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meteor showers

Let’s talk April showers.

Meteor showers, that is.

The Eta Aquarid shower begins around April 20 and lasts for roughly a month, promising scenes like this (if you’re near Devil’s Tower in Wyoming on a clear, clear night):

Photo by David Kingham via Flickr

The Eta Aquarids, shooting stars extraordinaire, are actually blazing bits of stellar debris that rain from the tail of Halley’s Comet.

“The Earth passes through the debris left behind by the comet every year in the spring and autumn,” explains Mother Nature Network. “The spring showers are called the Eta Aquarids because they’re named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate, the constellation Aquarius.”

Image courtesy of Till Credner of AlltheSky.com via Wikimedia Commons

Doesn’t that all sound somehow romantic?

Photo by Unsplash via Pixabay

Stargazing, you know, is one of my sweet spots …

There’s something about gazing up into a starry night sky that is deeply soul stirring. The sight of all that infinite diamond-studded darkness has the power to erase the trappings of modern life, bringing us back to a more primal part of ourselves, a part that is still exuberantly wild.

(Read more about my passion for dark skies here: Carpe Noctum—Seize the Night!)

But, back to the meteors at hand.

Rumor has it that the BEST time to get a glimpse of the Eta Aquarids show will be the crack of dawn on May 5 or 6 because the moon will be in hiding during its new (dark) phase.

If you spot them, do tell! Continue reading

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Summer Fun for Girls

As one of the premier providers of environmental education in the Palouse area of eastern Washington and northern Idaho, The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) that I founded way back in 1986 is always looking for new and creative ways to get people of all ages out and exploring the natural world.

That’s why this year, PCEI is offering STREAM Team—a week-long summer experience for girls entering their 7th-10th grade years that focuses on the STREAM fields: Science, Technology, Restoration, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

Coordinated and led by a team of female PCEI instructors, this program will feature outdoor application experiences with female community mentors who are professionals in the STREAM fields. They will share their journeys through STREAM—how they overcame the gender disparity in these fields, how their work helps the environment, and how we can do similar things with our lives.

When: Monday, June 27 to Friday, July 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: The PCEI Nature Center, 1040 Rodeo Drive, Moscow, Idaho (downtown pick-up and drop off available)

Cost: $50 (payment plans and scholarships are available; inquire at learning@pcei.org)

APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 22, 2016

Find more information and application forms at http://www.pcei.org/stream-team. Continue reading

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spring details

We always say, “It’s the little things that count.”

Indeed.

As we huddle here in the final stretch of winter, I find myself dreaming of details,

the little things that make spring so special.

So, as thoughts will do, mine hopped around until they landed on this idea:

A “can-you-guess” sort of quiz that gives you a close-up glimpse of the coming season’s lovely little things.

Scroll through the images and their multiple-choice identities, below, and give ‘em a guess. Some are more obvious than others, but all are dream-worthy. The answers are at the end.

1.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Garlic blossom
  2. Lily bud
  3. Moth’s nose

2.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Thumbelina’s crown
  2. Hibiscus
  3. Poppy

3.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Fish skin
  2. Butterfly wing
  3. Bird feather

4.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Grains of sand
  2. Semiprecious gems
  3. Bits of plastic

5.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Leaf
  2. Katydid wing
  3. Rice paper

6.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Bee wings
  2. Fairy wings
  3. Dragonfly wings

7.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Sand
  2. Coral
  3. Starfish

8.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Currant tomatoes
  2. Red currants
  3. Salmon eggs

9.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

  1. Sunflower
  2. Bumblebee
  3. Fern bud

10.

Photo by Nick Fedele via Flickr

  1. Starfruit seeds
  2. Lemon candy
  3. Hibiscus pollen

11.

Photo by Justus Thane via Flickr

  1. Vintage wood curio shelf
  2. Empty sunflower seed pod
  3. Honeycomb

12. And here’s one to help you appreciate the miniscule marvels of today (hint, hint):

Photo by Alexey Kljatov via Flickr

  1. Flake of mica
  2. Shard of glass
  3. Snowflake

 

Answers:

  1. Garlic blossom
  2. Poppy
  3. Butterfly wing
  4. Grains of sand
  5. Katydid wing
  6. Dragonfly wings
  7. Starfish
  8. Red currants
  9. Sunflower
  10. Hibiscus pollen
  11. Honeycomb
  12. Snowflake

 

  Continue reading