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Space (or outer space) describes the vast empty regions between and around 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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The Hubble Deep Field

The Hubble Deep Field is the result of a series of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope of a small region of the northern celestial hemisphere. It was assembled from 342 separate exposures taken with the Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 over 10 consecutive days between December 18 and December 28, 1995. The field is small enough that only a few foreground stars in the Milky Way lie within it; thus, almost all of the 3,000 objects in the image are galaxies, some of which are among the youngest and most distant known. By revealing such large numbers of very young galaxies, the HDF has become a landmark image in the study of the early universe, and it has been the source of almost 800 scientific papers since it was created. Three years after the HDF observations were taken, a region in the south celestial hemisphere was imaged in a similar way and named the Hubble Deep Field South. The similarities between the two regions strengthened the belief that the universe is uniform over large scales and that the Earth occupies a typical region in the universe (the cosmological principle).

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Phases of the Moon
Credit: Tom Ruen

An animation of the phases of the Moon. As the Moon revolves around the Earth, the Sun lights the Moon from a different side, creating the different phases. In the image, the Moon appears to get bigger as well as "wobble" slightly. Tidal locking synchronizes the Moon's rotation period on its axis to match its orbital period around the earth. These two periods nearly cancel each other out, except that the Moon's orbit is elliptical. This causes its orbital motion to speed up when closer to the Earth, and slow down when farther away, causing the Moon's apparent diameter to change, as well as the wobbling motion observed.

Astronomical events

11 February, 14:23Moon at apogee
15 February, 18:57Moon occults Mercury
15 February, 20:51New moon and partial solar eclipse
16 February, 16:09Moon occults Venus
17 February, 12:30Mercury at superior conjunction
27 February, 14:47Moon at perigee

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