Monday, June 27, 2011

Near Miss or Look out Below!

The "things movies are made of" happened at 1:14PM this afternoon. A small asteroid named 2011 MD whizzed by the earth a mere 7,500 miles above the coast of Antarctica, 2,000 miles south by southwest of South Africa . That would put it beneath some of our geosynchronous satellites which orbit 22,236 miles high. 2011 MD was only discovered last Wednesday (June 22) by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico that scan the skies for near-Earth asteroids. The best estimates suggest that this asteroid is between 29 to 98 feet wide, about the size of a tour bus. This makes it too small to survive the plunge through our atmosphere. Also there is little chance that the rock would hit one of the our satellites. They are too few and too far apart. Objects this large usually fly by the earth every 6 years but not all of them are discovered. On Feb 4, 2011, asteroid 2011 CQ1 came within 3,500 miles of us. Rocks that zoom by this close are jettisoned back out into space as shown in the picture provided by Scientist frequently use this doglegged shift in trajectory when propelling satellites through space. The acceleration caused by it means less fuel consumption by the satellite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Today is the “Longest” day of the year - the Summer Solstice. Called a variation of Midsummer by most northern cultures, this marks a day of great celebration. When man determined time by the sun and moon, midsummer was the middle of the growing season. Most celebrations took on a joyous quality. At Midsummer food was easier to find, herbs could be gathered and crops had been planted in anticipation of a bountiful harvest. It was considered by some cultures a good time to wed as it fell between the intense work of planting and harvesting of crops. The “downtime” could be spent in preparation and celebrations. In China it was a time of balance. Midsummer celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces. It complemented the winter solstice which celebrated the heavens, masculinity and yang forces.

Now with modern technology driving our lives, it is barely noticed. However, the natural world will be resetting its internal clocks to reflect the eventual slide toward the cold season. Now is the time for second clutches of eggs or litters and for the young to start their intense survival training. Sunlight drives the natural rhythm of plants. The work of photosynthesis has reached its peak and now food production will decline. With the gradual decrease in sunlight some plants will start setting buds for the next growing season. We owe this all to the 23.5ยบ tilt of Mother Earth. It causes sunlight to be unevenly distributed over our planet’s surface as it orbits around the sun. This creates the seasons – the main driver behind the Rhythm of Life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Women's Hiking June 21 - 23

Join us for our final week of hiking before summer vacation.
The DC Women's Hiking Group will be hiking at Bennett's Pond on Tues., Jun. 21 and Thurs., Jun. 23rd.
From Rt. 7 heading north, take a left onto Bennett's Farm Rd. and the parking area will be on the right hand side of the road.
From Rt. 35 leaving town, take a left onto Limestone Rd. then take a right onto Great Hill Rd.
Follow Great Hill to end and take a right onto Bennett's Farm Rd.
Parking area for Bennett's Pond will be on the left side of the road.
Meet at 9:30am.
The hiking group will start up again in the fall.

Have a wonderful summer!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Women's Hiking June 14 & 16

The DC Womens Hiking Group will hike Tues., Jun. 14th and Thurs., Jun. 16th at Lake Windwing in Ridgefield.
Take Rt. 35 to Limestone Rd. Follow as Linestone turns into Bennetts Farm Rd.
Take a right onto South Shore Dr. which is across from Ridgebury Elementary School.
Turn left into the parking area.
Meet at 9:30am.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Year of the Turtle

Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the other side most likely! It is that time of year when female turtles venture from ponds and woodlands to find good nesting sites to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, they are often killed or injured by passing cars.

The Eastern Box Turtle pictured is distinguishable by its high domed shell with sunburst patterns of orange or yellow on a dark background. Box turtles are able to pull themselves completely into their "boxes" or shells, hence their name. Since they take about ten years to reach maturity and lay only a few eggs at a time, their numbers are heavily affected by loss and fragmentation of habitats, as well as road mortalities. They are currently classified as a species "of special concern" in Connecticut.

The Connecticut DEP has declared 2011 the Year of the Turtle to make people aware of the decline of these reptiles. Of the twelve species found in our state, seven are currently categorized as endangered, threatened, or of special concern.

Help a turtle across the road if you can safely do so, but do not relocate it. Be careful of snapping turtles as their powerful jaws are dangerous. Never keep a wild turtle as a pet as many species are protected by law. Instead, observe it in its natural surroundings and hope that it lives to reach 100 years old, as is possible with these long-lived creatures.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike Tues., Jun. 7th and Thurs. Jun. 9th at Tarrywile Park in Danbury.
Take 84 to the Airport Exit.
Take a right at the light at end of ramp.
Follow road to stop sign and make sharp right turn onto Southern Blvd.
Stay on Southern Blvd. There will be signs for Tarrywile Park.
Follow signs and make a right to Tarrywile.
Immaculate H.S. will be on the left and the parking lot for Tarrywile will be on the right side.
Meet at 9:30am.