Today is the 288th day of 2021 and the 24th day of autumn.

TODAY’S HISTORY: In 1917, infamous spy Mata Hari was executed by a firing squad outside Paris.

In 1990, Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 2003, China became the third nation (after the United States and Russia) to launch a manned space mission.

In 2005, Iraqi citizens voted to approve a new constitution.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), philosopher; P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), author/humorist; Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1917-2007), historian; Lee Iacocca (1924-2019), business leader; Penny Marshall (1943-2018), film director/actress; Jim Palmer (1945-), baseball player; Sarah Ferguson (1959-), Duchess of York; Emeril Lagasse (1959-), chef/TV personality; Dominic West (1969-), actor; Carlo Janka (1986-), Olympic skier.

TODAY’S FACT: Confederate marine engineer H.L. Hunley died aboard a hand-powered submarine of his own invention when it sank during a test run on this day in 1863. The vessel was later raised and became the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel when it was used to attack the U.S.S. Housatonic in February 1864.

TODAY’S SPORTS: In 1989, Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings tied and broke Gordie Howe’s NHL career scoring record of 1,850 points with an assist and a goal against the Edmonton Oilers. He went on to score the game-winning goal in overtime.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.” — P.G. Wodehouse

TODAY’S NUMBER: 1,933 — length (in miles) of the United States’ border with Mexico, which is less than half as long as the United States-Canada border (3,987 miles, excluding Alaska).

TODAY’S MOON: Between first quarter moon (Oct. 12) and full moon (Oct. 20).