On this day ...
1542: Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace.
1733: A Dorset man reported seeing a polished silver disc in the sky - the first known sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object, or UFO.
1854: Pope Pius IX settled an ancient controversy by declaring Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary, was preserved from all sin from the moment she was conceived.
1859: Thomas de Quincey, essayist and opium addict, died in Scotland.
1864: The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon at Bristol, designed by Brunel, was opened.
1894: James Thurber, American humorist and creator of Walter Mitty, was born in Columbus, Ohio.
1941: Britain and the US declared war on Japan.
1980: John Lennon, above, was shot dead in New York by Mark David Chapman.
1991: Leaders of the three republics - Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine - formed a “commonwealth of independent states” and pronounced the Soviet Union dead.
ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: A YouTube prankster freed by a fire crew after using Polyfilla to ‘cement’ his head inside a microwave was warned against risking his life for ‘other people’s entertainment’. BIRTHDAYS: James Galway, flautist, above, 79; Sir Geoff Hurst, former footballer, 77; Kim Basinger, actress, 65; Teri Hatcher, actress, 54; David Harewood, actor, 53; Sinead O’Connor, singer, 52; Dominic Monaghan, actor, 42; Nicki Minaj, singer, 36.