Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Spring Diaries: Space

    If we birders use our scopes for birding, why can't we also use them for viewing space? Last night we had the pleasure of viewing a full moon through my scope. It was really incredible seeing the craters - hey, I even saw the flag! (Just kidding.) 

A digiscoped shot I took of the moon on 3/22/16
    There was an exceptionally bright dot just above the moon, so I then aimed my scope on whatever that dot was. I magnified the lens. There were four stars vertically aligned behind this seemingly large object, and the object itself had at least two darker lines across its mostly faded background. I was pretty sure that this was the planet Jupiter, and I looked online to see if it were even possible. 
    You hear about and see photos of the solar system, but seeing it through a telescope with your own eyes is a completely different deal. We cannot see everything in space, but what we can see is still very much awe-inspiring. 
    Anyway, on the website EarthSky, I saw a post where it said Jupiter was at its closest to the moon on March 21. So yesterday when we viewed the planet, it was still quite close to the moon. So cool! This has definitely inspired me to pay more attention to the incredible night sky. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Spring Diaries: Pretty as a Pear



    I mentioned in my last post that Star Magnolias look like giant snowballs when in full bloom. Well, Bradford Pear trees do too.

    I admit that I've never really liked Bradford Pear trees. Right now they look amazing but their blossoms emit an unpleasant odor that's hard to describe. These trees also seem to be very weak, and their branches split easily against a strong breeze.

    Nevertheless, it's hard to deny their beauty...

...especially up close. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Spring Diaries: Signs of Spring

    For the next few weeks, likely through April or early May, I'll be writing a new blog series: The Spring Diaries! In this series, you'll get to witness spring through my eyes - the beauty of blossoming flowers, the refreshing growth of leaves on the trees, and the joyful return of our beloved migrants.


   Plants are blooming everywhere around town - trees such as Redbuds, Saucer and Star Magnolias, and Red Maples; bushes like the golden Forsynthia; and various bulbs like Crocuses, Daffodils, and Hyacinths.

    Probably my favorite is the Redbud. Their warm, rosy clusters of flowers mirror the warming spring weather, and their yellow centers reflect the bright, happy sun.
    I love our neighbor's tree, which, in full bloom, looks like a giant snowball. For years I've wondered what type of tree it was, but I think I've finally identified it as a Star Magnolia. To me, the magnolia's soft, white blossoms symbolize a fresh, clean, new start.

    Our other neighbor has a few Crocuses sprouting in his garden bed. I can imagine that in a few weeks I'll be seeing bumble bees buzzing over its pollen!