Saint Leo Visits Clearwater Aquarium!

Clearwater Marine Aquarium has been opened since 1972 and has been a non-profit organization geared towards rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured marine animals. On Nov. 5, Saint Leo University students got the opportunity to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and learn about a variety of marine life organisms.

The bus departed campus safety at approximately 11:30 am, and students arrived at the facility approximately 12:40 pm. They were given until 4:00 pm to explore both aquariums, as well as the neighboring areas.

According to their website, “ The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is fundamentally a hospital for sick and injured marine life.  However, what we do is so much more.  We inspire the human spirit, through the animals and their stories of survival, which touch all of us.  We educate young people on the preservation and conservation of our animals and environment.  We collaborate on scientific research to better understand animal behavior, illness, treatment and the prevention of animal decline.  We protect the growth of the endangered sea turtle population by guarding a 26-mile stretch of beach within Pinellas County.  We rescue and rehabilitate injured and ill animals with the aim of releasing them back into their natural habitat.  When this isn’t possible, we provide long-term residential care.”

Through this, the staff at the aquarium can inspire and educate while also providing hope for marine life and aquatic animals.

The most prominent animal within the aquarium was Winter the dolphin, who was the main attraction and inspiration for the hit movie “Dolphin Tale” and its sequel. Many students were very surprised to learn that both of these movies were actually filmed at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

“I watched Dolphin Tale on Netflix, and it was a really amazing movie, but I had no clue it was filmed here until today. It is nice to know that the workers here are so passionate about rehabilitating and rescuing animals, and releasing them back if possible. I have not seen Dolphin Tale 2 as yet, but I think that when I go home, I will try to find it and watch it. I can imagine that it will be a wonderful sequel to the first movie” said Martina McKoy, a sophomore majoring in psychology.

Similarly, many students were excited to meet Winter after hearing that the dolphin was actually the same one from the movie. Maeisha McDermott, a sophomore majoring in biomedical and health sciences said

“I learned so much about Winter today at the aquarium. It was so touching to hear about her story of survival and rehabilitation. It was also sad to learn about all the dangers sea animals such as Winter face because of all the fishing practices of human beings. Stories such as Winter’s and the work of Clearwater Marine Aquarium however give me hope that things will get better for aquatic life.”  

Hope was another popular dolphin at the aquarium, and was very similar to Winter. She, like Winter, was found at the Indian River Lagoon five years and one day later. Unfortunately, she was extremely dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition as a result of lack of milk form her mother. Thankfully, the staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium were able to nurse her back to health, and she has been doing well and recovering nicely since she was found.

Saint Leo students were also given the opportunity to learn about other marine life, such as sea otters, sting rays, pelicans, and sharks. They could also get up close and personal with some of the animals, and some students even touched and fed the sting rays as they swam around in their spacious pools.

Many students took advantage of the complimentary bus shuttle to the Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure which featured a museum of reconstructed movie sets and props, Hurricane Experience exhibit, touch tanks, Winter’s Gallery of Hope, and an assortment of other interesting exhibits. The trolley ride lasted for around ten minutes and gave students an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful architecture of the area. After most of the exhibits, some students sought to have lunch in popular restaurants within the area, such as Tony’s Pizzeria, which offered delectable Italian food.

Saint Leo undergraduate students are encouraged to visit saintleotickets.universitytickets.com to seize tickets which may be on sale for lovely outings such as this. Prices are significantly discounted, and these events give everyone an opportunity to meet new people, socialize, learn, and actively engage in being a part of the Saint Leo community.

The Spirit of the Law

Most objectives expected in video games consist of racing, moving from point A to point B, shooting an enemy or slaying a dragon, but would anyone ever think that arguing in a courtroom would make an interesting and intuitive video game experience? Not until the “Ace Attorney” series became a cult following with its thought-provoking murder mysteries, quirky characters, and imaginatively fun world still capable of capturing the minds invested in “Whodunit?” stories. The latest main installment of “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice” on the Nintendo 3DS has managed to capture some of those same elements like its predecessors, but how well and to what extent?

“Spirit of Justice” starts in a different setting where famous defense attorney Phoenix Wright visits the foreign, religion-focused country of Khu’rain to meet up with an old friend, Maya Fey. As usual however, he finds himself caught in the middle of a murder case—except this time, he becomes trapped within the boundaries of Khu’rainese law, one that lacks and condemns defense attorneys for their profession. With the country’s famous “Divination Séances” that allow the court to witness the victim’s last memories as well as its dark history with defense attorneys, any who fail to prove their defendant as not guilty fall under the Defense Culpability Act—a law that punishes lawyers just as severely as the accused, including execution. Seeing the unfairness of this legislation, it’s up to Phoenix to not only try to right the wrongs of Khu’rain’s legal system but fight for his own life, while Wright’s fellow defense attorneys Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes continue to hold down the fort in the U.S. court of law.

In regards to previous titles in the series, “Spirit of Justice” plays largely the same—with cross examinations of defendants and witnesses to find contradictions by presenting evidence, as well as investigations of crime scenes and bringing out the truth from people involved in a case with Phoenix’s signature breaking of Psyche-Locks, Apollo’s perception with his iconic bracelet, and Athena’s psychological therapy sessions. “Spirit of Justice” brings back the previous entry’s streamlined interface and gameplay of investigations that avoids tedious pixel hunting, while each attorney’s exclusive mechanic is spread throughout the game. With a consistent change between attorneys however, it keeps a good balance. “Spirit of Justice” also brings the return of using forensic science to closer examine evidence for blood and fingerprints—an element absent from the previous “Dual Destinies.” Unfortunately, these segments of the game are among the most tedious, having the player examine rather large 3D models with little fingerprint powder to use. This returning feature goes from a fun side element of previous installments to frustratingly long segments. Still, said segments are few and far in-between compared to other gameplay elements.

The most eye-catching feature however is Khu’rain’s famous “Divination Séances,” allowing the defense to examine and find flaws in the last moments of the victim. This mechanic that a majority of previous installments weren’t capable of is an interesting idea for a game surrounded by religion in conjunction with the logic to solve the ambiguities of murder cases. While it works out well a majority of the time, other times it’s rather confusing as to what inconsistences the player should be looking for, and the feature itself can sometimes be finicky about said inconsistences. It’s undeniably an intriguing and thought-provoking feature, but could have used some better overall execution.

Being one of the more well-known series of the niche “visual novel” genre, story is an important factor in the “Ace Attorney” series. “Spirit of Justice” provides a great overall story, with its character interaction being one of its strongest points as well as the narrative itself. Though some of the new characters in “Spirit of Justice” aren’t quite as interesting as others from past installments, their own backstories are interesting enough to keep the player’s attention. Many of their personalities still have the usual “Ace Attorney” charm and don’t painfully stick out, despite how wonderfully ridiculous they always are. Many lovable characters from previous entries also make a return and are just as fun as ever, but the only real crime the game commits with this is underutilizing the popular Maya Fey’s return. Despite her absence from the series for years, so little is done to acquaint her with new elements that have been introduced since as the game conveniently pulls her out of the plot from time to time.

“Spirit of Justice” takes an interesting change of pace by putting the recognizable Phoenix Wright in a very unfamiliar setting, but doesn’t overwhelm the player by bringing them back to the standard court room throughout the game. Though if “Spirit of Justice” lacks any noticeable flaw in its story, it’s the story-telling itself. The narrative is unquestionably fascinating and brings in a few surprises. But the mysteries of solving cases can be rather obvious at times, especially for a game that is focused on solving said mysteries. The game can’t help but occasionally hold the player’s hand by giving sometimes painfully obvious hints, and yet the characters seem to lack basic deductive reasoning in a profession that relies on such a concept. Usually, the real criminal’s identity becomes obvious quickly and it’s at times that the player may know a theory the game wants to propose is incorrect, but has to propose it to move the story forward. Nevertheless, the story is still quite enjoyable and something fresh, but does lack some of the enigmatic elements of other titles.

Considering its nature as a visual novel, presentation is also quite important. Much like “Dual Destinies,” “Spirit of Justice” continues to take the smart approach of emulating the spritework of older titles with choppy but captivating character animation. However, “Spirit of Justice” takes this another step further with more FMV cutscenes as the series has shifted to 3D. These scenes do look nice, but definitely aren’t the most stunning work to be found on the 3DS handheld and can be a little stilted at time. Playing the game in 3D also causes some significant framerate drops—some of which are still present even when played in 2D. Some models even require a few seconds to actually load, especially towards the end of the game. Though this isn’t a game breaker by any means, it can sometimes break the immersion that visual novel games try so hard to invest the player with. Many of the character models themselves are still well-made, and it’s hard not to appreciate what the series is doing differently from past entries; it simply lacks refinement—something one would expect after the developers’ first experimentation with 3D in “Dual Destinies”.

Other changes and inclusions in the presentation of “Spirit of Justice” is its greater presence of voice acting and its return of anime cutscenes from the previous game. Unfortunately, anime cutscenes have a much smaller presence than “Dual Destinies” and have noticeably downgraded in quality with the change of animation studios from BONES to A-1 Pictures. This is a disheartening change, but the animation itself is still nice to see when it does appear. The greater presence of voice acting is also a welcome addition to the series. Though “Ace Attorney” may never be a fully-voiced series, the performances of the well-chosen actors do make the overall presentation of “Spirit of Justice” quite enjoyable.

Though the sound of the voice acting is pleasant enough on the ears, the soundtrack doesn’t quite leave the same impression. There aren’t any songs that are particularly ear-grating, but many of them simply lack inspiration, fail to stick out, or are just reused from previous titles. In fact, among the best songs in the game are remixes of older tracks, but they aren’t even among the best remixes of the series and still leave more to be desired. It is definitely among the weakest soundtracks in the series, but the songs regardless do their job of setting the appropriate moods.

“Spirit of Justice” is a game that’s impossible not to get some real enjoyment out of, especially for long-time “Ace Attorney” fans, those who simply enjoy the series or even just murder mysteries. It has a fun and interesting story and is one of the more ambitious titles of the series with a nice overall presentation. Yet it does lack some polish in some areas, be it the presentation, soundtrack or in some of its crime-solving. But for fans of “Ace Attorney” or fans of interacting in crazy courtroom antics, “Spirit of Justice” is a game worth checking out. For the overall fun and investment it provides, “Spirit of Justice” earns the score of 3.75/5.0.

How to Have a Real Fall Season in Florida

If you’re from up north or out in the Midwest, then you may not be used to the amalgamation of seasons that seems to occur in Florida. We should all know by now that there are four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and then fall. Not only that, but each is characterized by something different, with fall being one of the more distinct ones. The sunshine and hot climate of summer disappears, in comes the leaves changing color, and brisk cool winds fill the air. However, if you’re from Florida, you’d know that none of the above applies to the Sunshine State.

With the coming of fall, one would normally expect cozy sweaters and leaves changing to their rustic brown color. However, in Florida, fall is marked by more subtle occurrences such as less rain and a slight drop in temperature and humidity, due to its subtropical climate. The fall season usually starts in mid-October and is a chance to enjoy the respite from the usual blazing summer heat. It is a great time to go the beach and spend time outdoors. Women itch to wear their scarves and fall outfits and pumpkin flavored drinks, treats, and scents pop up everywhere.

Even though Florida is home to mostly evergreen trees such as palms and firs, there are some that do change slightly. However, the fall change occurs to a lesser extent and more sporadically than it does up north. Early to mid-November is the best time to see this change. The usual fall foliage on display in Florida includes hues of orange, yellow, red, and a hint of purple.

If you truly are into the fall landscape, look out for trees such as the Florida maple, sugarberry, persimmon, cypress, and flowering dogwood. The best places to view the fall foliage would be throughout Central and Northern Florida, especially around Saint Leo or along I-75 since this is the hillier region of Florida.

There are many great places throughout Central and Northern Florida to see fall foliage. Southern Florida picks up a little hint of color during autumn, but the color is far more muted there than in the northern half of the state. Even more fun ways to admire nature would be to go canoeing on one of the many lakes around the state or to go hiking.

A major benefit from living in Florida during fall is Halloween Horror Nights. You will not have to travel very far to attend this popular Halloween event at Universal Studios, as it’s located in Orlando. Go out and enjoy the horrifying displays and haunted houses as well as the rollercoasters and live shows.

If you really miss your northern fall, then go out an stock up on the latest plug-in scents, carve a couple pumpkins, stock up on the season’s hottest trends and colors, or simply learn to appreciate what a fall in Florida has to offer.

A Location Full of Disappointment

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“In the Five Nights At Freddy’s: Sister Location, possessed killer animatronics are out to kill the player. Will the player survive the five nights?” @sisterlocation

With October being the month of spooks and frights, it’s around this time that the horror game releases increase. Scott Cawthon, developer and publisher of the Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) franchise, also decided to release the next FNAF game in the series on October 7th. “Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location” is the fifth installment of the series and has gotten both mixed reviews by both fans and critics alike.

The plot of this game doesn’t take place in the familiar Fazbear Pizza restaurant chain in the previous installments, but instead resides in a sister company called Circus Baby’s Pizza World. The player plays as Mike, a new employee to the Circus Baby Rental and Entertainment department.  While the five days (Monday through Friday) takes place in a different building, the same scheme of the series remains of evil animatronics that want to kill the player.

While the plot doesn’t really have much going for it, the production shows compared to the past games. Examples of this better productivity are shown the “cut scenes” and extra care in background design and characters which the other games in the franchise lacked. Some elements of humor are also added such as light hearted elevator music playing while inside the demented building.

The atmosphere of the game is decent with a lot of dark rooms that the player has to go through and check. Atmosphere is something the game franchise has done well with keeping, with run down pizzerias and now an electrical building.

There are a lot of issues with this game that cause it to be a little frustrating when playing. Two major problems are the lack of a pause button and an options button. Without these two common game mechanics, players can’t pause the game for life’s interruptions, and they can’t mess with the size of the video or the volume of sound. Another issue that many players have found is the mixed difficulty in nights. In past FNAF games, the difficulty increased with every night; however, in “Sister Location” the difficulty seems all over the place. Night four especially has been seen as the hardest night in the game being rated as almost impossible to beat. There is one issue that rises above all the others in the game, and that is the lack of terror and scariness.

This issue shows more in “Sister Location” than any other installment, with evil animatronics that are only slightly creepy compared to past designs. The only kind of scare these games give are jump scares, types of thrills that make the viewer react with an abrupt change in the image. While this works a couple of times, the jump scares get old and soon the player won’t even be jumping when the animatronics kill them.

“Sister Location” brings a lot of new and improved mechanics from the past games, but under all the polish and shine, it is the same as all the other FNAF games. Fans of the previous games and online “Let’s Players” (YouTuber’s who play video games) give these games more credit than they deserve; it’s sad that they are undermining better horror franchises. Maybe one day the games will not rely so much on small scares, but will improve in the horror aspects. As for now, this game is nothing but a disappointment. This game gets a rating of 2.5/5.

Uber and Lyft and Their Registration Battle

The Public Transport Commission [PTC] continues the battle between ridesharing companies, Uber, and their rival company Lyft, over their right to operate legally.

Both companies have expanded and have been taken global, however, just because they are present everywhere, does not mean drivers are operating legally within those city limits. Uber and Lyft are being accused of operating without a public license, and there is a growing concern for the safety of the travelling public.

Uber is currently available in 52 countries. The company has expanded worldwide from America to Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Lyft is also currently in major cities, across different states in America and the company has expanded to international cities as well. Lyft has landed in major cities of other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.

However, even though Uber and Lyft make their way into new territories, they still continue to fight regulation battles in existing operating locations.

Dating back to 2014, some countries like New Delhi, Thailand, and Spain banned the ride-sharing service. Where Uber originated, the United States, number of cities have written cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft, and in some extreme cases, have gone as far as suing them. During the first two couple of weeks in December of 2014, it was reported that Portland, Oregon filed a law suit against Uber for operating illegally within the city limits. Despite issuing cease-and-desist letters and fining drivers caught operating under Uber certified vehicles, the city had had enough.  

Other cities on the west coast took action and the District attorneys of both Los Angeles and San Francisco also filed civil consumer protection suit against the Uber Company.

Uber and Lyft both came to the Tampa, Florida area in April of 2015, and according to the Tampa Bay News, since then the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been issuing driver citations for those drivers operating illegally.

Public Transportation Commission Executive Director Kyle Cockreem told BuzzFeed News, that since Uber and Lyft launched in Tampa in April, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has attempted to work out a deal with the ridesharing companies.

This fight between the Public Transportation Commission and Uber and its rival Lyft has been going on for two years. However, the battle intensified when the county started punishing drivers with hefty citations. Collectively three citations sum up to $700, and along with those citations, Uber and Lyft also receive citations for aiding and abetting each of the drivers.

A total of 1115 drivers have received three citations for: illegal operation, operating a public vehicle without proper certification, and not having proper insurance.

Taxi and limo drivers want ride-sharing companies to abide by the same regulations they have to undergo in order to operate legally; undergoing background checks and vehicle inspections. For taxi and limo drivers must undergo fingerprint screening before being hired as drivers. While Uber and Lyft just simply use a software program to check a national database for their new employed drivers, of the last seven years instead. The problem: Not every state’s records are available online.

Another issue taxi and limo drivers’ face is a 40 day window, to comply with car inspections. However, many Uber and Lyft drivers don’t even work for the respective companies for that long. And, as a result that means passengers could be riding in uninspected cars.

Apart from operating illegally, local taxi and limo services can’t compete with the low rates that Uber and Lyft offer. Under new proposed regulations in 2015, the agency would classify rideshare vehicles similar to non-luxury limousines and impose regulations to help them compete.

Besides wanting Uber and Lyft to submit to fingerprint-based background checks and annul inspections, the agency wanted to exact a minimum wait time of 7 minutes before picking up passengers. In order to not take business away from taxicab drivers. And charging a minimum $7.00 fare versus their usual fare of $5.00.

Blayn Cumblee, 27, a Lyft driver said, “Ridesharing is all about having on-demand access. A Seven minute wait time won’t work.”

Zach Jacobs, a local, wrote a letter to officials, said, “When you propose restrictions for ride sharing services such as a 7 minute wait and a minimum $7 fair (sic) [it’s] clear that you are not acting in a public safety role but rather attempting to “level the playing field” for limo/taxi special interests.”

These proposed regulations were an attempt to end the two years of legal battle with the company market leaders. And, all these regulations simple ensures that passengers are getting into a safe vehicle. The proposed regulations would formally put ridesharing companies under Public Transportation Commission purview by creating a special category known as transportation network companies, or TNCs.

Cockreem said,” We started this campaign taking the high road…We contacted the companies, we asked them to cease and desist, we told them ways to become legal and what they could do for their drivers to become legal. We were open to suggestions to amend any rules to try to accommodate them somehow and additionally our campaign was simple. First, we contacted drivers to tell them what they’re doing is illegal and here’s why.”

The Public Transportation Commission offered to purchase fingerprinting machines, totaling $12,000, so that proper background checks could be performed. BuzzFeed News reported no response from Lyft on that proposal, but Uber said, “No, we don’t think you should have to incur that in your budget… That’s not for them to say.”

Christopher Emmanuel, Director of Infrastructure and Governance Police of Florida Chamber of Commerce said, that forcing out Lyft and Uber would hurt Tampa’s ability to attract new businesses as well as millennials who don’t own a car.

But both Uber and Lyft are suing the Public Transportation Commission, and are asking the court to rule that the agency has no jurisdiction over smartphone-based business.

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the Tampa Bay residents and other outsiders to the area, are uniting behind Uber and Lyft. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported that a petition started on a Change.org, had more than 550 signatures.

Nintendo Flips the Switch

Nintendo has always been at the forefront of gaming technology, as has been personally responsible for leading the charge in a few shifts in gaming technology.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, the Game Boy beat out competitors from Sega and Atari in the handheld market, and paved the way for the DS, which released in 2004. On the console market, the Nintendo Wii, which released in 2006, kickstarted a market for exercise-based games. This soon expanded to Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

The PlayStation Move, which closely mimicked what the Wii had already been doing with the “Wiimotes”, didn’t turn out as popular. The Move controllers are being repurposed in the current generation of PlayStation as Virtual Reality controllers. Microsoft’s XBOX Kinect was more popular than the Move, and featured controller-less play.

When the Wii U was released in 2012, it was easily toppled by Microsoft and Sony not even a year later. Both consoles were superior in graphics, and Nintendo’s refusal to allow most third party developers to produce games for its system brought the popularity down.

It seems as if Nintendo is back in the forefront of the gaming industry, as the rumored “NX” has been announced as the Nintendo Switch, and it is a huge contender to the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One.

The controller features a design similar to the Wii U. It has a screen surrounded by buttons and 2 analog sticks. The selling point of the Switch, however, lies in its design.

There is a device that comes with the Switch that is reminiscent of an oversized debit card reader. It is blocky in shape and has a slit that goes through the device and is meant for the controller to be inserted into.

Once inserted, the image that was on the screen of the Switch is now projected onto your TV. The panels with the analog sticks and buttons can be removed and act as their own standalone controllers, similar in design to the Wii remote and “nunchuck” attachment. Additionally, the panels can be attached to a what looks like a blank XBOX or Playstation controller to get the feel of one.

The console easily converts into a handheld the size of a tablet by removing the screen from the dock. Once removed, the image on the TV goes out and transfers to the screen on the Switch. Simply reattach the analog stick and button panels and the Switch is ready to take with you anywhere.

Although it becomes a handheld, it still has the full power of the console inside of it. Inside of it is a NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, which is unordinary in the gaming industry, as both Sony and Microsoft use AMD technology. It has been announced that because of the graphics card, the Switch will support games built with Unreal Engine 4.

Speaking of games, Nintendo is expanding support for third party games on the system. We will finally see Nintendo supporting games from Bethesda, Ubisoft, Activision, TellTale, and Konami, among others. In fact, the premiere trailer for the Switch featured the remastered version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The actor was able to play the game on their TV, convert it to a handheld, and play Skyrim on the go.

The internet has already exploited the modular features of the controller. Several designs have come out of possible third party modifications that can attach to the controller in lieu of the standard analog and button panels to enhance certain games. Among these include a makeshift gun trigger for shooters, a reel for fishing games, and retro controller mods. Certain concepts show game-specific mods being bundled with the game.

Although these are concepts, these might not be too far off from reality, as we have seen third party modifications for the Wii and the DS families.

Price wise, the Switch is rumored to cost around $299. Considering the PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft’s Project Scorpio will cost about $399, the Switch might outsell its competitors.

Although many gamers are looking forward to specifics, such as exact price, specs, supported games, and launch titles, Nintendo has announced that it will be keeping its mouth shut tight about more details until sometime deep into 2017.

Alien Planet has Two Suns

 

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“This artist’s illustration shows a gas giant planet circling a pair of red dwarf stars in the system OGLE-2007-BLG-349, located 8,000 light-years away,” reports Nasa.gov. ” The two red dwarf stars are 7 million miles apart.” Source: nasa.gov

The Sun is known as the life line for humanity for it keeps humans alive. The Sun is a little over 90 million miles away from the Earth, which is a suitable distance allowing for Earth to be inhabitable.  

NASA reports that on Sept. 22 the Hubble Telescope discovered a planet that orbits, not one sun, but two suns. This is a huge discovery in the astronomy world because, while there are other small planets that orbit more than one red dwarf star, this is the largest. One goal of most astronomers in this day and age is to question whether or not life can survive on other planets. The planet they discovered is called OGLE-2007-BLG-349.  

This alien planet is “located 8,000 light-years from Earth toward the very center of the Milky Way,” according to NASA, and it is near the constellation Sagittarius. It was first spotted in 2007 by telescopes based on the ground all around the world, reported CBS News. Initially, astronomers identified the system as a planet orbiting only one star. However, their data did suggest that there was a third object, but the researchers weren’t able to identify it at the time. Not until September were the Astronomers able to claim that this planet had two suns, instead of one.

This is not the first time they have seen something like this; however, space.com claims there have been many planets that orbit bigger, surrounding red dwarf stars like this, but this is the first one with a circumbinary system. In these “circumbinary systems,” two stars orbit one common center of mass. From our place on Earth, gravity from the closer star, or sun, “bends and magnifies the light coming from the star in the background,” said NASA, and one after the other it continues to orbit.

This kind of technique is called “gravitational microlensing,” according to astro.cornell.edu. In fact, astro.cornell.edu reports that when a nearby, small star “passes directly between the Earth and a more distant star, the smaller object’s gravitational field acts as a lens to bend and focus the light. If the smaller objects path takes it precisely in front of the other one, the image formed by the ‘gravitational lens’ is a circular ring, referred to as an ‘Einstein Ring.’”

According to NASA, an “Einstein Ring” in Astronomy, is the deformation of the light from a source, such as a galaxy or a star into a ring through gravitational lensing of the source’s light by an object with an extremely large mass like another galaxy or a black hole. This is especially intriguing for astronomers who can use this bent light to study the surrounding area. They can see if there are any other stars in the system, and see any clues as to the environment of this planet, according to space.com. “The focusing of the light passing around the edges of the object towards the Earth causes a sudden and temporary increase in the brightness of the distant star”, said astro.cornell.edu.

Once they began receiving information from the Hubble Telescope and “gravitational microlensing,” “the ground-based observations suggested two possible scenarios for the three-body system: a Saturn-mass planet orbiting a close binary star pair or a Saturn-mass and an Earth-mass planet orbiting a single star,” said David Bennett, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

According to space.com, while “gravitational microlensing” is a great tool in finding if there are stars surrounding the planet, the best tool astronomers have today is the Hubble Telescope. Space telescopes take much more detailed photos of deep space than those telescopes that are land-based. Hubble’s high-resolution images revealed that the system has the brightness expected of two closely orbiting red dwarf stars. This information then led them to the conclusion that there was one Saturn-mass planet orbiting a close binary star pair. In simple terms, this information gave them the ability to say that OGLE-2007-BLG-349 is a planet near the size of Saturn, and has two suns.

This claim that NASA made in the Astronomical Journal was so ground breaking because it was the first time that “gravitational microlensing” was used to discover a circumbinary planet. NASA and the astronomy community took a huge step in this discovery. A discovery that has and will continue to get much attention. This is not the first and certainly not the last planet they will discover.