Jeffers Foundation

PHENOLOGY & ASTRONOMY

Data from Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac (Jim Gilbert for Phenology and Rod Nerdahl for Astronomy)

Phenology

Phenology: Third Week of October

Beavers are busy cutting trees to store for winter food, which consists mainly of bark from branches of aspens, alders, birches, maples, and willows. Wild cranberry fruit is ripe in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin bogs, and the commercial cranberry harvest is underway in northwestern and central Wisconsin. Each year there is an influx of American coots on quite a few southern Minnesota lakes. Flocks containing 1,000 or more of these gregarious coots bob on the water in tight flotillas or rafts.

View the October Phenology Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>

Species of the Month

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica)

Muskrat (<em>Ondatra zibethica</em>)
Don Specht

A common herbivore (plant eater) of Minnesota wetlands, the muskrat has rich brown fur with a dense mass of thick under-fur that is impervious to water. The size of a small house cat, this aquatic mammal has a year-round appetite for the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds of many water plants, such as cattails, water-lilies, and rushes. In addition they use these aquatic plants, with some mud mixed in, to build their dome shaped homes in the water, where they spend the winter and raise their young. Muskrat houses stick up above the water level a couple of feet. Their eating and building habits help remove emergent vegetation, which provides grebes, ducks, and geese with open water. In the spring and summer, their dome homes provide nesting platforms for Canada geese and other birds, and resting and sunning places for turtles and countless other animals.

Astronomy: October

Highlights
Highlights
Talk about your Mr. October...! The ancients used the sky as their calendar. When Sirius appeared in the pre-dawn sky, the Egyptians knew it was time for the Nile's seasonal flood and they needed to get planting. Though our phones are now are source of all things schedule related, those benchmarks are still there, reminding us of our past dependance on the night sky. For example, The Great Square of Pegasus returns to the sky each October. Though its character is the legendary flying horse, I can't help but see a different pattern - a baseball diamond - reminding us it's World Series time. It's also a reminder of how our lives were once inexorably linked to the heavens above.

Morning Stars

Venus reaches Inferior Conjunction on October 26, passing between the Earth and the Sun and moving into the morning sky, though it will take a few weeks into November before it is clear of the Sun's glare.

Evening Stars

Though separated from the Sun by 30 degrees on October 1, Venus sets at the same time for most of the month. The ecliptic makes a shallow angle with the western horizon and keeps Mercury close to the horizon all month. Jupiter gets a visit from a skinny Crescent Moon on October 11 as it begins to exit the evening sky, plunging toward the Sun and setting just an hour after sunset by month's end. It passes within three degrees of Mercury on October 28, as Mercury climbs higher in the sky throughout the month. Saturn stays to the south all month, visited by the Moon on October 14. Mars starts the month in the southeast 22 degrees above the horizon an hour after sunset, gets a visit from the Moon on October 17 and 18, and sets at about 1 am all month.

Sun Declination

View the October Astronomy Information from the Freshwater Society Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendar and Almanac >>

LOOK FOR

Peak day for autumn foliage colors (Twin Cities):
2016 October 14
2015 October 14
2014 October 14
2013 October 13
2012 October 1

TEACHER PHENOLOGY PREVIEW

TEACHER ASTRONOMY PREVIEW

October ASTRONOMY PHENOMENA

2nd, Last Quarter Moon - 4:45 am

5th, Moon perigee (227,666 miles) - 5:26 pm

8th, Draconids Meteor Shower peak - 12:59 pm

8th, New Moon Freezing (Ojibwe) - 10:47 pm

14th, Mercury 6.82 degrees north of Venus - 10:20 am

16th, First Quarter Moon - 1:02 pm

17th, Moon apogee (251,175 miles) - 2:15 pm

21st, Orionids Meteor Shower peak - 6:07 am

24th, Full Moon (Harvest Moon) - 11:45 am

29th, Mercury 3.27 degrees south of Jupiter - 10:39 pm

31st, Last Quarter Moon - 11:40 am

31st, Moon perigee (230,034 miles) - 3:23 pm

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