Super blue blood moon: What is that?


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A super blood moon shines over France in 2018. (Falcon Photography/flickr)

Jenna Ladd | January 31, 2018

People around the U.S. observed a very rare phenomenon in the Earth’s skies this morning. Well, actually, three phenomenon.

A super blue blood moon was easily seen by people in the Midwest between about 6 am and 8 am. Even if you did wake early enough to see this peculiar lunar event, you may be wondering what all this moon talk means. Let’s start with the word “super.” Super moons are when the moon appears especially large in the night sky, owing to the fact that it is at its closet point to earth. During this time, the moon can appear to be 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger. “Blue moon” is simply another name for the second full moon within a calendar month.

And “blood moon?” This name refers to the reddish color that the moon has when there is a total lunar eclipse, or the moon passes through Earth’s shadow and all of the sun’s light is blocked from illuminating it.

The total lunar eclipse began giving the moon a reddish tint at around 6:51 am and was no longer visible by 8:07 am in Des Moines. Those in the western part of the country were able to enjoy the eclipse for longer, as the moon remained above the horizon for more time. People in the eastern U.S. did not get to see the event, as the moon went below the horizon before it began in that part of the country.

Did you forget to look up this morning? Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until January 31, 2037 to see these three characteristics all in one moon.

Environmental film festival benefits Indian Creek Nature Center


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The shrinking of the Bears Ears monument in Utah is just one example of the Trump administration rolling back public land protections. (Jeffrey Sullivan/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | January 26, 2018

A sold out environmental film festival is set to take place at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City this evening.

The Backcountry Film Festival is hosting a screening in the new brewery as a part of its international tour. Founded by the Winter Wildlands Alliance, the film festival seeks to promote participation in human-powered snow sports on public lands. The festival collaborates with nonprofit organizations worldwide to raise funds for environmental causes. The Indian Creek Nature Center of Cedar Rapids will be the beneficiary of this event.

Lindsey Flannery is the marketing and development manager for Indian Creek Nature Center. She said, “[The festival] directly connects to our mission. This film festival encourages others to be outside, and that’s important to us,” according to the Daily Iowan.

The screening includes eight films featuring people enjoying winter sports on public lands and comes as public land agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service are facing extreme budget cuts.

Keili Bell is the director and producer of the festival. She said, “There has been a lot of national funding cuts to a lot of budgets that actually help a lot local environmental programs. [The festival] has gained a lot of public interest from people all over the world because we can share what is happening to public policy and environmental programs.”

All proceeds from ticket sales and raffle entries will go directly to the Indian Creek Nature Center.

A scientific explanation for why your phone dies when it’s cold outside


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iPhone 5 (Philip Brookes/ flickr)
Kasey Dresser | January 24, 2018

Your phone uses rechargeable batteries called lithium-ion batteries. When your phone is on, the electric current moves from the top-half of the battery, the anode, to the bottom, the cathode. When your battery is dead all of the ions are in the cathode and at full capacity, the ions are all embedded in the anode. Scientists believe that battery runs slower in the winter because the cold creates slow reactions. The ions are having trouble jumping back and forth from the cathode to the anode and the phone interprets the lack of discharge as the phone being dead. Therefore causing it to shutdown sooner.

 

California Wildfires


Kasey Dresser | January 5, 2018

Hello everybody!

I’m Kasey and I’m a student at the University of Iowa. I’m currently visiting home during winter break in beautiful San Diego, California. And as I’m sure you seen on the news I came home after an extremely destructive fire season.  Luckily I live closer to the coast so my home was not affected but my grandma and several of my friends were evacuated.  All of the local high schools, including my sisters, were closed. Last weekend, My dad and I headed inland to film the damage.

 

Sustainability volunteers needed for University of Iowa Dance Marathon


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Recycle (Erin’s Rainbow, flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 22,  2017

Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropy dedicated to supporting oncology patients being treated at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It is a year-round fundraising  organization that culminates with a 24 hour long big event in February.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with recycling, food waste, and more. The event is February 3rd- 4th.

For questions contact David Strabala, DM operations coordinator or Michael Marchione DM volunteer coordinator.

Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c49a5ae2caafb6-dance15

A rise in Bitcoin’s value could lead to an energy crisis


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m00n (John Smith/ flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 13,  2017

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency or “digital wallet.” It is used like regular money to transfer funds and generate currency but without a central bank. Over the last week, Bitcoin’s value has gone from less than $1,000 to $17,000. 1 Bitcoin is currently equal to 17,793 U.S. dollars. The money was originally viewed as “dirty,” being used for black market items. However this recent surge has sparked interest from mainline investors and bitcoin is looking to be worth millions more in the next month.

Bitcoin is run through data mines which are essentially large rooms of computers running an algorithm to code each transaction. The problem is the 32 terawatts of energy bitcoin will use every year. That much energy has the ability to power 3 million U.S. households; compared to Visa transactions, that only uses enough energy to power 50,000 American homes. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, bitcoin could use enough energy to power all of the U.S. by 2019.

More than half of the Bitcoin “mining pools” are run out of China. Most the energy produced in China comes from coal firepower plants which has the potential to increase smog and pollution in the near by areas. 

Gov. Brown declares state of emergency in California


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Wildfire (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ Flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 8,  2017

While it is continuing to get colder in Iowa, California is having the exact opposite problem. On December 5th, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Southern California. Fires are currently burning in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. More than 200,000 residents from Los Angeles and Venture counties are currently being evacuated from their homes. So far this fire season over 400 homes have been damaged. The fires are approximated to be about 20% contained as of a report from 5pm yesterday. Firefighters and police are working hard but out of state help is still being called in.

The biggest concern is the wind, known by locals as the Santa Anas. The wind is fast, dry, and making it nearly impossible to control the fires. It can blow anywhere from 50 to 110mph. Chief Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said, “Stopping a fire when wind is 50, 60, 70 miles per hour is almost not possible. These fires burn into anything that’s in their path. A wind-driven fire is like a freight train, and stopping a freight train on a dime doesn’t happen.”

Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation?donprodid=prod60003

Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmy-socal.org

Thomas Fire Fund: http://vcunitedway.org