April 26, 2013
Saturn To Shine Bright This Weekend – The Daily Orbit
The darkness precedes the light…ooohhh!
Fist-clenching for memory.
Pedaling for power for your phone.
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
It’s show time Orbiters! Get out your telescopes and get ready to see Saturn shine. The ringed planet will be making its closest approach to Earth this weekend, looking its biggest and brightest for 2013. And look again on Sunday night – that’s when Saturn will be at its closest – about 1.3 billion km away. Just point your telescope toward the constellation Virgo, and Saturn will be near the bright star Spica. According to NASA, Saturn’s North Pole is now tilted towards the Earth, giving us the best view of the rings since 2006. Astronomers say if it’s a cloudy night don’t worry, Saturn will be a golden jewel in the midnight sky for weeks to come. They added “Observers who see Saturn for the first time through the eyepiece of a telescope often gasp!” Don’t have a telescope? Not to worry! Slooh won’t leave you hanging. The space camera will begin coverage on Sunday at 9:30 pm eastern time.
Looks like Saturn’s the star of the week – even though it’s a planet. Saturn is making other science headlines today with new images from Cassini providing the first direct evidence of small meteoroids crashing into Saturn’s rings. The meteoroids are estimated to have ranged from about a half-inch to several yards in size. These observations make Saturn’s rings the only location besides Earth, the moon and Jupiter where scientists and amateur astronomers have been able to observe impacts as they occur. Scientists had thought these impacts happen all the time but they weren’t sure how often and say they help them understand how different planetary systems in our Solar System formed.
Dark lightning might sound like an oxymoron but it is a real phenomenon and now researchers say it’s related to its visible lightning counterpart. Dark lighting, first detected in 1991, occurs deep within a thunderhead and is responsible for producing a powerful burst of radio waves and gamma rays. Now scientists believe that both dark and visible lightning are intrinsic processes in the discharge of all lightning. Data from two satellites that happened upon a storm at the same time showed that a strong electric field developed immediately before the visible lightning, creating a surge of electrons moving at almost the speed of light which collided with surrounding air molecules. This released a burst of gamma rays and lower energy electrons typical of dark lightning. They plan to further study the phenomenon. That makes me think of “oohhhh white lightning.”
Can’t put a name to that face? Clench your fist! New research was able to show that clenching the right hand before memorizing and clenching the left before recall led to higher performance in a memory test. Researchers said “the findings suggest that some simple body movements-by temporarily changing the way the brain functions—can improve memory.” But they said, put it to the test for yourself! Always losing your car in the parking garage? Clench the right fist when you park and the left when you want to find your car. Let me know how that works out!
Are you a cyclist with a smartphone? What do you do when it goes dead on the road? Meet the Siva Cycle Atom, a bicycle-powered generator for your phone. It uses a turning wheel to capture energy and store it for later in a removable, 1300 milliampere hour waterproof battery pack. Remove the Atom battery pack and charge your phone! Then plug it back in as you pedal and gather more energy. And it’s not just for your phone. It can charge nearly anything that has a USB port like your GPS. And the faster you pedal the more energy produced! At 3 mph, the Atom delivers .75 watts. It can take a plumb dead iPhone to 70% in a single pass. Using Kickstarter, the team has over 600 backers and has raised over $60,000 dollars towards their $85,000 dollar goal. We’re routing for you Siva Cycle!
Well, that’s it for your Daily Orbit. Now who was I supposed to brunch with this weekend.