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 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 space

Watch the SpaceX Rocket Landing in Slow Motion

The rocket tipped over due to excess lateral velocity

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, marking the sixth resupply mission for SpaceX to the International Space Station and a second chance at attempting to recover a Falcon 9 rocket. The company released this HD slow motion video on Wednesday that shows the rocket approach SpaceX’s autonomous drone barge landing platform, then tipping over after impact. SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk tweeted:

TIME viral

This Is the First Doughnut to Be Launched Into Space

No, that isn't the title of a Flaming Lips album. It's an actual thing

It was one small step for two brothers and a giant leap for mankind after the duo succeeded in sending what is believed to be the first doughnut into space this month.

According to Swedish news outlet the Local, the brothers Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson from Lysekil, Sweden, crossed the border into Norway last week, where they attached a doughnut and camera to a weather balloon and launched the contraption, sending it almost 20 miles above the earth’s surface.

“I’m really into space and photography, and I used to play around with weather balloons back in school,” Alexander told the Local. “Then we had the idea that we should send something really crazy up into space and thought ‘Hey, nobody has ever sent a doughnut up before.’”

Hours after being launched, the vessel and the doughnut came crashing down to earth and was later recovered in Lake Vättern, Sweden. The doughnut, albeit soggy, was still intact.

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 space

SpaceX Rocket Launches for International Space Station

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Apr. 14, 2015.
John Raoux—AP The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Apr. 14, 2015.

It is packed with 4,300 pounds of supplies

SpaceX launched a cargo ship to the International Space Station Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule were scheduled for liftoff Monday, but the launch was postponed because of weather and, as creator Elon Musk put it, the fact that the “moon was in the way.”

One of the deliveries—in what MarketWatch reports as SpaceX’s sixth resupply mission—is an espresso machine for Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Dragon is packed with 4,300 pounds of goods.

TIME Business

Daughter Wrote Astronaut Dad a Sweet Note He Can Read From Space

All with the help of 11 Hyundais

Many parents travel for work, but a Texas 13-year-old named Stephanie has a father with a particularly challenging commute—he works in the International Space Station.

And so, to let her Dad—who ABC reports is probably Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts—know how much she misses him, Stephanie decided to write him a very, very large note that he could read from space.

“It might make him miss us even more, or miss Earth,” Stephanie said in Hyundai’s latest ad.

Since it would be nearly impossible for Stephanie to scrawl a note that’s big enough for her Dad to read, the car company deployed a fleet of 11 Hyundai Genesises to write a 5.5 square km note in Nevada’s Delamar Dry Lake. That’s one and a half times the size of New York’s Central Park.

Stephanie’s astronaut father got the message, according to Hyundai.

TIME space

Water Could Be Forming in the Martian Soil Under Certain Conditions

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is pictured in this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana" on Mars in this handout photo. June 2014.
NASA/Reuters NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is pictured in this self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called "Windjana" on Mars in this handout photo. June 2014.

Major requirement for the existence of life? Check

NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered that conditions on Mars are “favorable” to producing briny water in the soil, which could in turn imply that water could form all over the surface of the Red Planet if certain conditions are met.

Scientists found that the soil in the Gale Crater of Mars contained perchlorate, a salt that acts as a kind of anti-freeze by absorbing water vapor from the atmosphere, lowering the freezing temperature of the water.

Curiosity’s latest findings — published as a study in Nature Geosciences — have led NASA scientists to suggest that, during certain cold nights, the temperature and humidity levels are just right for brine to form in the soil, drying out after sunrise.

Liquid water is a requirement for life, the study’s lead author Javier Martin-Torres said. But the data doesn’t mean the rover will unearth E.T. on its next mission.

“Conditions near the surface of present-day Mars are hardly favorable for microbial life as we know it, but the possibility for liquid brine on Mars has wider implications for habitability and geological water-related processes,” he said.

The latest study analyzes the planet’s humidity and temperature for a full Martian year. The data shows that brine should be forming all over the planet, especially at higher altitudes.

“Gale Crater is one of the least likely places on Mars to have conditions for brines to form, compared to sites at higher latitudes or with more shading,” said co-author of the report Alfred McEwen.

Since Curiosity landed on the Martian planet in August 2012, it has found strong evidence to suggest that ancient stream-beds and lakes existed more than three billion years ago. To discover how these environmental conditions evolved, the rover is now examining Mount Sharp, a mountain with sediment layers that lies at the center of the Gale Crater.

TIME Gadgets

Watch NASA’s Spectacular First GoPro Video Captured on a Spacewalk

"Video like this is the whole reason we built the camera"

GoPro’s community of thrill seekers might have been upstaged permanently by a NASA astronaut who captured stunning footage of a spacewalk using a high definition camera for the very first time.

NASA astronaut Terry Virts strapped on the point-of-view camera last February before venturing out of the International Space Station (ISS) to do some exterior housekeeping on the berthing docks. He and astronaut Barry Wilmore were reconfiguring the ports for the upcoming arrival of commercial crews.

Along the way, they captured two stunning videos, one showing the ISS’ incomparable views of earth and the other floating beneath the station’s underbelly, bristling with panels, cables and dishes.

“This was the first time an astronaut captured HD video of a spacewalk while outside,” NASA public affairs officer Dan Huot told TIME. The GoPro helmet camera used features much higher resolution than the astronauts’ current helmet-cams. “They are small, simple and have great quality,” he said.

The camera used during the space-walk works much like the kind of GoPro you can buy here on Earth, only with a one-touch power up and record function. “This makes it much easier to execute while wearing large gloves,” Huot added.

The footage is quieter and slower than the typical GoPro images of say, roof jumpers or a great white shark lunging toward the camera. But then it’s hard to top the hypnotic movement of a camera in zero gravity, where even a belt buckle, floating into the frame, can be fascinating to watch.

“Video like this is the whole reason we built the camera,” Rick Loughery, a spokesperson for GoPro, said. “To be able to share that perspective with the world.”

Read next: A Year in Space

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