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Hubble ultra deep field.jpg

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.

Selected article

Uranus in 1986 by Voyager 2

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun; it is the third largest and fourth most massive planet in the solar system. Uranus was the first planet discovered in modern times. Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers due to its dimness. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system. Uranus' atmosphere, although similar to Jupiter and Saturn in being composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, contains a higher proportion of "ices" such as water, ammonia and methane, along with the usual traces of hydrocarbons. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system, with a minimum temperature of 49 K, and has a complex layered cloud structure in which water is thought to make up the lowest clouds, while methane makes up the uppermost layer of clouds. In 1986, images from the Voyager 2 space probe showed Uranus as a virtually featureless planet in visible light without the cloud bands or storms associated with the other giants. The wind speeds on Uranus can reach 250 m/s (560 mph).

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Space Shuttle Columbia at Launch Pad A, Complex 39, 12 April 1981.
Credit: NASA

A timed exposure of the first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1. The shuttle Columbia stands on launch pad A at Kennedy Space Center, the night before launch. The objectives of the maiden flight were to check out the overall Shuttle system, accomplish a safe ascent into orbit and to return to Earth for a safe landing.

Space news

Upcoming spaceflight launches

The next scheduled launch is of the Chang'e 5-T1 test mission on a Long March 3C rocket. Launch from Jiuquan LA-4 is scheduled for 18:00 UTC on October 23, 2014.
The next scheduled manned launch is of Soyuz TMA-15M on a Soyuz-FG rocket, carrying three Expedition 43 crew members to the International Space Station. Launch from Baikonur Site 1/5 is scheduled for 20:59 UTC on November 23, 2014.
For a full launch schedule see 2014 in spaceflight

Astronomical events

6 October, 09:46 Moon at perigee
7 October Uranus at opposition
8 October, 10:55 Full moon and total lunar eclipse
8 October, 16:00 Draconids peak
16 October, 20:42 Mercury at conjunction
18 October, 06:10 Moon at apogee
19 October Comet PanSTARRS at maximum brightness
22 October, 07:00 Orionids peak
23 October, 21:45 New moon and partial solar eclipse
25 October, 07:30 Venus at superior conjunction

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