Kuwait around the Jan. 15 deadline. NATO rejected the partial solution.
In 1991, 15 people were killed and 20 wounded in clashes between Soviet troops and guerrillas in a disputed Armenian enclave.
In 1992, Israel tried to deport hundreds of Palestinians to Lebanon but Beirut closed the border, trapping them in the Israeli-controlled "security zone."
Also in 1992, President Bush formally signed the North American Free Trade Treaty simultaneously with the leaders of Mexico and Canada.
In 1993, President Clinton acknowledged the $500 million gift of philanthropist Walter Annenberg to public-education reform.
In 1994, North Korea said it shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in North Korean airspace, killing one pilot. The second pilot was reportedly uninjured but was held in North Korea.
In 1996, the United Nations elected Kofi Annan of Ghana the new secretary-general.
In 1997, New Jersey became the first state in the United States to permit homosexual couples to adopt children.
In 1998, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said 1998 was the warmest year ever recorded.
A thought for the day: in "Hawthorne," Henry James wrote, "It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature."