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Space (or outer space) describes the vast empty regions between planets and stars. The study of these, and other, astronomical objects is called astronomy, one of the oldest sciences. It is often said that space exploration began with the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. Then, in an almost unbelievable feat of human achievement, in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin travelled to the Moon and set foot on the surface during the Apollo 11 mission. Recently, it has become clear that the possibility of space colonization may no longer be exclusively reserved for science-fiction stories, and many controversial issues surrounding space have come to light, including commercial spaceflight, space laws and space weapons.

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Jupiter, as seen from Voyager (1979)

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the solar system. It is two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets in our solar system combined. Jupiter, along with Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, is classified as a gas giant. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of -2.8, making it the fourth brightest object in the night sky. The planet was known by astronomers of ancient times and was associated with the mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures. Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with only a small proportion of helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements. The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries. A prominent result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the seventeenth century. Surrounding the planet is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere. There are also at least 67 moons, including the four large moons called the Galilean moons that were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Jupiter has been explored on several occasions by robotic spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyager fly-by missions and later by the Galileo orbiter.

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A long prominence/filament of solar material erupting out into Space from the Sun's corona.
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

On August 31, 2012 a long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, erupted out into space at 4:36 p.m. EDT. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, traveled at over 900 miles per second. The CME did not travel directly toward Earth, but did connect with Earth's magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear on the night of Monday, September 3. Pictured here is a lighten blended version of the 304 and 171 angstrom wavelengths.

Space news

Upcoming spaceflight launches

The next scheduled launch is of a Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, for the SpaceX CRS-3 logistics mission to the International Space Station. Launch from Cape Canaveral SLC-40 is scheduled for 19:25 UTC on April 18, 2014.
The next scheduled manned launch is of Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft on a Soyuz-FG rocket, carrying three Expedition 41 crew members to the International Space Station. Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome is scheduled for 19:56 UTC on May 28, 2014.
For a full launch schedule see 2014 in spaceflight

Astronomical events

2 April Uranus at conjunction
8 April, 14:50 Moon at apogee
8 April, 21:03 Mars at opposition
15 April, 05:36 Ceres at opposition
15 April, 07:46 Full moon and total lunar eclipse
17 April, 07:20 Moon occults Saturn
22 April, 20:00 Lyrids peak
23 April, 00:20 Moon at perigee
26 April, 03:30 Mercury at superior conjunction
29 April, 06:03 New moon and annular solar eclipse

Space-related portals

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