First, did you get to see any of the Lyrid Meteors this week? As I write this, clouds are overhead but maybe it will be clear. Don’t forget to see the article from last week for meteor watching tips.
During the next week you’ll have a chance to see how the moon “grows” each evening. So, this evening, just as its getting dark, find a spot where you can go to see the sunset. I hope the clouds stay away for you! A little above the horizon and to the left (south) of where the sun went down you can see the thin crescent moon. Tonight, April 25, you will see the orange star, Aldebaran just south of the Moon. Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation, Taurus, the Bull, and this star represents one of his eyes. Also, you can’t miss Venus above the Moon. Look carefully at the moon. My mom used to call this a “fingernail Moon” because it looks like the thin edge of one of your
fingernails. Here’s a picture I took of the Moon in 2017 that looks like it does this Sunday.
Isn’t it odd how American society has had to designate time periods to remind ourselves to honor things we should be celebrating all the time? African American Heritage month, Native American Heritage month, Grandparents’ Day, and Earth Day are a few examples among many. April 22nd marked the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day celebration.
But I’ve never seen a meteor storm. I’m not talking about your 5 or 10 falling stars in an hour but an honest to goodness 4th of July spraying of sparks, kind of event. If you’re my age, think about the lines from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High when he sings about seeing it “raining fire from the sky”. But I never tire of the thrill of seeing just one pea-sized speck from a comet or asteroid leaving a lasting trail of light across a starry sky.
This April’s Lyrid meteor shower doesn’t promise to be a storm but it does promise to give you and your family a chance to share in an adventure you’ll talk about for a long time.
I just finished reading a book by Zoe Weil called The World Becomes What You Teach. Zoe Weil is director of the Institute for Humane Education. Both the title of the book and of the institute drew may interest.
Did you notice how big the full moon was before clouds closed in on April 8? Maybe you heard someone call it the “Super Moon”. If you’d like to learn more about that, read this month’s “The Skies over the Pinnacles” or go to NASA’s website at www.NASA.gov and type in “Super Moon” in the Search Box. The moon always seems to be changing its shape doesn’t it? You might have also heard terms like “New Moon” or “First Quarter Moon”. Curious? Read on!
In the formal classrooms of the 21st Century, children rarely have the opportunity to explore the natural world, and they rarely have the opportunity to let their curiosity guide their explorations. This time when we are all asked to be healthy at home seems a perfect opportunity to rekindle the spark of curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world. I see adults posting on social media things they have never before noticed about the world around them, but in this time of slowing down, they have once again begun to notice.
Did you know that hundreds of years ago there were no clocks? Just like now, there were people who were clever and they realized that the sun, moon and stars always rose in the east, traveled across the sky and set in the west. They also knew that certain stars were up at night only at certain times of the year and that the stars that were close to the sky’s north pole, near the star called Polaris, never set. These stars just went round and round Polaris like a big
Just like now, it was important to know what time of the year it was so they knew when to
celebrate religious holidays and for farmers to know when to plant their crops. Would you like to be able to tell time without a clock, your watch or a smart phone? The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (astrosociety.org) provided the diagram below. Follow the instructions and you can tell “star time”.
Here’s a simple game to play with your family. Choose any object around your house— the simpler, the better. Perhaps you pick up an ink pen. Each of you take a turn sharing whatever you can imagine that object could be used for. You can imagine it far larger than it actually is, or far smaller, or just the same size. For example, pens have long been used as paper shooters—but what about as straws? Or maybe it could be a bridge for ants. Or a baton for someone leading a parade. Or if it was much larger, perhaps it could be a water pipe. You get the idea…Keep going until you absolutely run out of ideas and then pick another simple object, say…a paper clip, then start again.