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 February

Between now and late-March is a good time to prune grape vines. Common mergansers, with their long-pointed, serrated orange bills, spend their lives fishing in streams that do not freeze. If you drive in the southern half of Minnesota, expect to see pairs and small flocks of gray-brown colored horned larks along country roads and in fields.

Feb. 17, 2017: New record high of 63 degrees F for the Twin Cities, where about 90 percent of the landscape was free of snow. Excellent maple sap runs reported.

Feb. 21, 2017: Record high of 62 degrees F for the Twin Cities. Fuzzy silver-gray pussy willow catkins popped out. At the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, honey bees visited common snowdrop flowers and vernal witch-hazel shrubs were in full bloom.

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

Species of the Month

Trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator)

Trumpeter swans <em>(Cygnus buccinator)</em>
Don Breneman

Minnesota hosts two species of swans - trumpeter and tundra. Many trumpeter swans, the largest of our waterfowl, are year-round residents of Minnesota, and we encounter winter flocks where there is open water. The common name comes from their trumpet-like calls. They once disappeared from Minnesota due to market hunting but have been reintroduced with great success. Nesting season is May through June. Often confused with trumpeters, flocks of tundra swans move through Minnesota in the spring and fall. While their features are similar, tundra swans are generally smaller and most often have small yellow patches near their eyes.

Astronomy: February

Highlights
Highlights
The Moon starts the year with a Super Moon Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs up to three times a year, when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. When the Moon is in the Earth's shadow, the only light hitting it is the sunlight refracted along the edge, through the Earth's atmosphere. This is what gives the Moon color during totality. If the Earth's atmosphere is clear, the Moon will be a bright rust, almost orange color, during totality. However, if there are pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere, little sunlight gets through, and the eclipsed moon can appear nearly black. Here are times to see this event:
Partial begins, 9:34 pm | Total begins, 10:41 pm | Greatest eclipse, 11:12 pm Total ends, 11:43 pm | Partial ends, 12:51 am

Morning Sky

Saturn starts the new year at Solar Conjunction, and is climbing out of the Sun's glare towards Venus and Jupiter, joined by a crescent Moon on 1/1. Mercury begins the month lost in the glare of the Sun, moving to Superior Conjunction on 1/29. Venus starts the year high in the sky, reaching Greatest Western Elongation on 1/6. This is the best time of the year to view Venus, in the southeastern sky before sunrise. Within 2.5 degrees of Jupiter on 1/22, it will get another lunar visit on 1/31.

Evening Sky

Autumn constellations dominate the south at sunset, pushing the stars of the Summer Triangle (Deneb, Vega, and Altair) off to the west for their final appearance this season. Mars spends all month in the southwest at sunset. The Moon stops by on 1/12 and continues to Aldebaran on 1/17. Notice the extreme altitude of the Moon at 8:30 pm on 1/18: it is 65.5 degrees above the southern horizon! This is quite close to where the Sun is located during the day, when it reaches its highest altitude of the year on 6/21, the Summer Solstice.

Sun Declination

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

LOOK FOR

What to Look For 01, 2019

First northern cardinal "what-cheer, cheer, cheer..." spring song heard (Minnetonka):
2017 January 21
2016 January 8
2015 January 8
2014 January 9
2013 January 5

TEACHER PHENOLOGY PREVIEW

TEACHER ASTRONOMY PREVIEW

February ASTRONOMY PHENOMENA

2nd, Earth at perihelion; Earth-Sun distance 91,401,983 miles - 11:20 pm

3rd, Between midnight and dawn 1/4: Quadrantids Meteor Shower peak

5th, New Moon - 7:28 pm

8th, Moon apogee; 252,350 miles - 10:28 pm

13th, Mercury 1.71° south of Saturn - 4:48 am

17th, After sunset: Moon near Aldebaran in east

20th, Full Moon Super Moon Great Spirits (Ojibwe) - 11:16 pm

20th, Total Lunar Eclipse begins 8:36 pm, ends 1:48 am on 1/21

21st, Moon perigee; 222,042 miles - 1:59 pm

21st, Venus 2.43° north of Jupiter - 11:48 pm

22nd, Mid-evening: Moon near Regulus rising in east

27th, Last Quarter Moon - 3:10 pm

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