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10 Things for the Week of April 6 - April 12
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

10 Things for the Week of April 6 - April 12
4 April 2014

We are all on our own personal odyssey -- it's long, and full of twists and turns, but through it we gain personal knowledge and understanding of things we could never have imagined. Well, sometimes we do imagine it, and to our complete surprise and astonishment it comes true. What does the future hold?

Understanding and the exploration of space has progressed so much. What did we know 10, 20, 30 ... 100, 200, 300 years ago? New findings seem to be coming out every other day: An under-ice ocean on Enceladus, a ring around an asteroid, new possible dwarf planets ... and with several missions in flight (think Dawn, Juno, New Horizons, MAVEN) and slated for development, the list can only grow. The question should be: What CAN'T the future hold?

There are many opportunities to remember, learn and celebrate our travels into space this week. Learn all about them in this week's edition of 10 Things.

1. HAL

46 years ago, Sunday, the iconic movie 2001 A Space Odyssey was released.

This movie was directed by Stanly Kubrick, and Arthur C. Clarke, the great imagin-er and writer of space and the future wrote the story as well as co-wrote with Kubrick the screenplay for this movie.

2. CLOSER

Mars will be at opposition on Tuesday, April 8th. Opposition means that Mars, the Earth and the sun will be positioned in a straight line with the Earth in the middle.

This year's opposition will place Mars closer to the Earth than it has been since 2007. You may be able to view the polar ice caps of Mars with just a small telescope. See Jane Houston Jones' What's Up For April to get viewing tips.

P.S. Dwarf planet Haumea will also be at opposition, but on April 10th.

3. HOBBIT

Bilbo Baggins, the original and reluctant traveler/adventurer of Tolkien fame, has an asteroid named for him. Asteroid 2991 Bilbo will make its closest approach to Earth (1.363 AU) on Wednesday, April 9th.

"'Go back?' he thought. 'No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!'" --Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

4. FUTURE TRAVEL

This Thursday and Friday, April 10th-11th, you can be a virtual participant and learn more about the future of space travel at NASA's Community Workshop on the Global Exploration Roadmap. The actual workshop will take place in Baltimore, Maryland.

The NASA Community Workshop on the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) will provide an opportunity for focused community discussion related to advancing the definition of the three near-term mission themes identified in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) Mission Scenario.

There is also a virtual seminar concerning the upcoming mission to retrieve an asteroid for study this week on Friday, April 11th staring at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST). These seminars, hosted by SSERVI, are given bi-weekly. This week's is titled: Physical Properties of NEAs.

5. SPACE ART

Wondering about what worlds orbiting other stars looks like? What colors might they be? What surface features would they have? Why not draw, paint, color your ideas and enter the Kepler Art of Discovery Art contest? Who knows -- Your imagination may in fact be reality.


P.S. April 12th is a major day in space history.

6. HERESY

It has been 381 years since Galileo Galilei was convicted of heresy (April 12, 1633).

There was a time when all believed that the Earth was the center of the solar system. Galileo did not agree. It was Galileo's support of the Copernican theory (which defines the solar system as one where all of the planets, including the Earth, orbit the sun) that led to his arrest for heresy by the Inquisition and his life imprisonment under house arrest.

Galileo discovered four moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus and more.

7. FIRST

The first man in space was Russian cosmonaut , Yuri Gagarin. It all took place on April 12, 1961 when Yuri made a 108-minute orbital flight of the Earth in a Vostok 1 spacecraft.

Since Yuri's first flight, nearly 600 men and women have flown in space.

8. SPACE SHUTTLE

Exactly 20 years after Yuri's flight into space, the first space shuttle launched on April 12th (1981). The Space Shuttle program consisted of six space shuttles, with the last space shuttle taking flight in 2011.

You can view a retired space shuttle up close at various science centers throughout the country. Check out the link below for more information.

9. YURI'S NIGHT

Celebrate man's entrance into space at a space party on April 12th. This worldwide event is in it's 13th year. Find a party near you, or host one of your own.

10. STAR-GAZER

Also this week, on Monday April 7th, it's the 244th anniversary of the birth of English, romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

In the poem Star-Gazers (1806), Wordsworth describes a scene in which a throng of people view the moon through a telescope. The ending line of the poem states that the onlookers are disappointed as they leave.

Consider this, telescopic viewing could only see so much then. We did not know as much about our solar system either. No mission had been sent yet and we had only just discovered the then first asteroid (Ceres, 1801). Neptune would not be discovered until September 23, 1846. Space was much smaller then.

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About: Autumn Burdick
Photo of Autumn Burdick
Autumn is the science writer who enjoys bringing this weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system to you. Follow SSE on Twitter: @NASASolarSystem
Read More by Autumn Burdick
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Last Updated: 4 Apr 2014