Lyrid meteor shower peaks this week

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Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week

Look up. The Lyrid meteor shower is happening above you right now. This annual night light show is expected to peak just before midnight on Wednesday night, Apr. 22, and into the early morning hours of Thursday, Apr. 23.

"The Lyrids themselves are caused by comet Thatcher, which in recorded history was seen around 1861," Mitzi Adams, an astrophysicist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, told "But the comet has a 415-year cycle orbit. We won't see it again until about 2276 coming close into the sun."

What we do see every year is the comet's debris: balls of dust, dirt, grains of sand. In the case of the Lyrids, the debris is tiny - Adams said a pea-sized one would be large - traveling at 110,000 miles an hour. (They're pretty speedy, though not as fast as the Perseids, which move at 130,000 miles an hour and come around in August.) The Lyrid meteor shower happens each April, usually from the 16th through the 25th.

Lyrid meteor shower
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Lyrid meteor shower peaks this week
This long-exposure photograph taken on April 23, 2013 on Earth Day shows Lyrids meteors shower passing near the Milky Way in the clear night sky of Thanlyin, nearly 14miles away from Yangon. (Photo credit: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)
This long-exposure photograph taken on April 23, 2013 on Earth Day shows Lyrids meteors shower passing near the Milky Way in the clear night sky of Thanlyin, nearly 14miles away from Yangon. (Photo credit: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

Trail from a meteor over rice fields and houses in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan.

(photo credit: Jake Jung via Getty Images)

Lyrids Meteor Shower 2013 Sierra Nevada Mountains California USA

(photo credit: Shutterstock)


The 2015 showing isn't expected to have what Adams described as outbursts, hundreds of meteors per hour, but rather an average of 15 or 20 per hour. And the weather in most places won't be a hindrance. "Except for scattered clouds, particularly in southern Florida, most of the East Coast should have good viewing conditions," according to Chris Dolce, a digital meteorologist. "Portions of the Plains and Rockies will also have minimal cloud cover."

(MORE: Amazing Photos from the Hubble Telescope)

Not everywhere across the country is as lucky. "Cloud cover from a southward dip in the jet stream will make viewing the meteors difficult from the Great Lakes southward to near the Ohio Valley," Dolce added.

Adams, who is located in Huntsville, Alabama, said clear weather down south should let star-gazers see the meteors -- and be a nice change of pace. "We've been having rain, rain and more rain. We actually have sunshine today," she said. "It looks like we might actually have a good chance, tonight anyway, of seeing the meteor shower."

The moon will help, too. It's a waxing crescent, meaning just a sliver will show and it won't be too bright, leaving a big stage to showcase Thatcher's debris. "The sky will be very dark and it'll be much easier to see the meteors," Adams said.

No special equipment needed to see these "shooting stars." Binoculars and telescopes just limit your line of sight, and it's unlikely for a meteor to pass by that exact location. Instead, just look up, Adams noted. "Get yourself a nice insulated pad, put it on the ground, get a nice warm sleeping bag and curl up."

Best photos from NASA's Hubble telescope
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Lyrid meteor shower peaks this week

By pushing NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits, an international team of astronomers has shattered the cosmic distance record by measuring the farthest galaxy ever seen in the universe. This surprisingly bright infant galaxy, named GN-z11, is seen as it was 13.4 billion years in the past, just 400 million years after the Big Bang. GN-z11 is located in the direction of the constellation of Ursa Major.

(Photo via NASA)

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 1487, lying about 30 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Eridanus.

Rather than viewing it as a celestial object, it is actually better to think of this as an event. Here, we are witnessing two or more galaxies in the act of merging together to form a single new galaxy. Each galaxy has lost almost all traces of its original appearance, as stars and gas have been thrown by gravity in an elaborate cosmic whirl.

Unless one is very much bigger than the other, galaxies are always disrupted by the violence of the merging process. As a result, it is very difficult to determine precisely what the original galaxies looked like and, indeed, how many of them there were. In this case, it is possible that we are seeing the merger of several dwarf galaxies that were previously clumped together in a small group.

Although older yellow and red stars can be seen in the outer regions of the new galaxy, its appearance is dominated by large areas of bright blue stars, illuminating the patches of gas that gave them life. This burst of star formation may well have been triggered by the merger.

(Photo via ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt, Caption via European Space Agency)

These blue-white stars are burning their hydrogen fuel so ferociously they will explode as supernovae in just a few million years. The combination of outflowing stellar “winds” and, ultimately, supernova blast waves will carve out cavities in nearby clouds of gas and dust. These fireworks will kick-start the beginning of a new generation of stars in an ongoing cycle of star birth and death.

(Photo via NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), Acknowledgment: N. Smith (University of Arizona))

Most galaxies possess a majestic spiral or elliptical structure. About a quarter of galaxies, though, defy such conventional, rounded aesthetics, instead sporting a messy, indefinable shape. Known as irregular galaxies, this group includes NGC 5408, the galaxy that has been snapped here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA and the LEGUS) 

It would be reasonable to think of this as a single abnormal galaxy, and it was originally classified as such. However, it is in fact a “new” galaxy in the process of forming. Two separate galaxies have been gradually drawn together, attracted by gravity, and have collided. We now see them merging into a single structure.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Most Distant Galaxy Candidate Ever Seen in Universe

The farthest and one of the very earliest galaxies ever seen in the universe appears as a faint red blob in this ultra-deep–field exposure taken with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. This is the deepest infrared image taken of the universe. Based on the object's color, astronomers believe it is 13.2 billion light-years away.

(Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz and Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team) 

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The Veil Nebula, left behind by the explosion of a massive star thousands of years ago, is one of the largest and most spectacular supernova remnants in the sky. This is only a small section of it.

(Photo credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage)

A ribbon of gas, a very thin section of a supernova remnant caused by a stellar explosion that occurred more than 1,000 years ago, floats in our galaxy. The supernova that created it was probably the brightest star ever seen by humans.

(Photo credit: NASA, ESA & the Hubble Heritage team)

This image from Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 showcases NGC 1501, a complex planetary nebula located in the large but faint constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe).

Discovered by William Herschel in 1787, NGC 1501 is a planetary nebula that is just under 5,000 light-years away from us. Astronomers have modeled the three-dimensional structure of the nebula, finding it to be a cloud shaped as an irregular ellipsoid filled with bumpy and bubbly regions. It has a bright central star that can be seen easily in this image, shining brightly from within the nebula’s cloud. This bright pearl embedded within its glowing shell inspired the nebula’s popular nickname: the Oyster Nebula.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Marc Canale)

At first glance, Jupiter looks like it has a mild case of the measles. Five spots – one colored white, one blue, and three black – are scattered across the upper half of the planet. Closer inspection by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals that these spots are actually a rare alignment of three of Jupiter's largest moons – Io, Ganymede, and Callisto – across the planet's face. In this image, the telltale signatures of this alignment are the shadows [the three black circles] cast by the moons. Io's shadow is located just above center and to the left; Ganymede's on the planet's left edge; and Callisto's near the right edge. Only two of the moons, however, are visible in this image. Io is the white circle in the center of the image, and Ganymede is the blue circle at upper right. Callisto is out of the image and to the right.

(Photo: NASA, ESA and  E. Karkoschka) 

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the region around a star known as R Sculptoris, a red giant located 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sculptor. Recent observations have shown that the material surrounding R Sculptoris actually forms a spiral structure — a phenomenon probably caused by a hidden companion star orbiting the star. Systems with multiple stars often lead to unusual or unexpected morphologies, as seen, for example, in the wide range of striking planetary nebulae that Hubble has imaged.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

This image shows the center of the globular cluster Messier 22, also known as M22, as observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Globular clusters are spherical collections of densely packed stars, relics of the early years of the Universe, with ages of typically 12 to 13 billion years. This is very old considering that the Universe is only 13.8 billion years old.

(Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

In a nearby galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud, young stars are spewing radiation that’s eating away at the cloud of gas and dust that gave birth to them not too long ago. This Hubble image, taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows that scene.

The cluster of blue stars, called NGC 602, formed when a large part of the gas cloud collapsed under gravity and became very dense. The fierce radiation now being produced by these hot, young stars is sculpting the inner rim of the gaseous nebula. Parts of the nebula resist this erosion better than others, leaving tall pillars that point toward the source of the radiation — the stars.

(Photo: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) - ESA/Hubble Collaboration ) 

The giant nebula NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of our galaxy, about 20,000 light-years away. Discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834, it is the largest nebula seen in visible light in the Milky Way. Within its core is nestled a stellar “jewel box” of thousands of sparkling young stars, one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy.

(Photo: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team)

This esthetic close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis, interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori's cosmic bow shock, measuring about half a light-year across. The slower gas is flowing away from the Orion Nebula's hot central star cluster, the Trapezium, located off the upper left corner of the picture. In three dimensions, LL Ori's wrap-around shock front is shaped like a bowl that appears brightest when viewed along the "bottom" edge. The beautiful picture is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in Orion, filled with a myriad of fluid shapes associated with star formation. Hand Out Photo by NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team/ABACAPRESS.COM
This image made by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA'S crowning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the farthest and oldest galaxies ever beholden by humanity, no man-made satellite has touched as many minds or hearts as Hubble. (NASA, ESA, HEIC, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) via AP)
An undated handout picture by NASA/ESA shows around 5,500 galaxies seen through the Hubble telescope. The time exposure titled 'Hubble extreme Deep Field' (XDF reveals galaxies up to 13.2 billion light-years from earth. Photo: NASA/ESA/G. Illingworth/D. Magee/P. Oesch/R. Bouwens/HUDF09 Team 
Sun Seasons: Our sun is constantly changing. It goes through cycles of activity - swinging between times of relative calm and times when frequent explosions on its surface can fling light, particles and energy out into space. This activity cycle peaks approximately every 11 years. New research shows evidence of a shorter time cycle as well, with activity waxing and waning over the course of about 330 days. Understanding when to expect such bursts of solar activity is crucial to successfully forecast the sun's eruptions, which can drive solar storms at Earth. These space weather events can interfere with satellite electronics, GPS navigation, and radio communications. The quasi-annual variations in space weather seem to be driven by changes in bands of strong magnetic field that are present in each solar hemisphere, Image Credit: NASA #sun #nasa #solar #solarstorm #science #space
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have assembled a bigger and sharper photograph of the iconic Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation" (right); the original 1995 Hubble image is shown at left. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/J. Hester, P. Scowen (Arizona State U.)
This undated photo supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency shows the Hubble Space Telescope's latest image of the star V838 Monocerotis, located about 20,000 light-years away on the outer edge of the Milky Way, which reveals dramatic changes in the illumination of surrounding dusty cloud structures. The effect, called a light echo, has been unveiling never-before-seen dust patterns ever since the star suddenly brightened for several weeks in early 2002. The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a pulse of light three years ago, somewhat similar to setting off a flashbulb in a darkened room. The dust surrounding V838 may have been ejected from the star during a previous explosion, similar to the 2002 event. The echoing of light through space is similar to the echoing of sound through air. As light from the stellar explosion continues to propagate outwards, different parts of the surrounding dust are illuminated, just as a sound echo bounces off of objects near the source, and later, objects further from the source. Eventually, when light from the back side of the nebula begins to arrive, the light echo will give the illusion of contracting, and finally it will disappear. (AP Photo/NASA-ESA Hubble Team)
This undated photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and released by NASA Monday, May 12, 1997, shows the Orion Nebula, which contains the nearest nursery for massive stars. Photo at left shows a large part of the nebula as it appears in visible light. The infrared selection, right, reveals a chaotic, active star birth region. Here, stars and glowing interstellar dust, heated by and scattering the intense starlight, appear yellow-orange. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA, taken by Hubble Space Telescope on Oct. 28, 2006, shows a shell appearing to float serenely in the depths of space. But this apparent calm hides an inner turmoil. The gaseous envelope formed as the expanding blast wave and ejected material from a supernova tore through the nearby interstellar medium. Called SNR B0509-67.5 (or SNR 0509 for short), the bubble is the visible remnant of a powerful stellar explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160 000 light-years from Earth. (AP Photo/NASA)
This false-color composite image provided by NASA Thursday April 2, 2009 shows the Cartwheel galaxy as seen by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer's Far Ultraviolet detector (blue); the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera-2 in B-band visible light (green); the Spitzer Space Telescope's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) at 8 microns (red); and the Chandra X-ray Observatory's Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer-S array instrument (purple). Approximately 100 million years ago, a smaller galaxy plunged through the heart of Cartwheel galaxy, creating ripples of brief star formation. In this image, the first ripple appears as an ultraviolet-bright blue outer ring. The blue outer ring is so powerful in the GALEX observations that it indicates the Cartwheel is one of the most powerful UV-emitting galaxies in the nearby universe. Although astronomers have not identified exactly which galaxy collided with the Cartwheel, two of three candidate galaxies can be seen in this image to the bottom left of the ring, one as a neon blob and the other as a green spiral. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA this craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. The image celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hubble's launch and deployment into an orbit around Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows stars bursting to life in the chaotic Carina Nebula. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows a celestial object that looks like a delicate butterfly. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows a clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows Gravitational Lensing in Galaxy Cluster Abell 370. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope taken with it's Wide Field Camera 3 on Thursday July 23, 2009 shows the sharpest visible-light picture taken of the impact feature (dark spot) and "backsplash" of material from a small object that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated. The only other time in history such a feature has been seen on Jupiter was in 1994 during the collision of fragments from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. This is a natural color image of Jupiter as seen in visible light. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this April 20, 2011 photo provided by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope captures a group of interacting galaxies called Arp 273. The larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, has a disk that is tidally distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewels across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy. A series of uncommon spiral patterns in the large galaxy is a tell-tale sign of interaction. Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard Discovery's STS-31 mission. (AP Photo/NASA)
This illustration released by NASA depicts a view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy, left, and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda's disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way. The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. The two galaxies collide about 4 billion years from now and merge to form a single galaxy about 6 billion years from now. Astronomers in a Thursday, May 31, 2012, NASA news conference announced that observations from the Hubble Space Telescope detail a long-anticipated galactic smash-up. Astronomers had seen the Andromeda galaxy coming at us, but thought there was a chance that its sideways motion would make it miss or graze the Milky Way. Hubble readings say there's no chance of that.(AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by NASA Tuesday Nov. 11, 2009 shows observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory in a collaboration to produce an unprecedented image of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy using infrared light and X-ray light to see through the obscuring dust and reveal the intense activity near the galactic core. Note that the center of the galaxy is located within the bright white region to the right of and just below the middle of the image. The entire image width covers about one-half a degree, about the same angular width as the full moon. Each telescope's contribution is presented in a different color. Yellow represents the near-infrared observations of Hubble. The observations outline the energetic regions where stars are being born as well as reveal hundreds of thousands of stars. Red represents the infrared observations of Spitzer. The radiation and winds from stars create glowing dust clouds that exhibit complex structures from compact, spherical globules to long, stringy filaments. Blue and violet represent the X-ray observations of Chandra. X-rays are emitted by gas heated to millions of degrees by stellar explosions and by outflows from the supermassive black hole in the galaxy's center. The bright blue blob on the left side is emission from a double star system containing either a neutron star or a black hole. (AP Photo/NASA) When these views are brought together, this composite image provides one of the most detailed views ever of our galaxy's mysterious core.
FILE - This 2003 image from the Hubble telescope, provided by NASA, shows a storm of turbulent gases in the Omega/Swan nebula. (AP Photo/NASA)
FILE - This 2006 composite image provided by NASA shows thousands of stars forming in the cloud of gas and dust known as the Orion nebula, as viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image assembled from 100 different images sent back by the Hubble Space Telescope. The original Hubble pictures are black and white photos, which are then carefully colorized. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image has been released by NASA as the last "pretty" image made by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The image made May 4, 2009 is of the planetary nebula known as Kohoutek 4-55. It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek. A planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a red giant star that were expelled into interstellar space when the star was in the late stages of its life. Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the remaining hot core of the star ionizes the ejected gas shells, causing them to glow. The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 will be replace during the space shuttle mission scheduled to launch Monday May 11, 2009. (AP Photo/NASA)
This 2007 image, released by NASA for the Hubble Space Telescope's 17th anniversary, shows a region of star birth and death in the Carina Nebula looking much like an abstract painting. The nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant stars that are 50 to 100 times the mass of our Sun, according to the NASA description. (AP Photo/NASA)
A photo provided by NASA shows an image made February 24, 2009, by the Hubble Space Telescope of four moons of Saturn passing in front of their parent planet. In this view, the giant orange moon Titan casts a large shadow onto Saturn's north polar hood. Below Titan, near the ring plane and to the left is the moon Mimas, casting a much smaller shadow onto Saturn's equatorial cloud tops. Farther to the left, and off Saturn's disk, are the bright moon Dione and the fainter moon Enceladus. The banded structure in Saturn's atmosphere is similar to Jupiter's. The dark band running across the face of the planet slightly above the rings is the shadow of the rings cast on the planet. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image provided by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the striking details of the famed planetary nebula designated NGC 2818, which lies in the southern constellation of Pyxis (the Compass). The spectacular structure of the planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a star that were expelled into interstellar space. The glowing gaseous shrouds in the nebula were shed by the central star after it ran out of fuel to sustain the nuclear reactions in its core. NGC 2818 is often heralded as one of the Galaxy’s few planetary nebulae to be discovered as a member of an open star cluster. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA Thursday Oct. 2, 2008 shows landscape' image from the cosmos to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's Hubble Heritage Project. Cutting across a nearby star-forming region, called NGC 3324, are the "hills and valleys" of gas and dust displayed in intricate detail. Set amid a backdrop of soft, glowing blue light are wispy tendrils of gas as well as dark trunks of dust that are light-years in height. NGC 3324 is located in the constellation Carina, about 7,200 light-years away from Earth. The abrupt, mysterious failure of the command and data-handling system for Hubble's science instruments Saturday Sept. 28, 2008 means that the telescope is unable to capture and beam down the data needed to produce its stunning deep space images. (AP Photo/NASA)
**EMBARGOED UNTIL 9:00 AM EDT THURS., APRIL 24, 2008** This image made by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by NASA Thursday, April 24, 2008 shows Arp 148, the aftermath of an encounter between two galaxies, resulting in a ring-shaped galaxy and a long-tailed companion. The collision between the two parent galaxies produced a shockwave effect that first drew matter into the center and then caused it to propagate outwards in a ring. The elongated companion perpendicular to the ring suggests that Arp 148 is a unique snapshot of an ongoing collision. Arp 148 is nicknamed “Mayall’s object” and is located in the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, approximately 500 million light-years away. This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on its 18th launch anniversary.(AP Photo/NASA, ESA)
This image provided by NASA Tuesday Oct. 2, 2007 shows a Hubble Space Telescope image of thousands of sparkling young stars nestled within the giant nebula NGC 3603. This stellar "jewel box" is one of the most massive young star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. NGC 3603 is a prominent star-forming region in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way, about 20,000 light-years away. This latest image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows a young star cluster surrounded by a vast region of dust and gas. The image reveals stages in the life cycle of stars. AP Photo/NASA)
Astronomers using the W.M. Keck Observatory on the Big Island in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope to study disks of debris around stars have found one that is extremely lopsided. This Hubble image provided by NASA/ESA/UC Berkeley, shows a lopsided disk looking like a "blue needle" extending from its star, known as HD 15115. About 100 other stars are known to have discs, but the blue needle is more asymmetrical than any of its neighbors. It's unclear why the disc is so needlelike, but astronomers speculate that a smaller star is pulling matter in its direction. The gray ball in the center of the photo, as well as the oval black mass at left, were artificially produced by the telescope. (AP Photo/NASA/ESA/UC Berkeley)
This photo, supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency on Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, shows Pismis 24-1, a bright young star that lies in the core of the small open star cluster Pismis 24, the bright stars in this Hubble Space Telescope image. It was one of the top candidates for the title of Milky Way stellar heavyweight champion until very recently, Pismis 24-1, about 8,000 light-years away from Earth, was thought to have an incredibly large mass of 200 to 300 solar masses. but new NASA/ESA Hubble measurements of the star, have discovered that Pismis 24-1 is actually two separate stars, and, in doing so, have halved its mass to around 100 solar masses.The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357 that extends on the arm of the Sagittarius constellation. The results of the lastest observations was reported to the Massive Stars Workshop in Argentina this month, December 2006.(AP Photo/NASA/ESA)
In this Hubble Space Telescope image released by the European Space Agency and NASA on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006, Messier 101, the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of grand design spirals, and its super-giant star-forming regions are shown in unprecedented detail. The image of M101 is the largest and most detailed photo of a face-on spiral galaxy ever released.The giant disk of stars, dust and gas is 170,000 light-years across or nearly twice the diameter of our Milky Way. The galaxy lies in the northern circumpolar constellation, Ursa Major (The Great Bear) at a distance of 25 million light years from Earth. (AP Photo/European Space Agency/NASA)
This image provided by NASA shows the light echo around the variable star V838 Monocerotis taken by the Hubble Space Telescope released Saturday Oct. 27, 2006. The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis continues to puzzle astronomers. This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600 000 times more luminous than our Sun. Signs are promising for a repair of the aging but popular Hubble Space Telescope, once thought doomed because of worries over astronaut safety. The decision rests with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who hasn't yet made up his mind, NASA spokesman Dean Acosta said Friday in an e-mail. An announcement on the decision is expected Tuesday. (AP PHoto/NASA)
This photo taken by the Hubble Space telescope and released by NASA shows the planet Pluto, center, with its two newly named moons, from far right, Hydra and Nix, respectively. Pluto's other moon, Charon, is seen closest to Pluto. (AP Photo/NASA)
During the 15 years that the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, it has taken three-quarters of a million photos of the cosmos - images that have awed, astounded and even confounded astronomers and the public alike. On Monday April 25, 2005, NASA and ESA released new views of two of the most well-known images Hubble has ever taken: the Eagle Nebula, and spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. The images, among the largest and sharpest views Hubble has ever taken, were made with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The two new images are so incredibly sharp they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain all of their stunning details. Scientists used the newer ACS camera to revisit one region of the eerie-looking Eagle Nebula, producing a new image with stunning detail. The image reveals a tall, dense tower of gas being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars. The new Whirlpool Galaxy image showcases the spiral galaxy's classic features, from its curving arms, where newborn stars reside, to its yellowish central core that serves as home for older stars. The soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers high, about twice the distance from our Sun to the next nearest star. A torrent of ultraviolet light from a band of massive, hot, young stars [near the top] is eroding the pillar. The dominant colors in the image were produced by gas energized by the star cluster's powerful ultraviolet light. The blue color at the top is from glowing oxygen. The red color in the lower region is from glowing hydrogen. The Eagle Nebula image was taken in November 2004 .(AP Photo/ NASA, ESA)
This is a unique view of the disk galaxy NGC5866 provided by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Thursday June 8, 2006. NGC5866 tilted nearly edge-on to our line-of-sight. Hubble's sharp vision reveals a crisp dust lane dividing the galaxy into two halves. The image highlights the galaxy's structure: a subtle, reddish bulge surrounding a bright nucleus, a blue disk of stars running parallel to the dust lane, and a transparent outer halo. Viewed face on, it would look like a smooth, flat disk with little spiral structure. It remains in the spiral category because of the flatness of the main disk of stars as opposed to the more spherically rotund (or ellipsoidal) class of galaxies called "ellipticals." NGC 5866 lies in the Northern constellation Draco, at a distance of 44 million light-years. It has a diameter of roughly 60,000 light-years only two-thirds the diameter of the Milky Way, although its mass is similar to our galaxy. This Hubble image of NGC 5866 is a combination of blue, green and red observations taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys in February 2006. (AP Photo/NASA)
In this image provided by NASA Tuesday Sept. 13, 2005 the Hubble Space Telescope "caught" the Boomerang Nebula in these new images taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys. This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes (or cones) of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Over the last 1,500 years, nearly one and a half times the mass of our Sun has been lost by the central star of the Boomerang Nebula in an ejection process known as a bipolar outflow. The nebula's name is derived from its symmetric structure as seen from ground-based telescopes. Hubble's sharp view is able to resolve patterns and ripples in the nebula very close to the central star that are not visible from the ground.
In this image released Thursday July 1, 2004, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures the iridescent tapestry of star birth in a neighboring galaxy in this panoramic view of glowing gas, dark dust clouds, and young, hot stars. The star-forming region, catalogued as N11B, lies in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), located only 160,000 light-years from Earth.(AP Photo/NASA)
Resembling a rippling pool illuminated by underwater lights, the Egg Nebula offers astronomers a special look at the normally invisible dust shells swaddling an aging star in this image made by the Hubble Space Telescope and released Saturday April 5, 2003. These dust layers, extending over one-tenth of a light-year from the star, have an onionskin structure that forms concentric rings around the star. A thicker dust belt, running almost vertically through the image, blocks off light from the central star. Twin beams of light radiate from the hidden star and illuminate the pitch-black dust, like a flashlight shining in a smoky room. (AP Photo/NASA)
Resembling the fury of a raging sea, this image actually shows a bubbly ocean of glowing hydrogen gas and small amounts of other elements such as oxygen and sulfur. The photograph, taken, May 29-30, 1999 and released April 24, 2003 by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, captures a small region within M17, a hotbed of star formation. M17, also known as the Omega or Swan Nebula, is located about 5,500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. The image is being released to commemorate the thirteenth anniversary of Hubble's launch on April 24, 1990. The image, roughly 3 light-years across with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The colors in the image represent various gases. Red represents sulfur; green, hydrogen; and blue, oxygen. (AP Photo/NASA)
The delicate filaments are actually sheets of debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy resemble the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display in this image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope released Friday July 4, 2003. Hubble's target was a supernova remnant, denoted LMC N 49, within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby, small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars in the LMC. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago. (AP Photo/NASA)
This image is a snapshot from a movie that shows dynamic rings, wisps and jets of matter and antimatter around the pulsar in the Crab Nebula as observed in X-ray light by Chandra in 2001. By combining a series of still images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers created a short video sequence that gives movement to gas and other matter churning from the Crab. (AP PHOTO/NASA ho)
Planetary nebula IC 418, known as the Spirograph Nebula, located 2,000 light years from Earth, is seen in this photo from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A planetary nebula is the final stage of the evolution of a star similar to the sun. The Hubble image is shown in a false-color representation, based on exposures taken in February and September 1999 through filters that isolate light from various chemical elements. Red represents ionized nitrogen, green - hydrogen and blue - ionized oxygen. (AP Photo/NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team, Dr. Raghvendra Sahai and Dr. Arsen R. Hajian)
This undated image released Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1998, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the small spiral galaxy NGC 7742. It is known to be a Seyfert 2 active galaxy, a type of galaxy that is probably powered by a black hole residing in its core. The core is the large yellow portion in the center of the image. The lumpy, thick ring around the core is an area of active starbirth. The ring is about 3,000 light-years from the core. (AP Photo/Hubble Heritage Team)
NASA photo released Wednesday Dec. 17, 1997, taken by the Hubble Space telescope Aug. 2, 1997, shows the Twin Jet Nebula. If the nebula is sliced across the star, each side of it appears much like a pair of exhausts from jet engines. The nebula is 2,100 light-years away in the constellation Ophiucus with neutral oxygen in red, once-ionized nitrogen in green, and twice-ionized oxygen in blue. (AP Photo/NASA)
Photo released by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing a spiral galaxy 161 million light-years from earth. The image, taken with the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, shows the spiral galaxy from face-on. Red corresponds to glowing hydrogen, red knots outline curving spiral arms, pinpoint rich star-forming regions where the surrounding hydrogen gas is heated by intense ultraviolet radiation from young massive stars. (AP Photo/NASA)
Photo released by NASA Tuesday Oct. 21, 1997, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope Jan. 20, 1996 shows a detailed look at a "fireworks show" at the center of a collision between two galaxies. Left, ground base telescope view of the Antannae galaxies. The galaxies are located 63 million light-years away in the southern constellation Corvus. Right, cores of the twin galaxies are the orange blobs, left and right of image center, crisscrossed by filaments of dark dust. The sweeping spiral-like patterns, traced by bright blue clusters, show the result of a firestorm of star birth activity which was triggered by the collision. This natural-color image is a composite of four separately filtered images. (AP Photo/NASA)
These photos released by NASA Monday, Nov. 25, 1996, taken Oct. 16-17, 1994, by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, show a galaxy, left, that looks like a wagon wheel, and a close-up image, right, of the galaxy's comet-like knots of gas. The galaxy's nucleus is the bright object in the center; the spoke-like structures are wisps of material connecting the nucleus to the outer ring of young stars. The knots are confined to the core's left side and appear as white streaks inside the blue ring. The "heads" are a few hundred light-years across; the tails are more than 1,000 light-years long. (AP Photo/NASA)
A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" appear in the "Hourglass" region of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) 5,000 light years from earth in the region of the constellation Sagittarius in this Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1997. The bright light at lower right in the image is the central hot star O Herschel 36. This is a color coded image from combined exposures taken in July and Sept. 1995 through three narrow band filters. The region is studied by astronomers to learn more about the birth of stars and the interaction between stellar winds and nearby gas. (AP Photo / NASA/JPL)
A pair of one-half light-year long interstellar "twisters" appear in the "Hourglass" region of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) 5,000 light years from earth in the region of the constellation Sagittarius in this Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1997. The bright light at upper left in the image is the central hot star O Herschel 36. This is a color coded image from combined exposures taken in July and Sept. 1995 through three narrow band filters. The region is studied by astronomers to learn more about the birth of stars and the interaction between stellar winds and nearby gas.The ionizing radiation induces photo-evaporation of the surfaces of the clouds (seen as a blue mist at the right of the image) and drives away violent stellar winds tearing into the cool clouds analagous to terrestrial tornadoes. (AP Photo / NASA/JPL)
The Hubble Space Telescope has returned this picture of these wraithlike formations 450 light years away and is on a search for more. These gigantic, tadpole-shaped objects are probably the result of a dying star's last gasps. Dubbed ``cometary knots'' because their glowing heads and gossamer tails resemble comets. (AP Photo/NASA/Rice University, C. Robert O'Dell and Kerry P. Handron)
FILE - This composite file photo released by NASA Nov. 2, 1995, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on April 1, 1995, shows dark pillar-like structures which are actually columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust and also incubators of new stars in the Eagle Nebula. The color image is constructed from three separate images taken in the light from different types of atoms. Red shows emission from sulfur atoms, green from hydrogen, and blue from oxygen, according to NASA, which calls the photo Pillars of Creation. (AP Photo/NASA, File)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the famous Pillars of Creation, revealing a sharper and wider view of the structures in this visible-light image. Astronomers combined several Hubble exposures to assemble the wider view. The towering pillars about are 5 light-years tall. The new image was taken with Hubble's versatile and sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3. The pillars are bathed in blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation. Stars are being born deep inside the pillars, which are made of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. The pillars are part of a small region of the Eagle Nebula, a vast star-forming region 6,500 light-years from Earth. The colors in the image highlight emission from several chemical elements. Oxygen emission is blue, sulfur is orange, and hydrogen and nitrogen are green. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) #nasagoddard #space #Hubble #hd

The next big meteor shower of the year will be the Perseids, July 13 to August 26. For a full list of this year's showers, check out the American Meteor Society. Also check out NASA's Space Environments and Effects Program, which predicts the risk to orbiting satellites from meteor showers like the Lyrids.

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