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String of satellites baffles residents, bugs astronomers

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A string of lights that lobbed across the night sky in parts of the United States over three nights earlier this week had callers frantically calling TV stations from Texas to Wisconsin and speculating that a fleet of UFOs was coming

PHILADELPHIA — A string of lights that lobbed across the night sky in parts of the U.S. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday had some people wondering if a fleet of UFOs was coming, but it had others— mostly amateur stargazers and professional astronomers— lamenting the industrialization of space.

The train of lights was actually a series of relatively low-flying satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX as part of its Starlink internet service earlier this week. Callers swamped TV stations from Texas to Wisconsin reporting the lights and musing about UFOs.

An email to a spokesman for SpaceX was not returned Saturday, but astronomy experts said the number of lights in quick succession and their distance from Earth made them easily identifiable as Starlink satellites for those who are used to seeing them.

“The way you can tell they are Starlink satellites is they are like a string of pearls, these lights travelling in the same basic orbit, one right after the other,” said Dr. Richard Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society.

Fienberg said the satellites that are being launched in large groups called constellations string together when they orbit, especially right after launching. The strings get smaller as time goes on.

This month, SpaceX has already launched dozens of satellites. It is all part of a plan to bridge the digital divide and bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, with SpaceX tentatively scheduled to launch another 120 satellites later in the month. Overall, the company has sent about 1,500 satellites into orbit and has asked for permission to launch thousands more.

But prior to recent years, there were maybe a few hundred satellites total orbiting Earth, mostly visible as individual lights moving across the sky, Fienberg said. The other handful of companies that are planning to or have launched the satellite constellations have not launched recently and largely pushed them into orbit at a farther distance from Earth, he said.

Fienberg’s group as well as others that represent both professional and amateur stargazers don’t love the proliferation of satellites that can obscure scientific data and ruin a clear night of watching the universe. The International Astronomical Union issued a statement in July 2019 noting concern about the multiple satellite launches.

“The organisation, in general, embraces the principle of a dark and radio-quiet sky as not only essential to advancing our understanding of the Universe of which we are a part, but also as a resource for all humanity and for the protection of nocturnal wildlife,” the union’s representatives wrote. They noted that light reflection can interfere with astronomical research, but the radio-waves can also cause problems for specialized research equipment such as those that captured the first images of a black hole.

Fienberg said there is no real regulation of light pollution from satellites, but SpaceX has voluntarily worked to mitigate that by creating visors that dampen the satellites’ reflection of sunlight. They’ve made significant progress in just two years, he said, but many hope that the satellites will some day be at such a low magnitude that they will not be visible to the naked eye even at dusk or dawn.

Fienberg noted a massive telescope being built in Chile, costing millions of dollars and a decade of planning. The telescope will capture a huge swath of the sky in the Southern hemisphere and take continual pictures to record a sort of movie that will show the universe changing. Because of its size, nearly eight meters across, the massive telescope could also lead to the discovery of dimmer objects in the night sky, he said.

The plan is for the telescope to start recording in 2023. And with plans for thousands of satellites, Fienberg said it’s hard to imagine that they won’t cause issues with the data since there’s no way to correct for their lights and know what amount of light should be emitted from any dimmer objects behind the path of the satellites, which could also create ghost images in the data.

“We’re talking with companies now and hoping to continue to make progress, and potentially by the time it goes into operation, have tools and techniques to correct for the lights and perhaps fainter satellites,” Fienberg said. “We can’t say this is wrong and you have to stop because the point is to provide internet access to the whole globe. It’s an admirable goal, that we would support, if it didn’t mean giving up something else… the night sky.”

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YouTube brings picture-in-picture to iPhones and iPads

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Cutting corners: It’s been a long time coming, but YouTube is finally bringing support for picture-in-picture to iPhones and iPads. While the rollout is beginning with Premium subscribers, it’ll soon be available for all iOS devices, at least in the United States.

Picture-in-picture allows users to continue watching a video outside of the app, making it possible to watch a clip while working on a document, browsing the web, or editing a photo. Picture-in-picture support at the OS level first launched on iPad with iOS 9, before making the leap to iPhone in iOS 14, where it works surprisingly well on Apple’s larger-screen devices.

Before now however, YouTube didn’t officially support the feature, at least not on the app. Some users were able to do picture-in-picture by visiting YouTube in Safari on their iPad. But YouTube has confirmed that the feature is due to officially launch for Apple devices and not just for paying customers. “Picture-in-Picture (PiP) allows users to watch YouTube videos in a small mini player while simultaneously browsing outside of the YouTube app on their mobile device. We’re starting to roll out PiP for YouTube Premium members on iOS and plan to launch PiP for all US iOS users as well.”

We can only hope that expansion to other countries is also on the cards. For now, users can get ready for the feature by downloading the free YouTube app on their iPhone or iPad.

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How to Turn off a PS5 Controller When Paired Using Bluetooth

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If you pair the Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller with your smartphone, tablet, or PC using Bluetooth, you need to manually switch off the controller when you’re done playing to save battery life. Here’s how.

Even though the DualSense works perfectly well using Bluetooth, it doesn’t power itself down when you’re done using the PS5 controller. If you shut down your PC or switch off your phone, the DualSense will keep trying to connect to the device that it was paired with. This leads to battery drain, which you can avoid by manually switching off the PS5 controller.

To turn off the PS5 DualSense controller, hold down the PlayStation button for around 10 seconds.

The PlayStation button on the DualSense controller

You can confirm that it’s turned off by looking at the lights around the touchpad. If they’re no longer lit, then the DualSense has been successfully turned off.

To turn it back on again later, just hold the PlayStation button down for a moment until it lights up.

RELATED: How to Use a PS5 Controller on Windows 10



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Maybe we can manifest our way to a pink iPhone 13. What do you think, Apple?

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This render of a pink iPhone 13 was posted on Instagram before going viral on Twitter.


@aliartist3d

iPhone 13 rumors are coming fast and furious, especially those that pertain to the phone’s alleged design. Two new color rumors have especially got the internet in a tizzy: pink and matte black. Dreams of a bubblegum pink iPhone 13 all started with an Instagram post. Artist and Instagrammer Ali Sayed Ali, who specializes in 3D models and renders (mostly of iPhones), posted a photo back in February showing a very ~aesthetic~ pink iPhone surrounded by what appears to be other pink Apple accessories (AirPodsAirPods Max and an iPhone case). “Should we start seeing these colors more often?” the caption said. 

It was only a matter of time before the great algorithm in the sky brought millennial pink and iPhone leaks together in capitalist matrimony. 

Read more: Here’s how we think the iPhone 13 will compare to the iPhone 12

On May 5, a Twitter account called Peng Phones created a frenzy when it tweeted the same photo without sourcing, referring to it as a “Rose Pink” iPhone 13 Pro Max render and teasing a December 2021 release date for the color option. (Subsequent tweets from the same account also mention November 2021 releases for “Pink,” “Rose Pink” and even “Rosegold Pink” iPhones.) The tweet netted over 40,000 likes and more than 30,000 retweets, causing searches for “pink iPhone 13” to spike. The photo has since been removed from the tweet for copyright violation.

Much of the Twitter reaction was of the skeptical variety:

But still, many Twitter responses expressed hope (or at least a capitulation to capitalism that one could interpret as buying intent): “Capitalism is bad but the pink iphone is so sexy,” one person tweeted. Another just tweeted “manifesting” between two candle emoji with an image of not only a pink iPhone 13, but a pink Nintendo Switch, too. 

pink-iphone-13

Another render of a pink iPhone that’s been going around Twitter.


@itsleighchan

This rumor is actually more of an iPhone wish list item since the original creator of the image says she created it just for fun. But that doesn’t stop us (and the aesthetic devotees of social media) from wondering about its plausibility anyway. Could Apple actually make the pink iPhone happen?

The veracity of the alleged release dates and color names tweeted by Peng Phones is pretty hard to vouch for, not having originated or been corroborated by notable leakers with solid Apple-leak track records, and especially because the photo in the tweet was merely fan art.

But the variation in color and release dates actually isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Apple’s iPhone 12 release schedule was almost as complicated as its price structure, with the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro arriving earlier than the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Mini. And Apple’s Pro line, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, come in different colors than the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, too:

iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max colors

  • Silver
  • Graphite
  • Gold
  • Pacific blue

iPhone 12 and 12 Mini colors

  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Product red
  • Purple

Apple hasn’t officially said anything about either a release date or any color options for the iPhone 13 (if that’s even what it’s called), so right now we can only speculate. But the odds of a pink iPhone 13 coming out in 2021? They’re not terrible. 

First, this wouldn’t be the first time Apple has released a pink iPhone. The iPhone 5C, released in 2013, was available in pink. 2018’s iPhone XR came in coral, and the iPhone 6S from 2015 was sold in rose gold. Pink has been a popular color for tech ever since. Just this past February, Samsung also released phantom pink and phantom violet models of its flagship Galaxy S21 phone, with a more metallic sheen than the iPhone 13 render.

Purple iPhone 12

Apple’s purple iPhone 12, unveiled in April alongside a colorful array of iMacs.


Sarah Tew/CNET

And second, Apple just released a new purple color option for the iPhone 12, another bone thrown to the aesthetic crowd. In fact, Apple also unveiled a redesigned iMac at an April virtual event available in a variety of throwback hues to match the company’s rainbow logo of yore. One of those iMac colors is, you guessed it, pink.

pink Apple iMac 2021

The pink iMac, unveiled at Apple’s Spring Loaded event in April.


Screenshot/Apple

Apple does usually swap out one iPhone color from generation to generation, leaving the rest consistent. So it’s possible that a candy-colored pop of pink could oust the iPhone 12’s deep blue or mint green (or even the new purple). 

We won’t find out for sure until Apple announces the iPhone 13 (likely in September). Until then, follow along with all the juiciest iPhone 13 rumors here. And in the event that Apple doesn’t make our aesthetic dreams come true? You can always just buy a pink phone case.


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