TIME space

See a Rare View of Saturn’s Rings

It's the best time of year to view Saturn's rings

Saturn will come closer to earth this weekend than at any other time of the year, giving us earthbound creatures an incomparable view of its rings. For a closer look, “community observatory” Slooh trained Internet-connected telescopes on the planet during peak viewing hours. The images are shown in the video above, which includes expert commentary from Slooh astronomer Will Gater and Cornell University planetary scientist Dr. Jonathan Lunine.

TIME astronomy

This Beautiful Photo Shows Why the Hubble Telescope Matters

NASA Hubble Space Westerlund 2
NASA/ESA/Hubble/AFP/Getty Images This Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble's 25th year in orbit.

It's the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope turns 25 on Friday, and in honor of its quarter-century anniversary, NASA unveiled a celebratory photo.

The Hubble photo captures the full spectrum of light emitted by new stars, showcasing more colors than the human eye can see on its own. The telescope reveals in magnificent detail the spawning of newborn stars and the gas and dust around them.

This particular image is of Gum 29, according to NASA, a region of the universe where many new stars are born 20,000 light years away from Earth. The intensely lit cluster is Westerlund 2, between 6 and 13 light years across and made up of 3,000 stars.

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

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TIME space

See the Closest Color Photo of Pluto Ever Taken

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9.

It is also the first color image snapped from an approaching spacecraft

Pluto, which sits approximately 4.67 billion miles from Earth, just got a tiny bit closer. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft this month captured the first color image of the dwarf planet from just 71 million miles away — the closest image ever recorded. It is accompanied by a image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, which is similar in size to Texas.

NASA expects to complete early reconnaissance of Pluto and its system on July 14, when it will capture color images detailing “surface features as small as a few miles across.” The trove of data collected will no doubt enhance everyone’s insight into the minor planet.

“In an unprecedented flyby this July, our knowledge of what the Pluto systems is really like will expand exponentially and I have no doubt there will be exciting discoveries,” says NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld.

TIME On Our Radar

Two Filmmakers Set Out to Capture the Last Mesmerizing Dark Skies

Skyglow is a still-photography, time-lapse project

If, like 54% of the world’s population, you live in an urban area, you are no doubt familiar with the awe inducing experience of venturing out into nature and looking up at the night sky.

Away from the city lights, the sky shimmers with countless stars and planets glinting back at you; you can clearly make out constellations and the Milky Way.

A new project, Skyglow, by filmmakers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic seeks to capture that phenomenon in the last remaining ‘dark sky’ locations and archaeoastronomy sites in North America using still photography and time-lapses. “I lived in LA for 12 years, so I hadn’t seen the stars,” Mehmedinovic tells TIME. “Part of my childhood in Bosnia I grew up rurally, so I was able to see the night sky. It was kind of a spiritual experience as a kid. And that I lost that for many years.”

The duo hopes to use the project as a means of spreading awareness around the effects of light pollution and to explore the psychological effects of living in a world without stars. To that end, they’ll be working with the Tucson-based nonprofit, International Dark-Sky Association. “Their goal has always been to preserve dark skies,” says Mehmedinovic. “Their primary interest is to influence cities to change their lighting systems and revamp the way we think about how much needs to be lit or not lit.” “That’s the thing we’re learning really quickly,” added Heffernan. “It’s not something that has to be this way.”

Creating Skyglow, which will culminate in the publication of a coffee table book and Blu-ray of their best time-lapse footage, will be an adventure in its own right. “We have a plan of renting the Breaking Bad RV for two or three major trips, plot out places on the map we can head up in one straight line with an end destination of Alberta or Alaska to get those incredible Northern Lights next year. Glacier National Park is the big one on the list for us, and Yosemite. On the East Coast, there’s only a few remaining dark sky locations,” says Heffernan.

“There’s something undeniable and extremely seductive the idea of the skies, ” adds Mehmedinovic. “Just the fact that we can hardly see it anymore. I think that experience, for most people now, it’s hard to come by. And it made a whole lot of sense to try to communicate this to others.”

“What we often do is we set up a camera and we leave [it],” says Mehmedinovic. “And then go down five miles and set up another camera. Then drive down five miles. You’re leaving a camera in the middle of nowhere. It seems insane. But in the middle of the night, the chances of somebody seeing it and finding it are pretty low. Although we do have some strange stories that have happened.”

In conjunction with International Dark Sky Week, Heffernan and Mehmedinovic have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. To read more about the effects of light pollution, dark sky locations, and contribute to the campaign, visit the Skyglow Kickstarter page.

TIME space

See Photos of the Shortest Lunar Eclipse of the Century

The full "blood moon" lunar eclipse lasted just five minutes

TIME space

Watch the ‘Blood Moon’ Total Lunar Eclipse

The moon will was totally eclipsed for about five minutes

The shortest “blood moon” total lunar eclipse this century was observed by early-bird stargazers on Saturday morning.

At 6:16 a.m. EDT, the moon first entered the Earth’s shadow and was totally eclipsed for about five minutes beginning at 7:58 a.m., according to NASA. While the entire United States was able to see at least a partial eclipse, those west of the Mississippi River had the best views, uninterrupted by the sunrise.

This was the third lunar eclipse in a series of four known as a “tetrad,” following those in April and September last year. The final one of the series will occur on Sept. 28, 2015.

Want a primer on the “blood moon”? Read TIME Science Editor Jeffrey Kluger’s explanation of the phenomenon here.

TIME space travel

The Opportunity Mars Rover Finally Completes a Marathon

But it wasn't exactly a fast race

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Marathon
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHSThis map shows NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover’s entire traverse from landing to Marathon Valley. The rover completed its first Red Planet marathon Tuesday — 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers)

The first marathon on Mars was finally completed Tuesday by NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover—and it only took about 11 years and two months.

“This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world,” John Callas, the rover’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a celebratory statement. “A first time happens only once.”

Opportunity landed on the Red Planet on Jan. 25, 2004, with an “original three-month prime mission” but since then been driving around and stopping to perform scientific research. As of Tuesday, Opportunity is on the west rim of Endeavor Crater—nicknamed “Marathon Valley”—where it continues to research the planet’s ancient wet conditions.

Opportunity previously broke a record last year when it overtook the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 moon rover as the off-Earth rover that had traveled the most distance.

“This mission isn’t about setting distance records, of course; it’s about making scientific discoveries on Mars and inspiring future explorers to achieve even more,” said Steve Squyres, the rover’s principal investigator at Cornell University. “Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool.”

Opportunity and NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover are the only operating rovers on Mars. NASA’s previous rover, Spirit Mars Rover, became stuck in soft soil in 2009 and ceased communication with scientists in 2010.

TIME space

Watch the Total Solar Eclipse in 5 Seconds

ESA/SDO/dpa/Corbis (6); GIF by Mia Tramz for TIME

If you weren't in the Faroe Islands to see it, catch the time lapse here

People in a small swath of Europe were treated to a total solar eclipse early Friday morning as the moon aligned to fully block the sun from their vantage point on Earth.

The European Space Agency published images of the eclipse recorded by a small Proba-2 satellite.

Americans haven’t seen a total solar eclipse since 1979, and certain states will see the next one on Aug. 21, 2017.

TIME astronomy

Watch the Solar Eclipse

See the moon block out the sun

Lucky skywatchers were able to spot Friday’s solar eclipse, when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, plunging parts of the world into darkness.

The best place to see the eclipse was in the Faroe Islands, 200 miles off the coast of Scotland, and in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, which was set to experience a total eclipse, reports the Guardian.

Starting in Greenland at sunrise, the eclipse moved in a semicircle northeast, passing over Iceland, and reached the U.K. at around 8:45 a.m. local time. But most of the solar eclipse was expected to go unseen as it crossed over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

Weather permitting, residents in Europe and northern Africa, western Asia and parts of the Middle East were able to enjoy a partial eclipse to varying degrees. St. John’s in Newfoundland Canada was expected to see a small part of the eclipse but the rest of North America won’t be able to experience it.

A solar eclipse can only happen when there is new moon, and Friday’s is set to be a supermoon, meaning the moon is the closest point to the earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger.

To complete the trio of celestial events, Friday also marks the spring equinox, the time of year when day and night are of equal length.

If you are lucky enough to observe the full or partial eclipse, experts advise not to look directly at the sun, especially when taking photographs or selfies.

[Guardian]

Read next: See the Best Solar Eclipse Pictures

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