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Just as the flowers have now blossomed, the skies are also in full bloom this spring. This month of April is abundant in astronomical events that are worthy of celebration like the sakura.

Two of these astronomical events have already passed (both occurred on April 1), but there are still eight more to look forward to. Without further ado, here are the nighttime sky phenomena you have to watch out for:

April 6 – Leo the Lion’s Heart Gets Up Close and Personal With the Moon

On the night of the sixth, the heart of the constellation Leo (called Regulus), will only be one degree away from Luna. To best see the blue-white heart of the lion and its closeness with the moon, cover the moon’s disc with your thumb. That way, the glare is cut off and you will better see the distinctive reverse question mark sign of Leo’s front.

April 7 – Jupiter Lights Up the Sky

Just a day after the gibbous moon passes by Leo’s heart, Jupiter will light up the sky with its celestial brightness. This is because Jupiter will be sitting exactly opposite of the sun, letting it bask in the solar light. Thanks to that, the planet will be at its brightest and largest for the year on April 7.

April 10 – Luna Joins Jupiter

Two nights after this, Jupiter will also have another moment as its moons will cast large shadows on its face. However, that is not the last sky event that features the planetary version of the supreme god of Rome. On April 10, the planet will continue to reign in the night sky as a full moon graces the heavens with it. At the same time, the two celestial bodies will also edge closer to Spica. This makes three astronomical events for Jupiter this April.

April 16 – Moon Glides By Saturn

For those who have difficulty spotting Saturn in the sky, watch out for this astronomical event as the moon will help you out. However, this will happen in the wee hours of morning just before dawn, so you either have to stay up later or wake up really early in time for this to happen.

But for patient stargazers armed with even the smallest telescope, Saturn will show off its rings. On top of that, it might even offer a glimpse of its moons.

April 22 – Mars Guides the Eye to Pleiades

The Red Planet will begin its descent in the western sky as early as April 17. Thanks to its movement, it will draw close to the cluster of stars called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. But the peak of this celestial event will be on the 22nd when they align close to each other at the same spot in the sky.

April 22 – Lyrid Meteor Shower Peak

Although the Lyrid meteor shower is active annually for a week or so around April 16 – 25, this year the astronomical event will peak on the morning of April 22. So if you want to catch the short bursts of falling stars, you have to stay up late on the night of the 21st. And if you want to see the bulk of the shower, you have to keep your eyes peeled until a few hours before sun-up. Fortunately, the waning crescent moon will not rain on the meteors’ parade.

Lyrid Shower

Lyrid Shower- credit: NASA/ MSFC/ Danielle Moser.

April 23 – Venus Sidles Beside Luna

Venus the Morning Star will align beside the moon in the early morning of April 23. Stargazers are advised to use binoculars to better see Venus and the moon hang in the sky beside each other. Also, the best time for this would be 45 minutes before the sun goes up.

April 28 – Aldebaran and the Moon Meet Again

Aldebaran and the moon will cozy up with each other for the second time in April on the 28th (the first time was on the 1st). Taurus’ brightest star and the earth’s satellite next encounter will bring them much closer to each other. At this point, they will only be half a degree apart from each other.

That’s not all, though. There is an astronomical event called lunar occultation, when Aldebaran goes behind the moon, that lucky stargazers in Europe, North America, and North Africa will witness. Times vary across continents so you have to check out this table to find out what time you should peep at the sky.

So, which one of these astronomical events are you most excited for?

Archaeology and anthropology consume my life, but hey! I like to read and write about tech, science, and geeky stuff too.

Astronomy

Prepare an ample supply of food, water, and fuel in anticipation of the upcoming total solar eclipse

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The Lorain County Emergency Management (EMA) in Ohio has advised individuals observing the eclipse and residents within the path of totality to ensure they have an ample supply of food, water, and fuel in preparation for the total eclipse on April 8. This recommendation is due to the anticipated increase in visits to the area.

According to those who saw it, the most recent total solar eclipse across the United States was remarkably impressive. It is challenging to imagine any improvements to the scene by the time Monday arrived after looking at the photographs.

However, if we are fortunate and the weather conditions are favorable, we may see something extraordinary since the eclipse aligns with the period of maximum solar activity, and there is a possibility of observing Baily’s beads.

“During the year 2017, the Sun was approaching a period of solar minimum.” Observers of the complete solar eclipse were able to witness the awe-inspiring corona. However, due to the Sun’s lack of activity, the streamers that extended into the solar atmosphere were limited to only the equatorial regions of the star. NASA states that during solar minimum, the Sun exhibits greater magnetic symmetry, resulting in a simpler look.

“During the 2024 eclipse, the Sun will be in or close to solar maximum, a period characterized by a magnetic field that resembles a complex and chaotic structure, similar to a tangled hairball.” It is probable that streamers will be observable throughout the corona. Furthermore, spectators will have an enhanced opportunity to observe prominences, which manifest as vivid, pink spirals or arcs emanating from the Sun.

The eclipse will be visible throughout the whole stretch of land from Mexico to Canada. The path of totality, where a total solar eclipse is visible, is broader in comparison to 2017. This is because the Moon is in closer proximity to Earth as a result of its position in its orbit. Consequently, a larger number of individuals will have the opportunity to observe the Sun’s corona.

NASA stated that there is a possibility of observing a coronal mass ejection, which is a significant release of solar material, if the timing is fortunate during the eclipse.

However, safety considerations usually arise with eclipses. Following the recent eclipse, there was a notable increase in Google queries pertaining to the consequences of directly gazing at the Sun.

Additionally, there are logistical challenges arising from a significant surge in travelers seeking to witness the celestial phenomenon. As a result, the regions situated along the path of totality are presently making preparations to accommodate this rush. Last month, Lorain County officials issued a warning about the potential consequences of the upcoming eclipse. They cautioned that there may be a surge in traffic, longer wait times for facilities like hospitals and gas stations, and challenges in obtaining food and other essential supplies.

According to USA Today, Dave Freeman, the director of Lorain County EMA, “We may experience an influx of unfamiliar crowds.” “Our current infrastructure lacks the necessary road network to support that.”

“Many of the roads in this area consist of two lanes,” Freeman stated, according to Yahoo News. “Unlike cities such as Chicago and Cleveland, our city does not have a large number of wide roads with multiple lanes. As a result, if we experience larger crowds than anticipated, the traffic situation here could become quite severe.”

The EMA is cautioning that the surge of cell phone use in the vicinity may lead to signal loss when the system becomes overwhelmed. The team advises homeowners to proactively fill their vehicles with gasoline, ensure an ample supply of food, and minimize unnecessary travel throughout the next weekend preceding the eclipse.

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It is crucial that you direct your attention towards the eclipse and derive pleasure from it. However, it is imperative that you take precautions to protect your eyes from harm. To do so, please refer to our informative manual on how to properly observe eclipses. If the weather remains unclouded, you may also utilize this guide on how to capture the approaching eclipse in the most optimal manner.

 

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Astronomy

The construction of the world’s largest digital camera has been finished

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The construction of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera has been finished. In the near future, it will be transported to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, where it will serve as a remarkable new tool for observing the southern sky. Its purpose is to assist us in gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamental properties of dark matter and dark energy.

The LSST camera is an impressive technological achievement. The device has a resolution of 3,200 megapixels and a weight of 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds). The camera produces images of such immense size that it would require a grid of 378 4K ultra-high-definition televisions to display them accurately. What an extraordinary device!

“The LSST Camera at SLAC has been completed and will soon be integrated with the rest of the Rubin Observatory systems in Chile. This will enable us to produce the most remarkable movie and the most comprehensive map of the night sky ever created,” stated Željko Ivezić, Director of Rubin Observatory Construction and professor at the University of Washington.

There are two lenses on the camera itself. It is the largest lens ever made for this reason. The first one is 1.5 meters (5 feet) across. The second one is also pretty big. It’s 90 centimeters (3 feet) wide. Both were made just for you, and the second one is used to keep the focal plane of the lens vacuum-sealed.

The focus plane is what makes the camera work. It’s made up of 201 CCD sensors, which are like the ones in a regular digital camera but are not the same. The focus plane is so flat that its surface doesn’t change more than a tenth of the width of a human hair. Each pixel is 10 microns wide.

All together, you have a new idea.

“Its pictures are so clear that it could see a golf ball from about 15 miles away or 25 kilometers away, and they cover an area seven times bigger than the full moon.” “These pictures of billions of galaxies and stars will help us figure out what the universe is all about,” said Aaron Roodman, a professor at SLAC and the deputy director and camera program lead at the Rubin Observatory.

The Rubin Observatory will look into how galaxies and groups of galaxies have changed over billions of years. This will help us understand how galaxies change over time and where dark matter is distributed. It will measure supernovae, which will help us understand how the universe is expanding and why it is expanding: dark energy. We will learn more about the solar system by finding rocks that have never been seen before.

In January 2025, the telescope should see its first light.

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Astronomy

What’s the Difference Between FDA Cleared and FDA Approved?

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays one of the most important roles in public health in the United States. It oversees many everyday items that people use. You might hear the terms “cleared” or “approved” used to describe these goods, but what do they really mean? Is one different from the other?

There are a lot of different things that the FDA can clear or approve, from certain foods and cosmetics (though they don’t actually accept cosmetics) to drugs and biologics like vaccines. It might not seem like a big deal if a product is cleared or accepted, but they are actually two different things.

Which method is needed also depends on the product. For example, all new drugs and biologics for humans need to be approved. The process that medical devices go through is based on how dangerous they might be. There are three groups of medical devices based on their level of risk: category 3 devices usually need approval, category 2 devices usually need clearance, and category 1 devices usually don’t need either.

FDA okayed
Getting FDA clearance normally takes the least amount of time—within 90 days of submission, at the very least—because it doesn’t require as many tests as getting approval. Companies don’t have to prove that their product is safe and effective; instead, they have to show that it is “substantially equivalent” to a product that has already been cleared or passed.

The act of clearance
Imagine that you are the inventor of a brand-new medical gadget. You can come up with anything crazy or dull. If it’s not too risky, you won’t need permission. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill out an application called a 510(k), also known as a premarket notification. The different parts of this application “must compare their device to one or more similar legally marketed devices and make and support their substantial equivalence claims.”
  2. The FDA looks over the application and tries to make a choice within 90 days.
  3. The product is cleared to be sold in the US if it is found to be as safe and useful as the device it is being compared to.

Approved by FDA
Manufacturers must get “premarket approval” for high-risk (Class III) medical equipment, new drugs and biologics for humans, and other products. This is a much longer and stricter process.

“A company must demonstrate that its drug or biological product is safe and effective for the intended use and that it can manufacture the product to federal quality standards,” says the FDA.

When a product is approved, it means that the FDA is happy with its safety and effectiveness (how well it does what it’s supposed to do).

The process of approval
Let’s say you’ve come up with a new drug this time (of the pharmaceutical kind, of course). At this point, you should have done a lot of testing in the lab and on animals over the past few years, though the animal testing might not last much longer.

Then it’s time to get the first FDA approval through the Investigational New Drug process. This means sending in the results of your studies so far, along with information about any side effects seen in animals and how you plan to run the human trials.

If it’s okay, you can go straight to clinical studies. Following the data showing that the drug is safe and successful for its intended use, the next step is to submit a New Drug Application (NDA).

  1. Send in the application. The FDA says that this must include all the information about a drug, from proof that it is safe and effective in all testing steps to how it should be labeled.
  2. The FDA looks at the proof; if the entry is missing something, it won’t be sent in. The agency checks to see if the drug is safe and effective for its intended use, if the benefits are greater than the risks, and if the labeling and production process are correct.
  3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes a choice after 6 to 10 months. If there is enough evidence, the drug can be sold in the US.
  4. The FDA will keep an eye on the drug after it’s on the market because there’s only so much safety information that can be gathered before it’s approved.

That’s a pretty long process, but there are times when it can be sped up. For example, the Accelerated Approval and Fast Track programs can speed up the process for products that can treat dangerous or life-threatening diseases.

Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) can be given when “among other criteria, there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives” based on the best evidence that is currently available. This was the case for some COVID-19 vaccines, and it is not the same as getting FDA clearance. The FDA says that these can be taken away or changed based on further review of the existing data.

What makes them different?
It’s helpful to know more about the clearance and approval processes in order to understand how regulated goods get to the market, but here are the three most important differences:

  • Sometimes it takes a lot longer to get approval than to get clearance.
  • Based on the type of product, some items need to be approved, while others can be cleared right away.
  • Level of scrutiny: For clearance, a product must be similar to one that already exists, but for acceptance, it must have evidence to back it up for years.

 

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