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October 21, 1805

Battle of Trafalgar

In one of the most decisive battles in history, a British fleet under Admiral Horatio Nelson defeats a combined French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, fought off the coast of Spain. At sea, Lord Nelson and the Royal Navy consistently thwarted Napoleon, who led France to preeminence on...

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October 21, 1683

First Recorded Observation of Rare Ball Lightning

On this day in 1638, as a Sunday afternoon service was taking place in the Church of St. Pancras, the Great Thunderstorm of 1638 swept through Widecombe-in-the-Moor in Dartmoor, England, and struck the church with the first episode of ball lightning ever to be observed. According to eyewitn...

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October 21, 1520

Magellan Enters the Forbidding Tierra del Fuego

On this day in 1520, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed through the strait now bearing his name that separates the Tierra del Fuego archipelago from mainland South America. He named the region "Land of Fire," either after the volcanoes then actively spewing flames, or for the fires th...

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