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 April 2019

Time to uncover garden roses. Gardeners plant potatoes and onions, and seed-in leaf lettuce, radishes, peas, and spinach. These spring mornings are the best time of year to hear the symphony of bird music. Listen for tree swallows chattering, mourning doves cooing, ring-necked pheasants crowing, northern cardinals whistling, common crackles squawking, red-winged blackbirds trilling, Canada geese honking, American robins singing "cheer-up," woodpeckers drumming, and more.

April 17, 2017: Quaking aspens began leafing out. Apricot trees displayed light pink flowers. At River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, four species of wrens - house, marsh, sedge, and winter - were heard singing.

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

Species of the Month

Franklin's gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Franklin's gulls <em>(Leucophaeus pipixcan)</em>
Dave Magnuson

After wintering along the Pacific Ocean coasts from Guatemala to Chile, Franklin's gulls migrate into or through Minnesota in April. These 14-inch long birds with a three-foot wingspan nest in prairie marshes from southern Canada to South Dakota and western Minnesota. They feed on insects collected from the air, soil, and wetlands, and small fish. In the fall, hundreds and even thousands roost on some southern Minnesota lakes. At sunrise these gulls leave their lake roosts in whirling flocks to forage for miles over the surrounding countryside, and often follow farmers in fields to get unearthed grubs and other insects and worms exposed behind plows.

Astronomy: April

Highlights
Highlights
The ecliptic is an imaginary line that traces the Sun's path across the sky. While the daily east to west motion of the Sun (due to the Earth's rotation) is easier to see, the Sun also moves a little less than one degree to the east each day. Along this line, you will also find the planets of our solar system. As the Earth's axis is tilted, the ecliptic runs 23.5 degrees above and 23.5 degrees below the Earth's celestial equator. This is why the Sun is high in the sky during summer, and low during winter. This month, Jupiter and Saturn appear low on the southern horizon. This is the portion of the ecliptic which the Sun will traverse at the end of December when it reaches solstice, just 21.5 degrees above the horizon. With the Sun this low, winter makes perfect sense.

Morning Sky

Mercury reaches Greatest Western Elongation on 4/11, when Venus will catch up and join it low in the eastern sky before sunrise. Jupiter passes within less than half a degree of the Moon on 4/23, and by month's end has finally moved into the evening sky. Saturn continues its climb in the morning sky, appearing due south by sunset at the end of the month.

Evening Sky

With a visit from the Moon on 4/8, Mars continues to crawl towards the horizon each night. The Moon is close to Aldebaran on 4/9 and Regulus on 4/14. Uranus is lost in the glare or the Sun, reaching Solar Conjunction on 4/22, and passing from the evening sky into the morning sky.

Sun Declination

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

LOOK FOR

What to Look For 04, 2019

First rhubarb pulled for sauce (Carver County):
2017 April 17
2016 April 17
2015 April 19
2014 April 22
2013 May 8

TEACHER PHENOLOGY PREVIEW

TEACHER ASTRONOMY PREVIEW

April ASTRONOMY PHENOMENA

2nd, Mercury 0.38° north of Neptune - 1:54 pm

5th, New Moon - 3:50 am

9th, Moon near Aldebaran low in west - After sunset

9th, Venus 0.30° south of Neptune - 10:52 pm

12th, First Quarter Moon - 2:06 pm

15th, Moon near Regulus in west - After midnight

16th, Moon perigee; 226,306 miles - 5:04 pm

19th, Full Moon Broken Snowshoe (Ojibwe) - 6:12 am

22nd, Lyrids Meteor Shower peak - Between midnight and dawn 4/23

26th, Last Quarter Moon - 5:18 pm

28th, Moon apogee; 251,396 miles - 1:19 pm

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