Month: August 2022

Night Sky

By Rick Smith

The Perseids are back! Well… sort of.

A shower of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in 2009 in this NASA time-lapse image. (NASA/JPL)

Usually bringing one of the most vivid annual meteor showers visible in Earth’s night sky, commonly delivering 50-100 “shooting stars” per hour at its height, the Perseids will peak Aug. 12 and 13. There’s just one problem: the full Moon.

“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour,” he said, “but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best.” The Moon is so much brighter than anything else in the night sky, and it will wash out all, but the very brightest Perseids as they streak through our atmosphere and burn up far overhead.

As the full Moon subsides, the Perseids will begin to wane Aug. 21-22 and cease completely by Sept. 1. They’re the debris remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, a lumbering “snowball” composed of ice, rock, and dust, which orbits our Sun every 133 years. The comet itself was last visible to us in 1992 and won’t pass our way again until 2125.

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Katie’s Sightings

By Katie O’Hara Kelly

Butterflies & Moths!

Common Sheep Moth – Hemileuca eglanterina

We came across this pair of of Common Sheep Moths mating in the Lakes Basin this week, around 7,500′ in elevation! I’ve never seen these beautiful moths before, and their coloring was exquisite! They were fairly large, with a wingspan of about 3″. We watched them for a good 5 minutes and they were still mating when we left! Here’s what butterfliesandmoths.org has posted about them.

“Adults emerge in early morning and mate in late morning. Females lay eggs in rings on plant stems. Eggs overwinter and hatch in April and May. Young caterpillars feed together in groups and when they are older they feed alone. Fully-grown caterpillars pupate in loose cocoons in the leaf litter or in burrows in soft soil, and adults emerge from July-September. At high elevations and northern latitudes, 2 years are needed to complete development. The cocoons overwinter and in the spring the adults emerge and start the cycle again. Caterpillar Hosts: Mountain lilac (Ceanothus), mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus), bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata), bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), snowberry (Symphoricarpos), currant (Ribes), wild rose (Rosa), willow (Salix) and others. Adult Food: Adults do not feed. Habitat: From sea level to at least 8400 feet in a variety of habitats including chaparral, pine and redwood forests, oak woodlands, and riparian areas.”

Ceanothus Silk Moth – Hyalophora euryalus

Another local moth that I’ve seen in the past is the large Ceanothus Silk Moth. These gorgeous adult moths are large, with a wingspan of 3.5″-5″! As adults, their primary purpose is to reproduce, and do not feed. After mating and laying eggs the adults soon die. Again, here’s what butterfliesandmoths.org has posted about them.

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On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

What Is a Library? (continued)

Picking up where we left off last week, at the start of the 19th century, there were virtually no public libraries such as we understand libraries to be today: provided from public funds and freely accessible to everyone. Only one important library in Britain, Chetham’s Library in Manchester, was fully and freely accessible to the public. There was, however, a whole network of libraries on a private or institutional basis. There were also subscription libraries, often starting out as book clubs, which charged high annual fees or required members to purchase shares in the library. Such libraries tended to focus on specific subject areas, such as biography, history, philosophy, theology, travel, etc, rather than works of fiction. Access was often restricted to members. One of these was the Library Company of Philadelphia, started in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin. From this, subscription libraries gained popularity across the colonies, and, by the 1750s, a dozen more subscription libraries had appeared in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

Another form of library also appeared, the circulating library. They came about due to the increasing production and demand for fiction, promoted by commercial markets. They often charged subscription fees, and offered serious subject matter as well as popular novels. They were first and foremost, a business venture, profiting from lending books to the public for a fee.

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Here Back East

By Lenny Ackerman

Camp with the Kids

My adult children and grandson were waiting for me curbside at Bangor Airport. They had all arranged to gather at LaGuardia to fly up together for their exclusive week with Dad at camp. My son-in-law Peter was on his cell catching up with business as my daughters waved me over. After quick hugs and hellos, everyone piled in the Bronco, anxious to get to camp–but not before our planned stop for lunch at Governors, a family restaurant which is part of a chain exclusive to Maine.

A family week together at camp has become an annual event for the past several years. When we are all under one roof again it is immediately like old times, though we have had our separate homes for years now. Shared meals and campfire stories of times past and plans for times to come reconnect us and deepen bonds.

I planned to take everyone to Sucker Lake for fishing and a cookout. Kara and Peter opted out for yoga and conference calls. Brooke and Billy drove with me in the Bronco over the snowmobile path to the entrance of the lake area. A bumpy ride but the Bronco handled it as advertised. Greg met us there with a portable battery-operated motor for the rowboat moored at the shore. The motor was silent so the quiet of the lake was maintained as we traveled the short distance to a small island for a barbeque. Greg started his campfire while I waded into the water for a few casts. Billy tried his hand at wading and casting alongside me and I noticed he was more confident in his technique this year.

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