TIME Outer Space

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

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

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.
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

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

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.

TIME space travel

Space Station Gets Special SpaceX Easter Delivery

Space Station
In this April 20, 2014 image made from a frame grabbed from NASA-TV, the SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule is birthed on to the International Space Station at 10:06 a.m. EDT. NASA/AP

SpaceX company's space capsule Dragon delivered two tons of food, gear, experiments and care packages to the six men aboard the International Space Station on Sunday. Dragon chased the space station for two days following its Cape Canaveral launch

While children looked for Easter eggs on planet Earth, astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a gift from the Easter Dragon on Sunday.

Dragon, the name of the SpaceX company’s space capsule, delivered two tons of food, gear, experiments and care packages to the six men aboard the station, the Associated Press reports. Dragon chased the space station for two days following its Friday launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. before astronauts captured it with a robotic arm.

“Gentlemen, the Easter Dragon is knocking at the door,” NASA’s Mission Control said as the capsule was locked into place.

The capsule will remain docked at the space station until May, when it will be sent back home full of samples from experiments the astronauts are conducting onboard.

[AP]

TIME Bitcoin

The Winklevoss Twins Are Going to Space, Thanks to Bitcoin

Moet & Chandon Toasts The 139th Kentucky Derby - Day 2
Mike Coppola—Getty Images

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss say they'll bankroll an out-of-this-world trip aboard the Virgin Galactic for the low price of 716 bitcoin. Perhaps no one is anticipating their launch more than Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Ready for the most Internet-friendly news you’ll hear all day? The Winklevoss twins’ recent bitcoin endeavors are bankrolling their trip to outer space onboard the Virgin Galactic. We’re sure Mark Zuckerberg looks forward to their departure from the earth’s stratosphere, if only for a few hours.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson began accepting the crypto currency as a viable means of payment for the $250,000-a-pop ticket in November. That’s the current equivalent of 716 bitcoin, which is a fraction of the Winklevoss twins’ reported 1% ownership (about 100,000 coins) of the currency.

Tyler announced their brotherly space journey of Twitter and their personal blog, which likens their adventure to the explorations of Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Vasco da Gama.

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