Forget Prime Day — Walmart are selling this amazing beginner telescope from Celestron for just $98!


If you’re interested in starting your astronomy journey, here’s a fantastic deal to consider. The Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ telescope is currently available for just $98 — but not in the Amazon Prime Day event — this deal is actually from Walmart. (And it seems to be from Walmart themself, not from a third-party seller). Every retailer seems to be showing a different ‘was’ price, but it’s currently on the Celestron website for $319.95, so that’s a huge discount.

This telescope, with its 90mm aperture, is an excellent choice for beginners who want to discover the wonders of the night sky, observe the moon and even seek out galaxies and nebulas.


Beginner telescope lowest-ever price — Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ now $160 cheaper


We’ve never seen the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ telescope at a lower price and now you can save $160 in the Amazon Prime Day 2023 sales. We gave this ideal beginner telescope four out of five stars in our Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ review and it sits near the top of our Best beginner telescope buying guide for good reason.

Even during Black Friday 2022 this 5-inch reflector telescope was still a further $80 more expensive! That shows us what a good telescope deal this is. Also featured in the top spot on our Best budget telescopes under $500 guide we love this DX 130AZ telescope for its 130mm aperture — this means it’s ideal for viewing galaxies, nebulas, planets and star clusters.


Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Which should you buy?


google pixel 8 camera bar in case

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In a sense, there’s no more fundamental a battle in the platform wars than pitting the Google Pixel 8 vs Apple’s iPhone 15. While both Apple and Google have higher-spec devices — the Pixel 8 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max, respectively — these are the latest “default” devices for Android and iOS. They’re also what more people are likely to buy, being hundreds of dollars cheaper than their Pro counterparts. So putting aside Android Authority‘s bias for a moment, which phone should you buy if you’re flexible on the platform question?

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: At a glance

  • The Pixel 8 is cheaper than the iPhone 15, starting at $699 versus $799, but lacks as many storage options.
  • Both phones support USB-C, but the Pixel 8 can charge slightly faster in wired and wireless modes, even if full wireless speed requires a 2nd gen Pixel Stand.
  • While both phones share similar rear camera systems, the Pixel 8 technically edges ahead with a 50MP main camera and laser-detect autofocus.
  • The Pixel 8’s display is barely larger at 6.2 inches next to the iPhone 15’s 6.1.
  • Although the iPhone 15 uses the same A16 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 14 Pro, we’re not yet sure how the Pixel 8’s new Tensor G3 chip stacks up in real-world performance.
  • The Pixel 8’s biggest selling point for some may be unique software-based photography features such as Face Unblur and the Magic Eraser.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Specs

Google Pixel 8 Apple iPhone 15


Google Pixel 8

– 6.2-inch Actua OLED
– 60-120Hz refresh rate
– Up to 2,000 nits peak brightness
– 1080 x 2400 resolution (428ppi)

Apple iPhone 15

– 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
– 60Hz refresh rate
– Up to 2,000 nits peak brightness
– 1179 x 2556 resolution (461ppi)


Google Pixel 8

Google Tensor G3

Apple iPhone 15

Apple A16 Bionic


Google Pixel 8


Apple iPhone 15

6GB (type unknown)


Google Pixel 8

128 or 256GB
No expandable storage

Apple iPhone 15

128, 256, or 512GB
No expandable storage


Google Pixel 8

4,485mAh (“minimum”) or 4,575mAh (“typical”) battery
27W USB-C wired charging
18W wireless charging with Pixel Stand 2nd gen, 12W with regular Qi chargers
Reverse Qi charging (Battery Share)

Apple iPhone 15

3,349mAh battery
20W USB-C wired charging
15W wireless charging with MagSafe, 7.5W with regular Qi chargers
4.5W reverse wired charging


Google Pixel 8

– 50MP wide, 1.2μm, f/1.68, OIS, 2x “optical quality” zoom, 8x digital zoom
– 12MP ultra-wide, 1.25μm, f/2.2, auto-focus
– Laser-detect auto-focus

– 10.5MP, 1.22μm, f/2.2, fixed focus

Apple iPhone 15

– 48MP wide, 1.0µm, f/1.6, OIS, 2x “optical-quality” zoom, 10x digital zoom
– 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.4
– Focus Pixels

– 12MP f/1.9


Google Pixel 8

Stereo speakers
Spatial audio (with compatible apps and/or headphones)
No 3.5mm jack

Apple iPhone 15

Stereo speakers
Spatial audio (with compatible apps and/or headphones)
No 3.5mm jack

IP rating

Google Pixel 8


Apple iPhone 15



Google Pixel 8

Face Unlock or Fingerprint Unlock (using under-display sensor)

Apple iPhone 15



Google Pixel 8

Dual SIM (nano SIM and eSIM)

Apple iPhone 15

eSIM-only (US) or nano SIM and eSIM (other countries)


Google Pixel 8

Android 14

Apple iPhone 15

iOS 17

Dimensions and weight

Google Pixel 8

– 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm

– 187g

Apple iPhone 15

– 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8mm

– 171g


Google Pixel 8

Obsidian, Hazel, Rose

Apple iPhone 15

Blue, pink, yellow, green, black

As you can see, the phones aren’t far apart in most respects. It seems like Apple and Google were well aware of what each other would have on the market by fall 2023. Even the phones’ displays are each capable of 2,000 nits of peak brightness outdoors, although the iPhone 15 tends to be slightly brighter in normal conditions.

It’s worth noting that as is usual for Apple, some iPhone 15 specs that seem weak on paper — mainly RAM and battery capacity — may not be in practice. Because Apple has airtight hardware and software integration, it’s able to optimize performance in a way Google can only dream of, despite its Tensor chips.

The Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 aren’t that far apart, especially because of Apple’s software optimizations.

Something we left out of our specs is that while both phones now support USB-C, the iPhone 15 only supports slow USB 2.0 data speeds, whereas the Pixel 8 is equipped with USB 3.2. Google does make you buy a separate cable to exploit that, yet if you regularly transfer gigabytes of video or other files, you may automatically need the Pixel 8.

Still up in the air is how well Google’s new Tensor G3 processor stacks up against the A16 Bionic. While the A16’s performance is well-documented, since it was used in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, we’re not allowed to share our Tensor G3 benchmarks just yet. Stay tuned!

The Pixel 8 has both a nano-SIM slot and eSIM support. That’s also true of the iPhone 15 in most countries, but US models of the device are limited to eSIM.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Size comparison

Practically speaking, there’s not much difference between the phones in size. The Pixel 8 does of course have a slightly larger 6.2-inch display, but in terms of other dimensions, it’s not that much bigger.

Where you might notice things a little is in thickness and weight. The Pixel 8 comes in at 8.9mm thick versus the iPhone 15’s 7.8mm, and it’s a bit heavier at 187g. That might make the iPhone 15 marginally more comfortable in the hand and easier to fit in a pocket.

Yes, both phones have an IP68 rating. You shouldn’t shower or swim with them though, at least not without a fully water-sealed case.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Cameras

This is a tough area to talk about for a few reasons, mostly because we have yet to fully test the pair of phones. We’ll update this comparison with galleries at a later date. Specs-wise, the products are extremely close. The iPhone 15 is Apple’s first non-Pro model with a 48 megapixel main camera, just shy of the Pixel 8’s 50 megapixels. Indeed, Apple and Google each claim 2x “optical-quality” zoom, although what they really mean is that their sensors can do a 2x crop without a noticeable quality setback. Both companies have yet to put true telephoto lenses on an entry-level or mid-range device — once again, we’re stuck with an ultrawide as the secondary. Anything beyond 2x zoom is aided by further computational photography trickery.

In fact, Apple and Google each rely on a lot of continually evolving processing wizardry. That’s especially true in the case of Google, which offers a variety of post-shot enhancement options that Apple doesn’t, such as Best Take, Magic Editor, Magic Eraser, and Face Unblur. That, combined with things like an Astrophotography mode, could push the Pixel 8 over the top for people who rely on their phone for all their photos.

Google’s photo wizardry could be a deciding factor for some people.

Apple is still known for having some of the best camera tech in the industry, however, so no one should be disappointed with an iPhone. When it comes to video, the iPhone 15 should be able to go toe-to-toe or better, supporting 4K at up to 60fps, and matching the Pixel 8’s hardware and software stabilization (on the main lens). The iPhone 15 can even shoot in Dolby Vision, whereas the Pixel is limited to “just” 10-bit HDR. About the only video advantages the Pixel 8 seems to hold (on the surface) are a macro focus recording mode and Audio Magic Eraser for deleted unwanted sounds. We’ll learn more soon.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Battery life and charging

iPhone 15 USB C power charging

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As hinted, Apple seems to be outperforming the battery specs it has on paper. Although the iPhone 15 is equipped with a 3,349mAh pack, nominally much smaller than the Pixel 8, Apple claims the device can handle up to 20 hours of non-stop video, whereas Google will only promise “beyond 24-hour” battery life when using a mix of functions. In practice, we’d expect both phones to have some charge left at the end of a day, but not enough that you can skip charging overnight. That’s par for the course.

One reason you might prefer the Pixel 8 is its Extreme Battery Saver mode. This goes beyond the low-power mode most smartphones have, shutting down all but the most essential functions to push battery life up to 72 hours. You’ll want to avoid using it, but if you’ve ever been worried about how long your phone will last after a long flight or an extended power outage, it could be appealing.

The Pixel 8 can technically charge faster, but only under specific conditions.

The Pixel 8’s 27W wired charging is faster than the regular iPhone 15, though not the 15 Pro or Pro Max, and you’ll still need to buy your own USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible adapter to make that happen (there’s no charger in the box). Likewise, while the phone can handle 18W wireless charging, that’s only with Google’s 2nd gen Pixel Stand. You’ll max out at 12W with a conventional Qi charger, which is below the 15W the iPhone 15 can handle with a certified MagSafe accessory. Google also doesn’t appear to have plans to support Qi2 on the Pixel 8, whereas that’s already in the works for the iPhone 15 lineup.

Bear in mind that the iPhone 15 is limited to 7.5W with Qi chargers, and doesn’t offer an equivalent of the Pixel 8’s Battery Share reverse wireless charging. The only reverse charging it has is wired, and even then it’s meant mostly for Apple Watches and AirPods. You can potentially use it with other devices if they support the USB-PD spec.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Price and availability

  • Google Pixel 8 (128GB): $699
  • Google Pixel 8 (256GB): $759
  • Apple iPhone 15 (128GB): $799
  • Apple iPhone 15 (256GB): $899
  • Apple iPhone 15 (512GB): $1,099

Though Apple has mercifully avoided hiking prices this year, there’s no doubt that it considers the iPhone 15  a “premium” product, given its $799 entry fee. If you shoot a lot of photos and video you can even spring $1,099 for a 512GB model, though at that point you’re spending as much as you would on a 256GB iPhone 15 Pro.

Apple iPhone 15Apple iPhone 15

Apple iPhone 15

USB Type-C port • Reliable experience • Solid 48MP camera

The entry-level iPhone of 2023

The iPhone 15 is the most accessible model of four options this year. With a 6.1-inch display running at 60Hz, the A16 Bionic SoC, and up to 512GB of storage, this is a capable phone for most users.

The Pixel 8 only has 128 and 256GB storage options, but slides in cheaper on both counts. That makes it a pretty good deal — unless of course going with an Android phone might sacrifice some of the Apple ecosystem in your household. More on that in a moment.

Google Pixel 8Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8

Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera

A bright display from Google’s 2023 flagship phone

The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that’s 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.

Depending on where you live, you might also have to wait longer for the Pixel 8. At the moment, it’s scheduled to ship in 20 countries on October 12, versus the 40-plus the iPhone 15 arrived in on September 22. Hopefully, Google’s reach should expand, but the company doesn’t have the same distribution capacity as Apple.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: Which should you buy?

Really, based purely on features, it’s hard to go wrong with either. They both have solid performance, and may even dispel some of the interest in buying their Pro versions now that you can get 2x digital zoom without hurting photo quality. We’d steer towards the Pixel 8 for reasons like price, photo software, a bigger display, and faster wired charging, but the iPhone 15 has things to recommend such as MagSafe, build quality, top-notch video recording, and the well-proven A16 Bionic chip.

If you’re already invested in one ecosystem or the other, it’s probably safest to stick with whichever phone belongs to it.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that many people are now bought into either the Android or Apple ecosystems, and choosing one sacrifices the advantages of the other. Android users have an easier time switching phone and accessory brands, for instance, as well as increased customization options, and tie-ins with the Google services even iPhone owners users every day. Apple’s deep cross-product integration is hard to beat however, allowing devices like iPhones, AirPods, Apple Watches, and Macs to work seamlessly with each other (most of the time). There’s a bit of that on the Android side, but even brands like Google and Samsung are playing catch-up.

Would you rather buy the Google Pixel 8 or Apple’s iPhone 15?

121 votes

If you’re already invested in one ecosystem or the other, it’s probably safest to stick with whichever phone is attached to it. If something has nudged you towards making a platform switch, now’s a pretty good time to change lanes, particularly now that we’ve got interchangeable power cables.

Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15: FAQ

The iPhone 15 shipped on September 22, while the Pixel 8 is due October 12.

Yes, although the base iPhone 15 only supports USB 2.0 data speeds, not USB 3.1 like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

No. They do come with USB-C cables.

Yes. The Pixel supports up to 18W with a 2nd gen Pixel Stand, or 12W with most Qi accessories. The iPhone 15 supports 15W with MagSafe chargers or 7.5W with Qi. Only the iPhone 15 is slated to get Qi2 compatibility.


‘I took this amazing picture of the Northern Lights – in the south of England!’


When we think of great locations in the UK to witness the Northern Lights (the aurora borealis), Scotland and the north of England are the places that first come to mind. 

This is all changing, however, says astrophotographer Josh Dury, who captured this image at Glastonbury Tor in Somerset – in the southwest of England and one of his regular haunts for shooting the stars. 


10 Events In Texas For October’s ‘Ring Of Fire’ And April’s Total Solar Eclipse


A “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse is coming to Texas and you don’t have much time left to make a plan. On October 14, 2023, the 125 miles wide path of the “ring of fire” solar eclipse will surge across the Lone Star state between 11:41 a.m. CDT and 12:00 p.m. CDT, according to, with a long partial solar eclipse either side.

Remote West Texas, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Padre Island National Seashore will all see the “ring of fire,” but so will Texas Hill Country—and for this particular region of rolling hills and vineyards, it’s merely a warm-up.

For just 177 days later something even rare and much more impactful will be seen from the likes of Kerrville, Bandera, Uvalde, Vanderpool, Junction and Rocksprings. On April 8, 2024—for the second time in under six months—these locations will see another partial solar eclipse, but at the event’s peak the sun will totally eclipsed.

MORE FROM FORBES8 Places To Watch The ‘Ring Of Fire’ In San Antonio, Texas

Celestial Good Luck

Given that total solar eclipses occur about once every 400 years in any given place on Earth, this is celestial good luck of the highest order. Not only that, but this region is considered to have the best prospects of a clear sky of the entire path through the U.S. (though it also crosses Mexico, where the odds are higher again). For both eclipses, NASA will be live streaming from Kerrville. Statistically, Junction and Kerrville have the best prospects of a clear sky for both eclipses, according to eclipse meteorologist Jay Anderson at

Check out this interactive Google map showing both eclipse paths and you’ll see exactly what’s going on as the 120 miles wide paths of the two solar eclipses, on October 14 and April 8, respectively, cross to create 14,000 square miles of lucky country. About 25,000-50,000 visitors are expected around October 14 and over 100,000 around April 8, according to MySanAntonio.

Here are 10 festivals and events in the crosshairs of the two eclipses, so being held twice—once for the “ring of fire” (considered something of a warm-up) and again in April for the total solar eclipse, America’s last until 2044:

1. Solar Eclipse Village, Uvalde

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:49 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 35 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:30 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 26 seconds

Bang on the centerline close to the Frio River in garner State Park, Solar Eclipse Village (October 14-16, free) is the place to head of you’re a science buff. A full program of lectures, activities and guided eclipse viewing, astrophotography sessions and a guided stargazing tour on the Saturday will be followed on Sunday by a preview of April 8’s total solar eclipse. Expect talks from eclipse experts including solar and astrophysicists, eclipse chasers, local weather experts, amateur astronomers, photographers, education providers and local planners. More information.

2. Kerrville River Festival

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 3 minutes 57 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:32 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 23 seconds

Held at Kerrville’s Louise Hays Park on the Guadalupe River is, this free event on October 14 will include a free kids zone, festival vendors, drinks, live music, with NASA in attendance to live stream the eclipse on a national broadcast. Camping is available at nearby Kerrville-Schreiner Park. Expect something similar on April 8. More information.

3. TexEclipse PreParty & TexEclipse Music Festival, Junction

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:48 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 15 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:32 p.m. CDT, 3 minutes 9 seconds

Two solar eclipses in under six months will be visible from Junction in the Texas Hill Country, which will host the TexEclipse PreParty for the “ring of fire” and, come April 8, 2024, the bigger TexEclipse Music Festival. The chilli-themed TexEclipse PreParty on October 13-14, 2023 costs $20 per day and will feature a chilli cook-off, best salsa contest, best chilli pepper outfit contest a margarita mix-off. More information.

4. Welcome Home Festival 2023 & KerrEclipse 2024 Folk Festival, Medina

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 24 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:31 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 23 seconds

Each spring since 1972 the 18-day Kerrville Folk Festival has been staged at Quiet Valley Ranch at Medina near Kerrville. Next year it gets a very special headliner when a totally eclipsed sun makes a guest appearance. It’s being held on April 5-8 with Welcome Home Fest preceding it on October 12-15. More information.

5. Stonehenge II Eclipse Celebrations, Ingram

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 9 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:31 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 25 seconds

The original 5,000 years old Neolithic monument in Salisbury Plains, England won’t get see a major solar eclipse until June 10, 2393, but this concrete art project run by the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram will get two in six months. Expect parking ($20 in October/$100 in April), some RV sites, food trucks, a beer tent and a performance in October by the New Buddy Holly Band. More information.

6. Eclipse UTOPiA, Utopia

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:49 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 49 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:30 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 24 seconds

The Four Sisters Ranch near Bandera, Texas is hosting the family-friendly Eclipse UTOPIA, a campout promising music and unparalleled views for a maximum of 1,500 guests. Return on April 8, 2024 to experience a total solar eclipse at the same location.

7. Bandera: DinoSolar Eclipse

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 34 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:31 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 6 seconds

The self-proclaimed “cowboy capital of the world,” Bandera’s Natural History Museum’s DinoSolar Eclipse on October 14 ($50 per car/truck) will include free crafts, t-shirts and dino tours, with an astronomer onsite for discussion and safe viewing via projections and a solar-filtered telescope. Venues across Bandera will host smaller events, including the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, Pipe Creek Roadhouse & Backyard, Pipe Creek Dance Hall, Bandera Brewery and Red Horse Saloon. April sees Bandera’s Mansfield Park Rodeo Arena host the Ground Zero Music Festival, which includes 20 bands, a full cowboy rodeo, stunt shows and a car and truck show.

8. Ring of Fire Eclipse Firewalk and Star Party, Tarpley

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 47 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:31 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 15 seconds

This scenic camping event at Luminous Heart Ranchette near Tarpley, Texas costs $293 for two nights (October 13-15). After the “ring of fire” a path of glowing embers will be prepared for a barefoot firewalk. More information.

9. Kickapoo Cavern State Park, Kickapoo

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:49 a.m. CDT, 3 minutes 2 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:29 p.m. CDT, 3 minutes 46 seconds

A park containing fourteen caves—though only one is open to the public–doesn’t at first glance seem like a great place to watch a solar eclipse. However, an organized viewing event on October 14 will take place not below ground, but at a bat deck where, suggests the website, observers may see some bats confused by the drop in light levels. The effect will be much more pronounced six months later. Passes for April’s event can be purchased up to 30 days in advance.

10. Creation Celebration, Medina

“Ring of fire” on October 14: 11:50 a.m. CDT, 4 minutes 39 seconds

Totality on April 8, 2024: 1:31 p.m. CDT, 4 minutes 19 seconds

This festival featuring Christian music (October 13-15, with a similar event in April) will include speakers, worship sessions and food trucks. More information.

Where To See The ‘Ring Of Fire’ Solar Eclipse

This annular solar eclipse must be viewed inside a narrow path across the surface of Earth that crosses Oregon, northern California, Nevada, Utah, northeastern Arizona, southwestern Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. After it leaves the U.S. it will be visible from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Brazil.

I’m an expert on eclipses—the editor of and author of The Complete Guide To The Great North American Eclipse of April 8, 2024. For the very latest on the “ring of fire” solar eclipse check my main feed for new articles each day.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.


Andrew O’Brien: Building a Culture of Safety & Health at Covia


Published 4 hours ago

Submitted by Covia

" "
Andy O’Brian

The support, encouragement, and latitude that I’ve experienced at Covia over the past 33 years has empowered me to achieve more in my career than I thought possible. From helping to build a team focused on the importance of safety and health to developing innovative solutions that go beyond the mining industry – the experiences I’ve garnered at Covia have helped shape both my personal and professional life.

The Power of a Good Mentor

I earned my undergraduate degree in Safety Engineering from a university in Ontario, Canada. A part of that program involved a co-op position with a local construction company. Upon graduating, I was offered a full-time position to continue working with that organization – providing safety consulting services.

After about 6-months into this role, a friend of mine connected me with a safety and health opportunity at a mine in Ontario. While I felt that I needed additional experience to fill the role, I interviewed anyway – hoping to learn from the experience. To my surprise, I was offered the position, and I’ve been happily working at Covia ever since.

My first role at Covia was a Safety Specialist at the Nepheline Syenite Operations. I handled the safety, health, and environmental affairs at the mine. One year into this position, Covia hired their first industrial hygienist who, soon after joining the team, became my mentor. Under his guidance, I earned a promotion to Regional Safety and Health Supervisor and, only a year later, was offered the position of Safety & Health Manager at the Corporate Safety and Health office.

Our team of three safety and health employees was small but efficient. For 13 years, we managed Covia North America, Covia Australia, and Covia Norway – traveling back and forth between the countries to support Covia’s international safety and health initiatives.

By the time my mentor was set to retire, I realized that this was a great opportunity to achieve my career aspirations of becoming a senior leader. I used this opportunity to encourage the executive team to elevate the focus and importance of safety and health and hire their first Vice President of Safety and Health. They loved the idea and encouraged me to pursue higher education to become the right candidate for the job. By 2012, I had earned my Master of Science degree in industrial hygiene and shortly thereafter was offered the position – giving me the chance to expand our safety and health programs across the globe, building a culture that sets safety as an even higher priority.

I am truly grateful for the guidance and support of my mentor. I don’t know if I would have become the leader I am today without his help.

Andy O'Brien in a race suit, leaning on a car.

Building a Culture of Safety & Health

I’m incredibly proud of Covia’s safety and health culture and commitment to Safety First. Covia’s willingness to afford a degree of latitude in my role has allowed us to take numerous steps to ensure that safety and health remains a daily and consistent focus for our Team Members, contractors, vendors, suppliers, and customers. There is an expectation that Team Members speak up regarding safety risks – making sure their voices are heard.

This desire to constantly improve our safety standards is what led to one of my proudest professional accomplishments, the creation of the clothes cleaning booth. Early in my career, we began using direct reading aerosol monitors to detect dust concentrations. It’s critical to the safety and health of our frontline Team Members to monitor dust levels – ensuring levels meet or exceed Covia’s strict standards.

Through careful analysis of this data, we were able to figure out where Team Members were when those peaks occurred, allowing us to focus more narrowly on fixing the parts of the process that caused this increase in exposure. It was through review and study of this data we discovered that it was the clothes that were causing elevated overexposures. We decided that we needed to find a new way to clean clothes efficiently and effectively.

Our team went through years of testing to find out what was the best cleaning process to fix this issue. Our research led us to a solution that not only greatly improved the safety and health of Covia Team Members, but across a wide array of industries – from coffee grinding facilities to discussions with NASA for the removal of moon dust after space walks.

This project, along with the development of the Helmet-CAM technology and the dust control handbook, are significant efforts I am still incredibly proud of today. These projects have improved working conditions and will continue to keep people safe and healthy for decades to come.

Andy O'Brien and another person with arms around each other in front of an arena "Pantherland".

Life in the Fastlane

Family is very important to me. The biggest accomplishments of my life are my children, Mackenzie and Maddie. In my free time I love to be outdoors. One of my favorite hobbies is astrophotography – taking photos of things you can’t see with the naked eye. I love being able to share those photos and memories with my family and friends.

Outside of family, work and astrophotography, I enjoy racing in the Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series run by the SCCA. In my class, we race older Mazda Miatas which aren’t powerful, but can corner at high speeds. I love the competitive spirit and the bantering that comes with the competition. The men (and women) I race against are ultra-competitive, always eyeing first place. My favorite part of the hobby is the technical aspect – making small setup changes to allow me to push the car to its limit.

It may seem a bit ironic that a safety professional would be participating in an activity as potentially hazardous as auto racing, but we do take driver safety very seriously, and hey, at least I don’t do anything crazy like jump out of perfectly mechanically sound airplanes!

The Foundation Toward a Safer Tomorrow

I’ve seen Covia grow considerably over my 33-year career. I can confidently say that there has never been a better time to be at Covia than right now. The current leadership’s emphasis and support for safety and health are at an all-time high with signs of continued momentum and support.

With new initiatives coming down the line, like our Safety Starts with Me program update, reincorporation of frontline workers into the design and management of our safety and health program and cross-plant inspections, we are closer than ever to greatly reducing and eliminating injuries and illnesses at our plants. Thanks to the support from the Covia executive leadership team, I feel empowered about the real impact the Safety and Health Team is making that goes beyond the mining industry. Who would have thought it would be this exciting to come into work every day!

" "
A photo from Andy’s astrophotography collection.


Covia logo



At Covia, we are committed to being more than just a leading provider of high-performance mineral and material solutions – we believe that our company can make a positive difference in the world. This belief is what drives our environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, which is influenced by both our journey as an organization and the events in the world around us.

Our commitment to operating as a responsible corporate citizen has been embedded into every aspect of our business for decades and serves as the foundation for Covia’s ESG initiatives. From our operations to our Team Members and the communities in which we live and work, we continue to define WHAT WE’RE MADE OF as more than the materials we produce, but the impact we can make in every interaction.

In 2021, we enhanced our approach toward accelerating ESG performance by developing our formal GOALS THAT INSPIRE: ESG 2030. These 10 goals, broken into our three core areas – Environmental Stewardship, Positive Social Impact and Responsible Governance & Ethics – were developed by Covia Team members across the company and are designed to drive tangible and measurable progress in areas where we can make the most impact.

We have the commitment and strategy in place to drive meaningful progress and we are pledging to make a positive differences for our people, our planet and our communities.

More from Covia


Starmus announces astrophotography school


Four experts will gather in Slovakia May 2024 to discuss the latest imaging techniques in the field.

The 7th Starmus Festival will take place in Bratislava, Slovakia, May 12–17, 2024. The organizers of Starmus are pleased to announce that in association with Starmus, we will again hold an astrophotography school to discuss imaging techniques enthusiasts can use to capture their own portraits of the night sky.

Organized by Michael Bakich, contributing editor of Astronomy Magazine, the astrophoto school will feature talks by three prominent expert astroimagers, and it follows the successful astrophoto school that took place at Starmus VI in Yerevan, Armenia, in 2022. Bakich is author of 14 books on astronomy and an expert, among other things, on solar eclipses. Bakich will open the school with a talk on what Astronomy Magazine editors look for in successful images of astronomical objects.

Three expert photographers will also present talks at the clinic. They include Damian Peach, world renown as one of the greatest planetary imagers on Earth, famous for his pictures of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and other worlds. Peach has a career that spans 30 years and will speak on a beginner’s guide to planetary imaging, a planetary imaging workshop, and on imaging comets.

Another veteran imager, Chris Schur, has been capturing portraits of the cosmos for more than 40 years. His photos have appeared in Astronomy magazine and in countless books. His specialties are comets and deep-sky objects. Schur will present talks on introductory wide-field imaging, introductory deep-sky imaging, and intermediate level deep-sky imaging.

Further, Martin Ratcliffe, former President of the International Planetarium Society and a regular columnist in Astronomy Magazine, will speak at the workshop. He has filmed total eclipses for various cinematic projects, is a planetarium production expert, and an avid amateur astronomer and skyshooter. Ratcliffe will speak on an introduction to solar imaging, creative panoramic astroimaging, and shooting for the Moon.

We look forward to many eager participants joining us for the Astrophotography School! More information will be forthcoming on


Ladybug Gallery Highlights Astrophotography – Door County Pulse


For the third year, Ladybug Gallery will be showing photographs by area astronomers during the month of October. 

This year, the work of Neville Public Museum and Door Peninsula Astronomical Society members will be included in the event. With the help of a new telescope and camera system, the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society can produce amazing views of our night sky, and members of the Brown County group use both their own equipment and data collected from remote telescopes around the world. Featured astrophotographs show nebulas, galaxies, star clusters and more.

An opening reception will be held Oct. 6, 5 – 8pm, when some of the featured photographers will be available to answer questions. The photos will remain on exhibit through the month.


How a Zero-Gravity Omega Watch Repair Revolutionized NASA’s Space Station Fixes


“I paid my way through college as a diesel mechanic for a logging outfit, so I feel comfortable with mechanical things and electric things, taking them apart and fixing them. I figured it all out myself. I didn’t have any instructions,” Pettit says. “As you can hear in the watch-repair video, I make the comment: ‘The tool you use at the frontier to fix it is the tool you use to get the job done.’”

However, 20 years ago, this repair job didn’t just fix Don’s Omega. As the chemical engineer and NASA’s oldest-serving astronaut (68) reveals to WIRED, it transformed the space agency’s supply protocol at an early stage in the ISS’s own life.

“At that point in time,” Pettit says, “the concept of doing repairs on orbit was to pull out a ‘box,’ put in a new box, and you don’t take the box apart. Up to that point, [the Space] Shuttle could carry 20 tons of supplies, and you’re flying four shuttles a year, and there was no problem getting spare parts. So your ‘repair mechanism’ wasn’t to take something apart, it was to replace these units.

“Then Columbia happened, while I was on orbit.” Pettit is referring to the disaster of February 2003, when the shuttle disintegrated on reentry having suffered damage to its heat-insulation tiles during launch 15 days prior. It meant Houston’s fleet was grounded for a full two and a half years, extending Pettit’s stay aboard ISS from two and a half months to five and a half, before returning aboard Roscosmos’ Soyuz capsule (a first for an American).

“We had to drop the [ISS] crew size to two, and we could barely keep the food and water supplies on station to support the crew. That brought in a whole new regime of how you do repairs. When I downlinked the watch-repair instructions, [around the time] Columbia happened, what this did was demonstrate that on orbit we could do fine repair.

“Taking a watch apart is kind of the paragon example of ‘fine repair.’ So the maintenance people at NASA started to think: ‘Let’s take our boxes apart and fix them on orbit.’”

Long before Instagram, Pettit’s video wasn’t for likes or “instant gratification,” as he puts it, though he now treasures the social medium for how meaningful it can be: “It track-proved a whole new mindset at NASA: the concept that astronauts aren’t klutzes; we aren’t just bulls in a china closet; we have the dexterity to do fine motor repair work on spaceship.”

With Congress having passed the NASA Authorization Act last year, extending US participation in ISS to 2030 and easing the transition to more commercial space operators than simply SpaceX and Boeing’s Starliner, it’s gratifying to know that more than 50 years since Jack Swigert relied on his Speedie to time the 14-second reentry burn aboard the stricken Apollo 13 capsule, Swiss watchmaking continues to play its part, up there.


Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: did Google finally beat Apple?


Renders of the Google Pixel 8 next to the Apple iPhone 15.
Digital Trends

Google has unveiled the Google Pixel 8 lineup at its Made by Google event in New York. Though there aren’t any drastic upgrades to the Pixel 8, Google made some smaller changes that are sure to be welcome among fans.

But Apple also just released the iPhone 15 lineup a month ago. So, if you’re in the market for a new smartphone, which one should you pick up? The Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 are both the baseline models for Google and Apple, respectively, so let’s take a closer look at these two phones.

Google Pixel 8 Event in 11 Minutes

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: specs

Google Pixel 8 Apple iPhone 15
Display 6.2-inch LTPS OLED Actua Display

1080 x 2400 resolution at 428 ppi

1,400 nits HDR brightness, 2,000 nits peak brightness

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED Display

2556 x 1179 resolution at 460 ppi

1,600 nits HDR brightness, 2,000 nits peak brightness

Always-on display Yes No
Refresh rate 120Hz – 60Hz 60Hz
Colors Obsidian, hazel, rose Black, yellow, blue, green, pink
Storage and RAM 128GB/256GB




Processor Tensor G3 A16 Bionic
Software Android 14 iOS 17
Rear cameras 50MP main

12MP ultrawide

48MP main

12MP ultrawide

Front camera 10.5MP 12MP
Biometrics Under-display fingerprint sensor

Face Unlock

Face ID
Battery 4,575mAh 3,349mAh
Charging 27W wired

18W wireless with Google Pixel Stand

12W Qi-compatible wireless charging

4.5W reverse wireless

27W wired

15W MagSafe wireless charging

7.5W Qi-compatible wireless charging

4.5W reverse wired

USB-C Yes Yes
Price From $699 From $799
Available from Google Store Apple

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: design

The black Google Pixel 8, being held by a person wearing a sweater.

On the surface, both the Google Pixel 8 and Apple’s iPhone 15 don’t look very different from their predecessors.

The Google Pixel 8 looks very much like the Google Pixel 7 that came before it. However, there are some minor changes. The Pixel 8 now has more rounded corners and symmetrical bezels, as well as a flat display. You’ll still have the traditional camera bar on the back with the metal finish, which houses the dual camera system. Google has a new satin frame enclosure with a polished back glass for the Pixel 8 (aka, the back is glossy). There are three beautiful colors for the Pixel 8: obsidian, hazel, and rose.

A green iPhone 15 on a green bench.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

With Apple’s iPhone 15, it looks pretty similar to the iPhone 14. You still have the flat edges and diagonal dual camera layout, but that’s where the similarities mostly end. Previous base model iPhones had glossy glass on the back, but the iPhone 15 uses a new “color-infused” glass that now has a unique, matte finish. Since it’s matte, fingerprints are less likely to show up.

The iPhone 15 also has more rounded edges compared to its predecessor, which gives it a more ergonomic and comfortable feel in the hand. Apple also uses an aluminum frame that’s pretty resistant to fingerprints, and it also makes the phone quite lightweight. There are five color choices for the iPhone 15: black, yellow, blue, green, and pink. However, most of the colors are quite pale, with pink being the best of the bunch.

Both phones look great, but with more color options and a more practical matte back, we’re giving the iPhone 15 the win here.

Winner: iPhone 15

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: display

Google Pixel 8 render against a pink background.
Google Pixel 8 Digital Trends

This year, Google actually made the display on the Pixel 8 a bit smaller than before. Previously, the Pixel 7 had a 6.3-inch display, but the Pixel 8 now has a 6.2-inch Actua LTPS OLED display with a 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution at 428 pixels per inch (ppi) and a 20:9 aspect ratio.

The Pixel 8 display also has a 120Hz refresh rate and reaches an HDR brightness of 1,400 nits and a peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits. The new Actua display yields 42% brighter levels than the previous Pixel 7.

The Google Pixel 8 also has an always-on display that features At a Glance and Now Playing. It uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus as well.

A green iPhone 15 in hand showing home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple’s iPhone 15 display is not quite as impressive, especially considering the price point. With the iPhone 15, you have a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with a 1179 x 2556 resolution, 19:5:9 aspect ratio, and 461 ppi. It reaches typical brightness at 1,000 nits, but can go up to 2,000 nits peak brightness outdoors. It also brings in the Dynamic Island from last year’s iPhone 14 Pro models, making it the new standard for the iPhone.

However, even though the iPhone 15 costs more than the Pixel 8, the refresh rate is only 60Hz, which is far below what the Pixel 8 (and most Android phones, for that matter) is capable of. Though the display features bright and rich colors with sharp text, scrolling won’t be as smooth, and it’s definitely noticeable if you’re used to a higher refresh rate. It also does not support an always-on display mode, which is something the Pixel 8 does offer.

Winner: Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: software and performance

Android 14 logo on a smartphone.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8 will ship with Android 14 out of the box, naturally. It also features Google’s new Tensor G3 chip and Titan M2 security coprocessor. The Pixel 8 also has 8GB RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage available.

With the Google Tensor G3, the machine learning model on the Google Pixel 8 is about 10x more complex than what was on the Google Pixel 6. Some specific features of Tensor G3 include the Pixel’s Call Screening feature that can detect and filter out spam calls, improved Clear Calling for high-definition and crystal clear phone calls, and Audio Magic Eraser, which can erase distracting sounds from your videos.

Google is also taking steps to future-proof its phones. The Pixel 8 will have Android 14 out of the box, and Google is promising OS and security updates for seven years. It will also release Feature Drops, which add helpful new features for the Pixel 8, every few months.

The display on a green iPhone 15.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple’s iPhone 15 comes with iOS 17. On the inside, it has the A16 Bionic that debuted last year with the iPhone 14 Pro models and has 6GB RAM. You have the option of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage.

The A16 Bionic is quite fast in terms of performance, and iOS 17 has been a solid performer. With iOS 17, you’ll have some new features like NameDrop, improved AirDrop, Standby mode, interactive widgets, Live Voicemail, and more. It may be a smaller update than previous years, but it does add a lot of quality-of-life improvements. Apple also tends to support its devices for around six years on average, so you can expect the iPhone 15 to last a while too.

Ultimately, which one is better really depends on whether you prefer iOS or Android overall. But if we had to pick a winner, the iPhone 15 takes it — at least for now. While the A16 Bionic is a proven chip with great performance across the board, it remains to be seen if Tensor G3 can seriously compete with it. Tensor G2 was riddled with efficiency and performance issues, and while those should be fixed for G3, we need to see for ourselves if that’s actually the case.

Winner: iPhone 15

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: cameras

Someone holding up the pink Google Pixel 8, while also wearing a pink shirt.

The Pixel 8 has a 50MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide. The main camera also has an f/1.68 aperture, 82-degree field of view, and digital zoom up to 8x with optical 2x zoom. The ultrawide lens has an f/2.2 aperture and a 125.8-degree field of view. The dual camera setup also has a single-zone laser detect autofocus, a spectral and flicker sensor, and optical and electronic image stabilization on the wide lens.

The selfie camera on the Pixel 8 is 10.5MP with an f/2.2 aperture, fixed focus, and 95-degree ultrawide field of view.

The rear camera should also produce some quality video. You can get 4K recording at 24/30/60 frames per second (fps) or 1080p recording at 24/30/60 fps. The front camera is capable of 4K recording at 24/30/60 fps. Google also has a macro focus video mode, cinematic blur and pan, astrophotography time lapse, and more.

Google Pixels have had a solid reputation for taking great photos, and the Pixel 8 is no exception. The upgraded camera system with the Pixel 8 has advanced image processing that will bring out vivid colors and striking details. There is also now a new Macro Focus that lets you take even better macro images. Another new feature is Best Take, which will combine similar pictures into a single image where everyone looks their best.

A green iPhone 15 showing the camera and matte glass back.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

On the iPhone 15, you also have a dual camera setup with a 48MP main and 12MP ultrawide. The main camera has an f/1.6 aperture, while the ultrawide has an f/2.4 aperture. Despite not having a telephoto lens, Apple made it possible to get 2x optical zoom with up to 10x digital zoom. For the selfie camera, the iPhone 15 has a 12MP lens with an f/1.9 aperture. The selfie camera also has autofocus, which you don’t get on the Pixel 8.

Apple has made some improvements in the camera quality this year with Smart HDR 5. Colors don’t appear as harsh or washed-out as in previous generations. There is also a new Auto Portrait feature for the entire iPhone 15 lineup. With Auto Portrait, as long as the camera detects a person or pet in focus, it automatically captures depth data even if you’re not in Portrait mode. When viewing the photo, you can toggle Portrait mode on or off as you please, and the feature even works for selfies too.

For video recording, Apple can be tough to beat. You have 4K recording at 24/25/30/60 fps or 1080p recording at 25/30/60 fps. The iPhone 15 also has a cinematic mode with shallow depth of field up to 4K HDR at 30 fps, HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps, and slo-mo video up to 1080p at 120/240 fps.

You get slightly more digital zoom and autofocus for the selfie camera on the iPhone 15. But the Pixel 8 has a slightly sharper 50MP main camera, and given Google’s track record, it should also provide excellent photographs. Until we’re able to put both cameras to the test, we’re calling this one a draw.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: battery and charging

Someone talking on the phone with the Google Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8 has a 4,575mAh battery, and Google promises 24-hour battery life with up to 72-hour battery life with Extreme Battery Saver — the same claim it made last year for the Pixel 7. It uses USB-C for fast charging up to 27 watts, which results in a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

For wireless charging, the Pixel 8 uses Qi-compatible wireless chargers and can wirelessly charge up to 18W with the Google Pixel Stand accessory. For other wireless chargers, it will cap out at 12W speeds. You can also use the Pixel 8 to charge up other devices with Battery Share reverse wireless charging, which is around 4.5W.

A green iPhone 15 showing battery life.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple packed in a 3,349mAh battery cell in the iPhone 15. In our tests, this should get you through the day with moderate usage. It’s an improvement over the 3,279mAh battery of the iPhone 14, but not by much.

The iPhone 15 has finally ditched Lightning for USB-C, so you no longer need a proprietary cable to charge the iPhone. However, Apple did not make any improvements to the overall charging speed, as the iPhone 15 still charges around the same 20W as before, so again, you’re looking at a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

As far as wireless charging goes, the iPhone 15 still has 15W MagSafe wireless charging speeds and 7.5W with Qi-compatible charging pads. Apple did add reverse wired charging, so as long as you have a cable, you can charge up other devices at 4.5W speed.

We still need to test the Pixel 8’s battery for ourselves, but there’s a good chance it could come out ahead. It’s significantly larger than the battery capacity of the iPhone 15, and when you combine that with the convenience of reverse wireless charging, it’s enough to give it the win.

Winner: Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: price and availability

A green iPhone 15 leaning on a lamp post.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 starts at $699 for the 128GB model, which is a $100 increase from the Pixel 7. Google justifies the price increase with a new design, upgraded cameras, and the Tensor G3. The Pixel 8 comes in three colors: obsidian, hazel, and rose.

You can preorder the Pixel 8 now, and it will be widely available to the public on October 12.

The iPhone 15 starts at $799 for the 128GB version. It comes in five colors: black, yellow, blue, green, and pink. However, most of the colors are very light and pale, though pink is a notable standout. Apple launched the iPhone 15 on September 22, and you can purchase it right now.

Google Pixel 8 vs. iPhone 15: verdict

Two Google Pixel 8 phones lying next to each other on a table.

If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck with a base model flagship, then it’s hard to beat the Google Pixel 8. For just $699, despite being more than its predecessor, you’re getting a lot more features this year.

For one, the Pixel 8 now features a 120Hz display, which is a bump up from the 90Hz of the Pixel 7. Even though it’s slightly smaller at 6.2 inches, the refresh rate is also higher, and the peak brightness is doubled. The display on the Pixel 8 is also double what Apple offers with the iPhone 15, which is only 60Hz and $100 more, which is disappointing.

Though the cameras on both phones are similar, the Pixel 8 edges out the iPhone 15 just slightly with the 50MP main shooter versus the 48MP main camera. Though the iPhone 15 does have the Auto Portrait mode, the Pixel 8 should be capable of taking some great photos as well, especially with the new Best Take feature, which looks especially useful if you take a lot of group photos.

Battery life could also work in the Pixel 8’s favor, offering a 4,575mAh battery compared to the iPhone 15’s measly 3,349mAh. Charging speeds for both phones are about the same with USB-C, but the Pixel 8 is capable of faster wireless charging overall (unless you want to use MagSafe). The Pixel 8 is also more convenient for reverse wireless charging, whereas the iPhone 15 can reverse charge, but only if you have a cable with you.

What does this all mean for you? If you know you want an iPhone, the iPhone 15 is a tough phone to beat. It’s expertly designed, very performant, and a pure joy to use. But if you want an Android handset — or you’re simply looking for the best deal possible — the Google Pixel 8 drives a pretty hard bargain.

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