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

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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 Outer Space

Asteroid Flies By Earth With Its Own Moon in Tow

The asteroid and its companion were too far away to pose a threat

The asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday has its own moon.

The 230-foot wide moon trailed behind asteroid 2004 BL86, and NASA scientists captured images as it passed. The asteroid and its companion were too far away to pose a threat, flying about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth. But it will still be the largest asteroid known to pass this close to the earth until 2027, when an asteroid called 1999 AN10 is expected to arrive.

Asteroid 2004 BL86 will not return to pass by Earth for at least another 200 years, NASA scientists say.

“While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more,” Don Yeomans said a statement.

TIME space

Stunning Images Of Galaxy Clusters Teach Scientists About Star Birth

Chandra observations of the Perseus and Virgo galaxy clusters suggest turbulence may be preventing hot gas there from cooling
CXC/Stanford/NASA Chandra observations of the Perseus and Virgo galaxy clusters suggest turbulence may be preventing hot gas from cooling.

Turbulence is preventing star formation

It seems that the stars have aligned in the world of astronomy.

In a new study, researchers found that galactic turbulence may prevent the formation of new stars in outer galaxy clusters, which are the largest objects in the universe held together by gravity, existing at temperatures upwards of a million degrees.

Scientists have long wondered why these massive clusters have not begun to cool and form stars.

“We knew that somehow the gas in clusters is being heated to prevent it cooling and forming stars. The question was exactly how,” said lead researcher Irina Zhuravleva, of Stanford University.

According to Zhuravleva, the heat is being “channeled” through turbulence within the cluster. This movement is what maintains the cluster’s high temperature, preventing star formation.

TIME Outer Space

Look Up: There’s a Rare Partial Solar Eclipse Thursday

Sudan Solar Eclipse
Anadolu Agency—Getty Images A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Sudanese capital Khartoum on November 3, 2013.

Here's when to look up at the sky

As long as rainclouds aren’t obstructing the view, people across the United States will be able to look up Thursday afternoon to witness the moon cover part of the sun in a rare partial solar eclipse.

According to Weather.com, nearly all of North America, barring part of Canada and New England, will be able to see the display. Sky and Telescope has a list of when the eclipse will be visible in different major cities. The partial solar eclipse will be viewable in New York beginning at 5:49 p.m. and peaking at 6:03, though skywatchers on the west coast will get the best show — the eclipse begins in Los Angeles at 2:08 p.m. and hit its peak midway point at 3:28 p.m. local time.

Here’s a map that tracks eclipse visibility:

While there will be another partial solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, Business Insider reports there won’t be another that is visible to the entire country until 2023. So maybe step outside — but take precautions.

“Looking directly at the Sun is harmful to your eyes at any time, partial eclipse or no,” says Sky and Telescope’s Alan MacRobert. “The only reason a partial eclipse is dangerous is that it prompts people to gaze at the Sun, something they wouldn’t normally do. The result can be temporary or permanent blurred vision or blind spots at the center of your view.”

[Sky and Telescope]

TIME space

Researchers Just Discovered The Brightest Dead Star Ever Found

A rare and mighty pulsar (pink) can be seen at the center of the galaxy Messier 82 in this new multi-wavelength portrait, released on Oct. 8, 2014.
NASA/JPL-Caltech A rare and mighty pulsar (pink) can be seen at the center of the galaxy Messier 82 in this new multi-wavelength portrait, released on Oct. 8, 2014.

Astronomers using NASA’s NuSTAR telescope array have found something beautiful about 12 million light-years from our planet Earth: The brightest dead star, or pulsar, ever found. It’s only called a dead star because it’s the leftovers from a supernova — this thing is still very much alive, pumping out around 10 million suns’ worth of energy, according to NASA. Scientists originally thought the pulsar, located in the Messier 82 galaxy, was a black hole, but it turns out that isn’t the case at all.

“You might think of this pulsar as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ of stellar remnants,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in a NASA release about the pulsar. “It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass.”

TIME Outer Space

Russia Says It’s Putting Another Man on the Moon…By 2030

Soyuz TMA-12M Prepares To Launch
Joel Kowsky—NASA/Getty Images The Soyuz TMA-12M rocket launches to the International Space Station, March 26, 2014 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

One giant leap for mankind, again

Russia’s space agency said Tuesday it will launch a “full-scale” exploration of the Moon as part of a long-term mission to get a human being on the lunar surface for the first time in decades.

The head of Roscomsos, Oleg Ostapenko, said that designs were already underway for a manned spacecraft that he estimated could reach the moon by the end of the next decade. “By that time, based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate [the] most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases,” Ostapenko said, according to a translation by Russian state-owned news agency ITAR-TASS.

The mission was announced at a government meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has previously threatened to sever ties with American space agencies over the West’s reproach of Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

“At the end of the next decade, we plan to complete tests of a super-heavy-class carries rocket and begin full-scale exploration of the Moon,” Rogozin said.

TIME space

SpaceX Is Building a New Launch Site In Texas

The next launch site for billionaire Elon Musk's space company will be built in one of the poorest cities in America

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced Monday that private space company SpaceX will build the first-ever exclusively commercial launch site near Brownsville, Texas. SpaceX, owned and operated by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, received a $2.3 million investment from the state to build its site in Texas.

Brownsville has a median income of $30,000, and nearly 40% of Brownsville’s population lives below the poverty line — the highest percentage in the country. Perry said in his announcement that the SpaceX site will bring 300 new jobs and inject $85 million into the local economy.

TIME Outer Space

What’s Next For NASA? Asteroids!

NASA aims to continue their space exploration with their Asteroid Redirect Mission.

NASA has not sent astronauts to the moon since 1972. While that remains a historic event, President Barack Obama’s cancellation of the Constellation Program back in 2010 ended hopes indefinitely of the United States returning to the moon any time soon.

Still, that program’s death did not mark the end of NASA’s work and planetary exploration overall. The agency is currently working on its next target: catching an asteroid, pulling it into the moon’s orbit and sending astronauts to its location in order to study it.

The purpose of the mission, according to NASA, is for planetary defense, as the Earth has had instances of asteroid interference in very recent history. Scientists claim that in changing the orbit of an asteroid and studying its composition, Earth could protect itself from another asteroid crashing into its atmosphere.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission, should it be successful, could also be used as a testing ground for a possible mission to Mars in the near future.

TIME NASA

Astronaut’s Selfie Is Out of This World

It is terrifying

NASA astronaut Rich Mastracchio aboard the International Space Station took a seriously impressive selfie Wednesday during an EVA—short for Extra-Vehicular Activity. That’s astronaut-ese for spacewalk.

As one might imagine, the confines of a spacesuit make it difficult to snap a proper selfie, but he was able to pull it off after a few tries.

Mastracchio may win for coolest selfie ever with this one. At least we can say it’s not the coolest selfie on earth.

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