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Explosion on board the USS Lexington
Explosion on board the USS Lexington

The Battle of the Coral Sea (4–8 May 1942) was the first battle of World War II in which the Allies were able to stop a major advance of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Japanese forces, including two fleet carriers and a light carrier, had orders to invade and occupy Port Moresby in New Guinea and Tulagi in the southeastern Solomon Islands. The US intercepted their communications, and sent two carrier task forces and a joint AustralianAmerican cruiser force to stop them. On 3–4 May Japanese forces took Tulagi, although several of their supporting warships were sunk or damaged by aircraft from the US carrier Yorktown. On 7–8 May the opposing carrier forces exchanged airstrikes in the Coral Sea. Yorktown was damaged, and the USS Lexington was scuttled (explosion pictured). After the loss of the Japanese carrier Shōhō and heavy damage to Shōkaku, the Port Moresby invasion was scrapped, and never reattempted. The Japanese losses led to a greater loss a month later at the Battle of Midway, where all four of their large aircraft carriers were sunk. Two months later, the Allies launched the Guadalcanal Campaign, hastening Japan's ejection from the South Pacific. (Full article...)

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Gothic statue of St Sophia and her daughters
Statue of St Sophia and her daughters

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Mark Selby in 2015
Mark Selby

On this day...

May 4: National Day of Prayer in the United States (2017); Star Wars Day


Herman II (d. 1003) · Audrey Hepburn (b. 1929) · Christian de Duve (d. 2013)

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Today's featured picture

Rubens Peale

Rubens Peale (1784–1865) was an American artist and museum director. Son of artist-naturalist Charles Willson Peale and brother of artist Rembrandt Peale, Rubens took up painting after a lengthy career managing such museums as the Peale Museum in Baltimore and his own New York Museum of Natural History and Science in New York. In the last decade of his life, he produced 130 paintings.

Shown here is Rubens Peale With a Geranium, an 1801 portrait by Rubens' brother Rembrandt. This painting's 1985 sale to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., set a record for an American work of art sold at auction.

Painting: Rembrandt Peale

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