TIME space

Watch Live: The Lyrid Meteor Shower

Live footage of the annual celestial event as it reaches its peak

You’ll want to set your alarm early the next couple of days for a unique celestial display.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower will be at its most visible on April 22 and 23, with peak viewing time just before dawn. This year’s shower coincides with a crescent moon, making it a darker night than usual, which allows for better observation of the phenomenon.

But don’t fret if the forecast calls for cloudy skies near you—the online observatory Slooh will be hosting a livestream of the shower starting at 8 p.m. E.T. on Wednesday, and you can see it above.

Add this page to your favorites, and wake before dawn for a glimpse of one of nature’s best light shows.

TIME space

See the 50 Best Images Taken by Hubble

After a quarter of a century on the job, the Hubble Space Telescope has returned some of the most extraordinary cosmic images ever captured

The best space machines reveal their purpose with a single glance. The gangly, leggy lunar module could only have been a crude contraption designed to land on another world. A rocket, any rocket, could only be a machine designed to fly—fast, high and violently.

And so it is with the Hubble Space Telescope—a bright silver, 43 ft. (13 m) long, 14 ft. (4.2 m) diameter cylinder, with a wide open eye at one end and a flap-like eyelid that, for practical purposes never, ever closes. Since shortly after its launch on April 24, 1990, that eye has stared and stared and stared into the deep, and in the 25 years it’s been on watch, it has revealed that deep to be richer, lovelier and more complex than science ever imagined.

Hubble started off sickly, a long-awaited, breathlessly touted, $1.5 billion machine that was supposed to change astronomy forever from almost the moment it went into space, and might have too if its celebrated 94.5 in. (2.4 m) primary mirror that had been polished to tolerances of just 10 nanometers—or 10 one-billionths of a meter—hadn’t turned out to be nearsighted, warped by the equivalent of 1/50th the thickness of a sheet of paper. It would be three and a half years before a fix could be devised and built and flown to orbit and shuttle astronauts could set the myopic mirror right. And then, on January 13, 1994, the newly sharpened eye blinked open, the cosmos appeared before it and the first of one million observations the telescope has made since then began pouring back to Earth.

Some of Hubble’s images have become cultural icons—Pillars of Creation, the Horsehead Nebula. Some have thrilled only scientists. All have been mile-markers in the always-maturing field of astronomy. The fifty images that follow are just a sampling of the telescope’s vast body of work. Hubble still has close to a decade of life left to it. That means a great deal more work and a great many more images—before the metal eyelid closes forever.

TIME animals

Confined Chimps Will Get Their Day in Court, Judge Rules

chimpanzee
Getty Images

The chimps will face another hearing on May 6

A New York judge ruled this week to grant lawyers representing two chimpanzees a hearing to challenge the animals’ confinement.

The judge’s ruling comes in response to a complaint filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of two chimpanzees held at Stony Brook University. In response to the ruling, the university will be required to demonstrate to a court that it has reason to detain the chimpanzees.

The decision does not guarantee that the chimpanzees will be released and instead only sets up another hearing, scheduled for May 6, to determine whether Stony Brook has a reason to detain them. New York courts have previously upheld the right to detain chimpanzees.

The judge, Barbara Jaffe of the New York County Supreme Court, originally had invoked habeas corpus, to order the hearing, but amended her order the day following her initial decision. Habeas corpus, a doctrine used to protect against unlawful imprisonment, had never been used to protect non-human animals. The Nonhuman Rights Project argued that by granting the chimpanzees habeas corpus, Jaffe had “implicitly determined” that chimps are “persons.”

Stony Brook declined to comment on pending litigation.

TIME Environment

Questions Remain Over U.S. Preparedness for the Next Oil Spill

Eleven People Missing After Explosion At Offshore Drilling Rig
U.S. Coast Guard Fire boats battle a fire at the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.

Despite more frequent drilling, environmental activists say not enough has changed in the way the government oversees deepwater drilling.

In the midst of 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Barack Obama’s administration declared a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling. The spill was one of the country’s most devastating environmental disasters, and the freeze was intended to give the federal government time to assess what safety measures it had in place. But the moratorium passed, and drilling quickly resumed.

Now, five years later, offshore oil drilling is more frequent and is done to even greater depth. Since the BP spill, the federal government has approved more than 20 ultra-deepwater drilling expeditions, according to the Associated Press. Environmental activists say not enough has changed in the way the federal government oversees the deepwater drilling.

“The BP spill happened five years ago, but the next offshore oil disaster is still just one mistake away because the oil companies have fought putting the strongest possible protections on the books,” said Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, in a statement.

Since 2010, the federal government has addressed the causes of the spill by heightening standards for the design and casing of deep-sea oil wells and nearly doubling the number of inspectors. Earlier this month, the Obama administration proposed increasing regulation of the blowout preventer, the last line of defense in preventing a spill. The blowout preventer failed in the Deepwater Horizon accident, one of the many factors

“A lot has occurred to make offshore drilling safer,” said Eileen P. Angelico, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an agency created to monitor offshore drilling after the BP spill. “Government oversight of drilling has been strengthened…and there has been a significant increase in the number of offshore inspectors and technical experts.”

But environmental activists say the changes aren’t enough. The number of offshore incidents including fires, oil spills and explosions, among other things, has remained high over the past five years, according to data from the BSEE. There were nearly 2,800 incidents and 11 deaths between 2011 and 2014. There were 3,200 incidents and 32 deaths in the previous four-year period. More importantly, environmental activists say, many spills go unreported.

“The industry has destroyed hundreds of square miles of sensitive wetlands, while daily, and often unreported, leaks and spills pose serious threats to our fisheries, wildlife and natural habitat,” said Jonathan Henderson, who monitors field operations at Gulf Restoration Network, in a statement.

At the same time, oil companies have launched operations drilling at depths far greater than the 13,000 feet below sea level where the 2010 spill occurred, according to the Associated Press. Stopping a spill in the deeper and more complex wells would be far more difficult than it was to stop the BP spill—which eventually spewed an estimated 176 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

But even if tougher regulations were able to prevent all potential oil spills, many environmental activists—and some officials in the federal government—argue that offshore drilling still needs to end. Drilling only deepens reliance on the fossil fuels that cause climate change, experts say. Indeed, Obama used the Deepwater Horizon debacle in 2010 as an opportunity to advocate for the “transition to clean energy.”

“There are costs associated with this transition,” said Obama at the time. “We can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy—because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.”

Despite the environmentally friendly gesture, environmental activists say the president’s energy policy leaves much to be desired. The White House is pushing to open new areas to offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Atlantic and Arctic waters need to be taken completely off the table to oil and gas drilling,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director Peter Lehner in a statement at the time. “All offshore drilling is risky, but the worst thing we could do right now is open up new, never-spoiled, or long-closed areas to the risks this industry poses.”

TIME space

How to Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower This Week

The April Lyrids in Kutahya
Fatma Selma Kocabas Aydin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The April Lyrids, a meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26 each year, is seen over the ancient city of Aizanoi in Kutahya, Turkey on April 23, 2014.

The best time is just before dawn

You won’t want to miss this week’s meteor shower, so here’s what you need to know.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower occurs from April 16 to 25, but the best time to see it will be right before dawn on April 22 and 23, according to Slooh, an online observatory. This year’s shower promises to be especially good to watch because it coincides with a crescent moon, meaning the sky will be darker than usual.

“This year the moon will be a waxing crescent only 1/15th the brightness of a full moon, and it will set early, allowing excellent dark sky conditions for this shower,” said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman in a statement.

The best views will be in Europe, but people all across the globe should be able to catch some of the dazzling Lyrid fireballs by heading outside just before dawn. You can also watch a livestream of the meteor shower below, hosted by Slooh, beginning at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

 

Read next: All That Glitters: 15 Breathtaking Photos of Meteor Showers

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME animals

Humpback Whales May No Longer Be Endangered

Whale Breaching
Michael Penn—AP In this July 9, 2014 photo, an adult humpback whale breaches in Lynn Canal near Juneau, Alaska.

Two populations of the whales would still be considered endangered

Most humpback whales may no longer be endangered.

On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed removing more than two-thirds of the world’s humpback whale population from the endangered species list.

Humpback whales were first classified as in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1970. The NOAA’s proposal would remove 10 of the 14 recognized whale populations from the endangered species list, while two would be listed as endangered and the remaining two would be classified as threatened.

“The return of the iconic humpback whale is an ESA success story,” Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, said in the NOAA release. “As we learn more about the species—and realize the populations are largely independent of each other—managing them separately allows us to focus protection on the animals that need it the most.”

The last time NOAA removed a species from the endangered list due its recovery was in 1994, when it took off a population of gray whales, the Associated Press reports. Once removed from the list, all the humpback whales would still be protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

TIME astronomy

Scientists Have Discovered the Biggest Known ‘Structure’ In the Universe

But you couldn't be blamed for missing it

Scientists researching a mysteriously cold region in space have found what they say is the largest known “structure” in the universe — a gigantic hole.

Discovered by researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the expanse is being called the “supervoid” and measures 1.8 billion light years across, the Guardian reported.

The university’s lead researcher István Szapudi called it “the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity,” although his team’s targeted survey confirmed that it contains absolutely nothing — all scientists know is that about 10,000 galaxies are missing from it in a section that shows unusually low temperatures.

Read more at The Guardian

Read next: How to Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower This Week

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME animals

Sex Life of Vampire Squids Hints at Why They Outlive Shallower Peers

vampire squid
Getty Images A Vampire Squid, (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

It's about energy, or perhaps a lack of it

Ever wondered how vampire squids reproduce? Some researchers were, too, and they found something surprising.

Unlike other squids, which spawn once, vampire squids can spawn many times—perhaps more than 100, according to a new study in Current Biology. The difference may be the result of a low-energy lifestyle in deep seas, where there is almost no light.

As Henk-Jan Hoving, of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, explained to the Christian Science Monitor, it’s possible that vampire squids simply don’t have enough energy to spawn all of their eggs at once.

Since they don’t live long in captivity, Hoving says it’s difficult to know what their lifespan may be. But since animals that spawn multiple times often live longer than those that spawn only once, the discovery means it’s possible that the vampire squid may live much longer than its coleoid cephalopod counterparts.

[CSM]

TIME animals

Dog Flu Is Spreading In The Midwest

'It’s believed that the H3N2 strain was introduced here from Asia, but how it happened is not known'

Pet owners beware: dog flu exists and it’s spreading. At least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana were infected in the last month, according to research from the University of Wisconsin and Cornell University.

Doctors at the two schools identified the virus as a strain of H3N2, a branch of the disease commonly found in Chinese and South Korean dog populations. The virus is not believed to spread to humans.

“It’s believed that the H3N2 strain was introduced here from Asia, but how it happened is not known,” said Keith Poulsen, a University of Wisconsin veterinarian, in a press release.

Veterinarians suggest pet owners largely approach dog flu the way they approach human influenza. Dogs should be vaccinated and avoid contact with other dogs in areas with flu outbreaks. Additionally, dogs’ human handlers should wash their hands before touching other dogs.

TIME human behavior

Men Give More Generously to Attractive Fundraisers, Study Finds

Fundraising
Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

They'll also compete against one another to give more generously

Fundraisers might want to make a note of this.

Men give more generously to fundraising campaigns if they see that other men have donated large amounts and if the fundraiser is an attractive woman, a new study published in Current Biology has found.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol say this “competitive helping” exists in the human subconscious because it was evolutionarily beneficial.

The scientists wanted to find out why people behave generously in situations when there is no obvious benefit to them in doing so. And according to a co-author of the study, UCL’s Nichola Raihani, this competitive generosity is more of a male trait (although they don’t specify whether sexual orientation plays a part).

“We found a remarkably strong response with men competing to advertise generosity to attractive women, but didn’t see women reacting in a similar way. Showing competitive helping is more a male than female trait,” she said.

Raihani used online fundraising pages from the 2014 London marathon and had 668 participants rate the attractiveness of the fundraiser. Personal information such as the name and gender of fundraiser and a photo are present on the pages, as well as the name and gender of other donors and how much they have given.

They found that when the fundraiser was an attractive woman (attractiveness, according to the researchers, had a lot to do with facial expressions such as smiling), men would compete with one another and make larger donations.

“Fundraising pages provide a fascinating real-life laboratory for looking at charity donations. Previously, we saw how donors responded to how much other people had given. Now we see that the response depends — albeit subconsciously — on the fundraiser’s attractiveness,” said co-author Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol.

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