Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, known as Enya, was born 54 years ago today. The Grammy-winning Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter got her big break in 1980s BBC documentary series The Celts; each episode of which began with a video of the singer lip-syncing the theme song. The soundtrack for the series was released in 1987, by BBC Records, and called Enya. Today, the singer has sold more than 75 million records, owns a castle south of Dublin and the asteroid 6433 has been named after her. It was discovered on November 18, 1978, by Antonín Mrkos …

Born in 1918, the astronomer was the first Czechoslovakian to reach the southern pole of inaccessibility (where the Soviet Union research station was located) as a member of the third Soviet Antarctic Expedition, which explored the area between 1957 and 1959. He revisited the pole, to study auroras, in the 1960s, but a third trip was blocked by an assassination attempt: after Mrkos’ mineral water was spiked with concentrated detergent, he could eat only liquid meals. By the time of his death, at the age of 78, Mrkos had discovered 13 comets and more than 270 asteroids, including 6758 Jesseowens, named in honour of American athlete Jesse Owens …

James Cleveland Owens became known as “Jesse” because that’s what his initials “J.C.” sounded like in his Alabama accent. During away competitions as a member of Ohio State University’s athletics team, Owens was forced to stay at blacks-only hotels. In the 1936 Summer Olympics, in Berlin, Germany, Owens scooped gold in the 100 metres, 200 metres, long jump and 4x100 metre relay, countering Adolf Hitler’s propaganda about Aryan racial superiority. In 1976, Owens was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald Ford …

Taking office on August 9, 1974, Ford declared, “I assume the presidency under extraordinary circumstances … This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.” As the 38th president of the United States, he was faced with rampant inflation, a depressed economy and chronic energy shortages.  Stepping in after Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, Ford was the first and, to date, only person to have served as vice-president and president of the US without being elected by the Electoral College. During their marriage, Ford and his wife, Betty, had four children and a golden retriever called Liberty …

Given to Ford as an eight-month-old puppy by his daughter, Susan, and White House photographer David Hume Kennerly in 1974, the presidential pet was often photographed in the Oval Office and on the South Lawn of the White House. Snaps of Liberty were autographed with a rubber stamp of her paw print. Legend has it that when Ford wanted to end a conversation, he’d give Liberty a signal and she would go to the guest wagging her tail, creating a natural break. The dog, along with Ford, was parodied on Saturday Night Live by comedian Chevy Chase …

The New York-based actor, writer and comedian was a key cast member in the inaugural season of Saturday Night Live, which began in October 1975. Chase has twice hosted the Academy Awards and appeared in various films, including an uncredited cameo appearance in the 1991 movie L.A. Story, the soundtrack to which includes three songs by Irish singer Enya.