Exoplanets and the Transit Method

Have you ever wondered about exoplanets? Exoplanets are the planets outside of our solar system.

There are multiple methods used by astronomers to discover exoplanets. One of them is called the Transit Method. As planets orbit their stars in a mostly circular way, exoplanets will always pass in front of their own star (at least, to our own perspective). During a planet’s transit around its star, its effects will be somewhat similar to an eclipse. The amount of light given off by the star that is visible from Earth will decrease until the planet completes its transit. Using the data like the drop in the star’s brightness and how long the transit was, astronomers are able to make various calculations. Not only are they informed of the exoplanet’s existence, but they also discover the exoplanet’s distance to its star or how long its orbit takes. More than 3000 exoplanets have been discovered using the Transit Method to this date. 

Still, though, there will always be mistakes in using this method as well as any other methods. There may be unseen details or simply missed periods of light differences by astronomers’ telescopes and graphs. There may always be unobservable celestial objects in our universe that may remain undiscovered. All we can do is try to discover as much of it as we possibly can.

I think it is very important that we discover more about this infinitely large universe we live in before other galactic clusters move out of our observable universe. This will eventually happen, as the universe is constantly expanding at an accelerating rate, moving an increasing amount of celestial objects out of our observable universe every moment.

-Peri A.

Beginners Guide to Boba

Recently, the new trend is boba. Expanded past the Asian American community, boba is a new nationalized sensation. Boba is made from tapioca flour that is then cooked in a sugary syrup. The tiny black balls are then usually placed in various types of teas, slushies, or smoothies.I have grown up drinking boba and even have ratings of all the shops I have been to on my phone. I do not want to call myself obsessed, but it may be true. Nevertheless, the real question is, what is good or bad boba and where should you go?

Brown Sugar Milk

If it is either your first time at a boba shop or first time having boba, a good staple is getting the classic black milk tea with boba. If you dislike super sweet items I would advise lowering the sugar level to 75%. You usually cannot go wrong with classic black milk tea, making it a good sample to try. It is well balanced, sweet but not overpowering. Another good boba for a first timer is Thai milk tea with boba. Do not let the orange color scare you, it is simply strong black tea with various spices that is then sweetened with condensed milk. This drink is very creamy and compliments the boba pearls. If you dislike caffeine, most shops have black sugar milk. This drink is whole milk combined with a brown sugar syrup and boba. The combination is very delicious and does not contain caffeine.

Southern Orange Country is filled with many great boba shops. In the Mission Viejo area, the closest is Ding Tea. Ding Tea has a lot of the classic flavors and is pretty good for what it is. My personal favorite from there is the Wintermelon Milk Tea. If you want to stay as close to Mission Viejo as possible, Ding Tea is a great choice. Also centrally located is ShareTea in Lake Forest. Similarly to Ding Tea, ShareTea has great classics like their Thai Milk Tea. My personal favorite shop is OMOMO in Irvine. Their fruit drinks are made from fresh fruit and their boba is the softest and chewiest you can find. Any drink is a good choice there, especially the fruity drinks. The issue is that the line can be long, so be prepared. Another one of my favorites is Tastea. Also located in Irvine, Tastea has the best slushies compared to any other shop. I usually get the Lychee Freezie, which is a Lychee slush with Lychee jelly and bits combined with honey boba. Their drinks are fresh and their boba is nice and soft.

As a boba enthusiast, I hope this article encourages you to go either get boba or try it for the first time. Happy Boba-ing!

-Lilly G.

Planet 9

Many people know of the planets in our Solar System: Mercury, Venus, our own planet Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. There are also dwarf planets, such as Pluto, Ceres, and Eris. However, there is one planet that is still hypothetical and completely based on mathematics and theory. Planet 9 is a possible 9th planet in our solar system. Hypothetically, it would be located far beyond Neptune, the reason it is currently an unconfirmed planet. If it were existent, however, Planet 9’s orbit around our Sun could take as much as 10,000 to 20,000 years, in comparison to Neptune’s 165-year orbit. However, it is important to remember that these estimates are all based purely on mathematics and theory, and nothing is currently confirmed. The theoretical planet is believed to orbit the Sun more than 10 times further from the Sun than Neptune, which orbits the Sun at a distance of 2.8 billion miles.

Far outside our main solar system, there is a strange gravitational effect on some relatively small celestial objects (like asteroids). The way they orbit the Sun suggests to some scientists that there is yet another large planet orbiting our Sun far beyond Neptune and Pluto. Still, some scientists also say that our perception of the orbits of those objects is simply caused by human error in calculating and ‘viewing’ their orbits. Until enough evidence is discovered, or the planet itself is spotted through telescopes or various other methods, we can’t really claim that it either exists or doesn’t exist. There may be some other explanation for this phenomenon, or perhaps there really is an undiscovered planet somewhere out in the furthest reaches of our solar system.

-Peri A.

March Madness

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With the month being March, sports watchers have something new to watch which will keep them interested. It’s March Madness! March Madness is the NCAA Division One College Basketball tournament where 64 teams compete for the right to call themselves the Champs. 

First of all, there are four regions in the NCAA tournament: West, East, South, Midwest. Each region has its own one seed, two seed, all the way up to the 16th seed. Until the Final Four, each region’s teams only compete with each other. 

There are six rounds in March Madness, but not all teams are fortunate to make all of them. In fact, only two of the 64 teams are able to compete in all the rounds. To qualify for the tournament in March, teams are required to have a great regular season or win the conference championship. First comes the round of 64, where there are 32 different games total. The one seed in each region matches up with the 16 seed, the two seed with the 15 seed, up to the eighth seed versus the ninth seed matchup. Then, the winners of those games compete in the round of 32, which consists of 16 games. Next is the Sweet Sixteen, with eight games. The winners of the Sweet Sixteen matchups compete in the Elite Eight, which is also a regional final for each of the four regions. The winners of the regions go on to compete in the Final Four, where the region champions play against each other. The sixth round is the NCAA Championship Game, where the last two teams battle for the rights to cut down the nets and hold up the trophy! 

Performing highly in this college basketball tournament can also raise the stocks of players trying to make it to the NBA. Some top players to watch in the rest of March Madness include Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith Jr (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Mark Williams (Duke), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), and Ochai Agbaji (Kansas).  

Some top teams to watch in March Madness include UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue, Auburn, Houston, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Texas Tech.

I always enjoy watching top teams battle it out during March Madness. Whether it’s a 15 point comeback by an underrated team or a 30 point performance by a star player, March Madness never disappoints! 

-Mert A.

The Most Beautiful Libraries Around the World

  • Biblioteca de Convento de Mafra: This library is located in Mafra, Portugal. It is filled with leather-bound books from the 14th to the 19th centuries. This library had once been a part of the Mafra National Palace and it’s exquisite structure still stands today because of the bats sleeping in the shelves to keep away any pests. You should see it if you are ever nearby!
  • National Library of China: This library is located in Beijing, China. Several shelves consist of archives dating to the Song Dynasty and even some made of tortoise shells and bones from the Qing Dynasty. In the year of 1909, this library had been granted by the Xuantong emperor as an ordinary library but after the Revolution of 1911, it was taken over by the Ministry of Education and eventually led to being the country’s national library. People of all different interests in books find this library absolutely astounding.
  • Abbey Library of St. Gall: This library is located in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The paintings on the roof and the fashion of the book shelves leaves people breathless at first sight. This library is attached to the church of Abbey of St. Gall and has archives that date back to 820 CE. In the mid-18th century, the library had been redone in the Renaissance art style and architecture. A must-see that doesn’t allow any photography inside!
  • Starfield Library: This library is located in Seoul, South Korea. A unique characteristic of this library is that it is located in an underground mall! This library seems to be one of the most recent of beautiful libraries as it was built in 2017. Its two-story athenaeum shows the space as glowing and the plush sofas there are very relaxing.
  • Klementinum National Library: This library is located in Prague, Czech Republic. The original library of a Jesuit library became the “Baroque pearl of Prague” national library of the country. The adorn ceiling came from the artwork of Jan Hiebl and a portrait of Emperor Joseph II is placed at the head of the hallway with all of the works done throughout the centuries that had been in libraries that no longer exist anymore.

-Saanvi V.

Volunteering From Home for Teens: Letter Writing

Here, I’ve included organizations for teenagers to volunteer from home with- this time, letter writing. Enjoy!

1. Letters Against Isolation

Letters Against Isolation aims to ease loneliness among self-isolating seniors through letters! Volunteers write creative, fun letters or cards, and then mail the cards and letters to addresses they are given. Even though you may have to make a small investment to buy envelopes and stamps, it’s an easy, self-paced way to volunteer! You can find them at https://www.lettersagainstisolation.com/

Volunteering | South Florida Water Management District

2. Cards for a Cause

Cards for a Cause aims to ease sadness and loneliness among children hospitalized for a serious or terminal illness through card-writing. There are instructions for writing cards on their website, along with an email address to mail pictures of you working on the cards, so they can verify your hours. When finished, you mail the cards in one package to a given address, from which they are distributed out to individual children. Because the cards are mailed en masse to a single address, your investment for stamps and envelopes will be minimal, making this a great and easy way to volunteer! You can find them at https://cardsforacause.org/make-cards/

3. Soldiers’ Angels

Soldiers’ Angels is a massive volunteer organization, with many different virtual and in-person opportunities, so take a look at their other campaigns! They currently have two letter and card writing campaigns. However, to participate in their variety of opportunities, they do require a $1 per month donation. You can find them at https://soldiersangels.org/

-Vaidehi B.

Online Volunteering For Teens Part 2

Below, I’ve included three more organizations with which teens can volunteer online! Good luck!

Volunteer Opportunities | Cardinal at Work

1. DoSomething.org

DoSomething.org is another great virtual volunteering platform. The idea here is that you can volunteer from home, on your own schedule, and participate in mini ‘projects’- for example, one project could be collecting a number of nonperishable items for your local food pantry. You must track the hours you spent on the project, and upload pictures of your results- and DoSomething.org will send you a signed certificate confirming your hours! You can find them at https://www.dosomething.org/us

2. Points of Light

Another great platform to check out is Points of Light. Points of Light serves as a database, like VolunteerMatch, for volunteering opportunities in your area, and can also direct you to online opportunities- just toggle the Presence setting to “Remote.” You can find them at https://engage.pointsoflight.org/

3. TED Talk Translator

Do you know a language other than English? Then translating TED Talks might be the perfect volunteer task for you! You are assigned TED Talks in a secondary language, and then write subtitles for them in English, or vice versa- for example, you may have to write English translation captions for a Portuguese TED Talk, or write Portuguese captions for an English one. Even if you only know English, you can transcript subtitles for English TED Talks and review others’ work. The application process to become a translator is a bit tedious, but the work is rewarding! You can find them at https://www.ted.com/participate/translate/transcribe

-Vaidehi B.

5 Best Online Libraries

From school to extra activities, we don’t always have time to stop by the library and pick up some good reads. Online libraries are always a great option so you can read anywhere, anytime. Here are 5 of the best online libraries!

1. Project Gutenburg

Project Gutenburg is an online library that has over 60,000 free eBooks. There is no fee required to join/use the books, but this eLibrary is used more for informational books rather than kids fiction novels. Next time you need an eBook for a school project, visit https://www.gutenberg.org/ !

2. Overdrive

Overdrive is a website that directs you to your local libraries’ online bookshelf. Although Overdrive is not available for every library, it is one of my personal favorite websites to help me find a huge variety of free eBooks and audiobooks. Click here https://www.overdrive.com/account/select-library to use Overdrive!

3. Barnes & Noble Free Kids eBooks

The Barnes & Noble free kids eBooks is an online library that only has children’s books. It is totally free, but an app download is required. This eLibrary is perfect for those who prefer reading their books on their phone rather than a computer, since not all computers are compatible with this app download. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/free-ebooks/nook-books/_/N-ry0Z8qa

4. Oxford Owl

Oxford Owl is an online library for beginner readers (ages 4-8) that is 100% free. A login is required, however, but this website can be used on your tablet or your phone. Oxford Owl has online books such as Incredible Animals, The Frog Prince, and Dolphin Rescue! https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page/

5. Bookshare

Bookshare is a great online library for all ages. This website requires a membership in order to read certain books, but has over 1 million titles to read, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The membership is only $1 a week, and if you are a serious online reader, I highly recommend looking into Bookshare. https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

-Anusha M.

Online Volunteering Opportunities for Teens

Whether you need to complete a school requirement or are just looking to spice up your college applications and resumes, volunteering is a huge part of the middle and high school experience. However, in COVID-19 times, finding in-person volunteering opportunities has become very difficult. A reasonable alternative? Virtual volunteering! You can complete your hours anytime, anywhere, according to your own schedule. Below are three great virtual volunteering opportunities for teenagers!

New Jersey Department of State - Volunteer and National Service -  Volunteering in NJ

1. Zooniverse

Zooniverse is an online platform, specializing in science-based volunteering through transcription and editing. For example, you could be assigned to a project digitizing marine organism classification cards, or transcripting research vessel records from the 19th century. There’s no shortage of projects available! You can find them at https://www.zooniverse.org/

2. Amnesty Decoders

Amnesty Decoders is an offshoot branch of Amnesty International. The platform utilizes citizen volunteers (like you!) to analyze images, scan text blocks, or sift through documents to find, track, and report occurrences, like harassment, that impinge on people’s human rights. You may also be assigned a research or categorizing role. For example, you could examine pictures of New York City intersections and flag all the cameras you see, so Amnesty can better understand how new facial recognition and camera technology impacts marginalized communities. Amnesty Decoders does not currently have any projects open to volunteers, but you can subscribe to their mailing list to be notified of upcoming projects. You can find them at https://decoders.amnesty.org/

3. Smithsonian Transcription Center

The Smithsonian Transcription Center is another great volunteer option. It also utilizes citizen volunteers to make transcriptions of otherwise illegible documents and recordings in the Smithsonian Archive, in order to make them easier for people with disabilities and impairments to access. For example, you could be in charge of transcripting letters from Charles Perrault to Anne Tapissier, discussing an upcoming art exhibition at the Château de Nemours. To ensure all transcriptions are as accurate as possible, multiple volunteers can work at once on the same page or item, and all transcriptions must be reviewed by a peer. The documents are very interesting to read through! You can find the center at https://transcription.si.edu/

-Vaidehi B.

5th Annual Harry Potter Trivia by MVL: July 30, 2021

Hello trivia enthusiasts! I hope you all enjoyed the fun, zoom-based, summer season of pop culture trivia series, hosted by Mission Viejo Library. In case you didn’t get a chance to participate this year, make sure to keep a lookout for all future trivia hosted by Mission Viejo Library. They are super fun, engaging and the questions really challenge your knowledge in a fun way. Our energetic trivia host makes the activity more thrilling.

Mission Viejo Library saved the best for the last. Our 4th and final summer trivia, hosted on July 30, 2021, was also our 5th Annual Harry Potter Trivia. Our enthusiastic and knowledgeable trivia host covered the depths of the Harry Potter world. The trivia was designed in three rounds. Every round had 12 mind-boggling questions.  The host went through every round twice: once for the questions and once again for the answers.

Here are some of the questions he covered. See if you can guess them!

Round 1:

1. Name all the Weasleys from oldest to youngest.

  • Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny

2. What is the Dursleys’ address?

  • 4 Privet Drive

3. How many staircases does Hogwarts have?

  • 142 staircases 

Round 2:

1. Name all seven ingredients that create the Polyjuice Potion.

  • Lacewing flies, leeches, powdered Bicorn horn, knotgrass, fluxweed, shredded Boomslang skin, and a bit of the person you want to turn into.

2. Which spell is also known as the Thief’s Friend?

  • Alohomora

3. How much does a ticket for the Knight Bus cost if you include a cup of hot chocolate?

  • 14 Sickles

Round 3:

1. During Harry’s sixth year in Hogwarts, who is the instructor that taught the Apparition class?

  • Wilkie Tycross

2. Which ice cream flavor did Harry eat at the zoo when he went out with the Dursleys?

  • Lemon Ice Pop

3. What is the name of Draco Malfoy’s son?

  • Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy

Our Summer Trivia Program is now complete! If you joined us in any or all of the trivias, we hope you enjoyed it! If you missed it, come back next year! Hopefully we can even meet in person next year! 

-Anya P.