SCI Blog

At the Science Center of Iowa, our goal is to be a quality community resource for informal science learning where children, families, school groups and individuals of all ages come to explore science and technology.

To continue the learning outside our building, we bring you the SCI blog! Our knowledgeable staff, along with special guests and local scientists, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at SCI activities, in-depth information about science events and STEM connections in the Des Moines area.

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  • Stargazing for Earlybirds!

    Earlybirds: This stargazing tip is for you!

    In the wee hours of tomorrow morning (at 5:45 am, to be exact), the Moon will be at its closest to Earth for the rest of the year. This Super Full Moon is the last in a series of four supermoons from February through May. (Next year's closest and largest full moon is on May 26, 2021, so mark your calendar's now!)

    BONUS: At twilight (around 3:58 am), the three planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will appear in the southeastern sky. Jupiter will be brightest, then Mars then Saturn.

    Learn more at EarthSky.org

  • "Paint" your own Lightsaber

    May the Fourth be with you!

    What do you think this is a picture of? It could be a light painting created by Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Mace Windu.

    "Light paintings" can be made with an object that emits light - such as a lightsaber, sparkler or flashlight - and the long-exposure setting on a camera.

    Long exposure photography refers to taking a picture with the camera's shutter remaining open for a longer time letting more light in. This leads to a "light trace" of the illuminated object as it moves around. The slower the shutter speed, the more time you have to paint with your light-brush.

    If you have a handheld camera, you can adjust the shutter speed in the settings. If you are taking pictures with a mobile device, there are many apps that you can use. Slow Camera is a free iOS app that offers slow shutter control. Android apps, such as Camera FV-5 Lite, allow you to control various camera settings, including shutter speed.

    If these three Jedi were swinging their sabers through the air while the camera's shutter was kept open, the light coming from them would act like a paintbrush.

    What kind of art can you make with light? Experiment with different colors of light and length of exposure.

    (Bonus points if you know which colors were painted by which Jedi!)