There was a bewildering assortment of calendars for sale as the New Year approached.
But aside from the monthly pictures, most calendars convey the same information — the days of the week, the national holidays, religious occasions, start of each season and perhaps the dates when we switch to Daylight Saving Time, or switch back to Standard Time.
Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar for 2013, in the form of a desk calendar allows you to follow a number of cycles in nature as well as celestial happenings. This calendar is spiral bound so you can open it up and learn what is special about nature in each of the 52 weeks of 2013.
Each week and each season (a fold out) features beautiful stylized artwork by Hardman.
You will be told when a particular planet leaves or enters the evening sky, when two planets line up, when the moon lines up with a particular planet and meteor showers.
The sun band is a horizontal line whose width is proportional to the amount of daylight at that time of the year. Below the sun line are diagrams of the moon’s lighted shape every few days. Towards the bottom of the artwork are a series of peaks that represent both the strength and weakness of the tides. (The tides are strongest when the moon and sun are lined up (twice a month) and weakest when the sun and moon are at right angles (the half full phases).)
I found the entries about animals and plants for that time of the year fascinating. The Ecological Calendar is designed for the temperate and far northern regions of the northern hemisphere (includes our area), where most humans live.
Here are some nuggets from the Ecological Calendar.
In early January, mention is made of the Snowy Owl, which consumes over a thousand lemmings each year. Its feeding is made easier by its white coat, which blends in with the arctic tundra.
The Humpback whales’ songs are heard during their long swims to their breeding areas. The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, which lives in the Arctic Ocean year around can have a dome eight feet across with tentacles 150 feet long.
In January and February, Black Bears give birth to their cubs in their winter den. The bear cubs remain with their mother for over a year.
In February, the calendar mentions that Painted Turtle Hatchlings produce a natural anti-freeze that allows them to survive bitterly cold temperatures. If attacked, a herd of Musk Oxen form a circle with their behinds pressed together. Their long, thick coats protects them down to -40 Fahrenheit degrees.
In March, the calendar states that 95 percent of the entire Grey Bat population hibernates in less than 10 large limestone caves in the southeastern U.S. Several hundred thousand of these bats can occupy one cave.
Dall’s Sheep search for windswept cliffs where there is little snowfall. There these sheep feed on frozen lichen and moss exposed by strong winds.
Dandelions appear in mid April. Their name in Old French means “Lion’s tooth.” These plants are eaten by deer and rabbits.
The male birds of the Snowy Egret have their yellow feet turn to a orange red hue. Their mating dance involves keeping their bills skyward while their bodies undulate up and down.
Around the start of May, the female Mexican red-knee Tarantula fertilizes her eggs with sperm stored in her body for months. She deposits the fertilized eggs in a silk sac that she places between her fangs. Weeks later the baby Tarantulas will emerge.
The female whip-poor-will lays her eggs so that they will hatch when the moon is a waxing (growing) crescent. The following 10 days of evening moonlight are used by the female whip-poor-will to collect insects for her chicks.
Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar for 2013 is published by Pomegranate Communications Inc. Box 80822 in Petaluma, California 94975 and on the internet at www.pomegranate.com . A local book store can order it for you.
SKY SIGHTS AHEAD In the 6 p.m. southwestern dusk tonight, a slender crescent moon may be seen close to the horizon. If you have a flat horizon, you may catch sight of the planet Mars below the moon.
This coming Friday, the moon will appear half full (1st quarter) in the southwestern evening sky. This is the best time to observe the lunar craters and mountain ranges with a small telescope.
Along the moon’s straight edge, the sun there is rising, lighting up the craters’ raised rims and mountain peaks.
Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at email@example.com . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.
There was a bewildering assortment of calendars for sale as the New Year approached.
- Bob Doyle - Astronomy
It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore
At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.
Fronts, highs, lows determine weather
Weather news on television and internet focus on violent weather, extreme temperatures and flooding.
A long and winding road faces our food
Last week’s column dealt with organs you can do without, our DNA (molecular blueprint for our bodies) and hair. My reference is “Body: Discover What’s Beneath Your Skin,” a Miles Kelly Book, written by John Farndon and Nicki Lampon and published in 2010. This column will consider finger and toe nails, breathing and coughing, saliva, mucus and your food’s long and torturous journey. Most cities and mid sized towns have nail shops where you can have your finger nails and toe nails adorned. Nail painting can be traced back 5,000 years.
Here’s a look at what goes on inside you
In high school, my favorite science course was biology. I can remember Mr. Munley in his wheelchair. Our class went on a field trip to the University of Miami Medical School where we saw the cadavers used by the medical students.
Moon-watching easy when you know how
Long before the first writing (scratches on clay tablets) appeared, our early ancestors noticed that the moon went through a regular cycle of shapes in about 30 days.
Here’s how you can tell the stars, planets
How can one tell one star from another at night? It’s a matter of knowing the sky areas (constellations).
Smithsonian guide to stars is a good one
At a local book store, I yielded to temptation and bought “Stars and Planets,” a Smithsonian Nature Guide written by four authors. Dinwoodie, Gater, Sparrow and Stott. It’s another Dorling Kindersley product with ISBN 978-0-7566-9040-3 and a 2012 copyright. “Stars and Planets” is a trade size paperback that is beautifully illustrated with appealing diagrams. “Stars and Planets” begins with the biggest topic, the Universe. There is a striking visual showing the known universe on the hugest scale, a delicate lacework of superclusters of galaxies with large voids. It resembles a bubble bath!
Think a little more and be less frazzled
Last Sunday’s column dealt with using technology carefully in education. What about technology in everyday life? There is a marvelous book “The Thinking Life,” by P.M. Forni, of The Johns Hopkins University which addresses this issue as well as timeless suggestions for living by Greek and Roman thinkers. “The Thinking Life: How To Thrive in the Age of Distraction” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2011 with ISBN 978-0-312-62571-9. Dr. Forni also wrote “Choosing Civility” and “The Civility Solution”.
Technology helps with learning, but take care
Since I have been involved in teaching, two different technologies have been applied to learning at the secondary and collegiate level. The first was video (from videocassettes to DVDs) where a student or class might watch a presentation of some historical event, or a set of scientific principles or even a simulated exploration of the human body.
Here are numbers that apply in our lives
One of the best exercises is walking. Cardiologists suggest that each of us walk 10,000 steps per day. Assume each step is 0.5 meters or 19.7 inches. Then 10,000 steps would cover 5,000 meters or 3.11 miles. But studies find that the average American (from age 4 and up) takes only 2,000 steps/day or 1 kilometer.
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- It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore