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Archive for May, 2014

More Artec Science Kits (part 3)

Artec, that crazy Japanese company that makes great and original science kits has sent a few new products to us. Let’s start with the RC Cube:



Complete Properties of Electrons Apparatus

One of the more ‘practical’ experiments done in advanced physics labs is where a cathode ray tube (which shoots electrons) is surrounded by a magnetic field. By changing the magnetic field you manipulate the path of the electrons and cause them to strike the end of the tube in different areas. By measuring the change of path you could measure the field or calculate the deflection if you knew the power of the magnetic field. The experiment is considered practical because it doesn’t take much to realize this is how old TVs and Computer monitors worked (before LCD screens became the default). The experiment is only a crude imitation of the process that goes on in a TV, but it at least gives you the idea.

The biggest issue with the experiment is that it needed a lot of stuff to work. Cathode Ray tubes were purchased separately, as were the field generating coils, wires, power supplies, variacs, it made quite a mess. Some ‘kit’ versions were produced but none were as convenient as United Scientific’s Complete Properties of Electrons Apparatus



Fun with Crazy Aaron’s FoxFire Thinking Putty

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty has released a new line of putties known as the Phantoms. These are similar to the Glow-In-The-Dark putties they have sold, but with one crucial difference – If Ultraviolet (UV) light is shined on them, they visibly change color  – even in broad daylight.

We’ve added one of these to our product line, the Foxfire Thinking Putty



The Art of Surviving an Astronomy Session

So you got yourself a new telescope and it is a clear night out. Time to grab the new telescope and bring it outside, right? Hold on there; as many new astronomers have discovered, an observing session isn’t as simple as when you go outside in the winter/early spring to put out the trash. There are several things you should probably prepare before you go out for a night of observing.


Far, far too many folks dress for the daytime weather. This can be a problem for you if the daytime was a happy 78 degrees and then drops as the sun goes down into the 60’s.  Many an observing session has been ended prematurely because the astronomer forgot to wear a sweater.

For colder weather, it is 670px-Dress-for-the-Cold-Step-1-Version-2wise to dress in layers.  This way you can adjust your level of warmth as the night goes on. The only trouble with dressing in layers is that you need to get dressed indoors where it is warm and putting on multiple layers is a bit more complex than just tossing on a jacket. I have had sessions where I dressed for warmth and then had something delay my exiting the house, the result being me sweating up a storm before I got outside.


Even if you only have the eyepieces that came with your telescope and a star chart it might not be a bad idea to have somewhere to put these items down. A simply folding aluminum table can help a lot without being too much of a burden. You might also consider some kind of carrying case for the eyepieces. Keeping them in your pocket can be hard on the glass and coatings in the long run.


2241largeWell before you go out, you should decide what you would like to observe that night, or if you just want to aim the telescope around and see what you can find. The latter can be lots of fun, but it can also get old pretty fast if you don’t find anything of interest. The former does require some planning, so be sure to check your planisphere, planetarium program or other astronomical assistant before going out.


Far too many folks turn hobbies into chores – Astronomy is by no means unique in this regard. Doing some work in any hobby to get the most out of it is to be expected, but turning it into a huge burden can make you burn out on astronomy.







New Stirling Engine Designs from DStar

DStar Engines has produced some of the highest quality and widest variety of Stirling Engines to hit the market. From their popular Low-Temperature Stirling Engine, to the unique Stirling Engine Powered Vehicle. Now two new varieties of Stirling Engine are available.

The first is the Magnetic Ringbom Stirling Engine.



Time for Saturn Viewing!

May is going to be an excellent month for viewing planets – Mars is still quite prominent, Jupiter will show up nicely in the Western sky as the sun sets, Mercury makes one of its rare viewable times on the 25th of this month, and Venus will continue to greet early risers. But the big star….err…planet of the month is Saturn.




More New Items: Kids Chemistry Set, Fingerprint Detective & Molecule Madness

We went on vacation last week (although the store was open) and some new products have come in. Let’s have a look!

First up is the Kid’s First Chemistry Set