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The Magnificent Moon: Amateur Astronomer Captures Stunning Photo of Lunar Surface


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This photo shows the moon one day before it reached "first quarter," with the disc 44 percent illuminated by the sun. Miguel Claro of Lisbon, Portugal captured the image on March 7, 2014. (Credit: Miguel Claro | www.miguelclaro.com)

The delicate play between light and shadow brilliantly reveals the surface of the moon in these images recently sent to Space.com.

Astrophotographer Miguel Claro of Lisbon, Portugal, captured the stunning photo one day before the moon reached "first quarter," with the disc 44-percent illuminated by the sun.

"In this phase, we could see a lot of craters due to the game of light and shadows on its surface," Claro told Space.com in an email. [More Stunning March Night Sky Photos by Stargazers]

Claro took the image on March 7 using Canon 50D and Maksutov telescope F=1250 mm, and a Vixen GP2 Photo Guider S tracking mount (ISO 1000; f/ 13.8; Exp: 1/80 sec. in 07/03/2014 at 23:08. Median Sum of 10 images in Maxim DL).

This photo shows the moon one day before it reached "first quarter," with the disc 44 percent illuminated by the sun. Miguel Claro of Lisbon, Portugal captured the image on March 7, 2014. (Credit: Miguel Claro | www.miguelclaro.com)

He also included an annotated version of the image, seen at a different angle. In this version, Claro changed the inverted position caused by the mirrors in his Maksutov telescope.

"It's very interesting to see the difference when we look at the same picture, but at a different angle," Claro wrote. "We can easily see some craters in the original captured position and others in the corrected inverted position."

To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by Space.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo or video that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please send images and comments to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Follow Space.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Stunning Photos of the Moon


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Greenland Ice Sheet Loses Its Last Grip

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Open water in northeast Greenland. (Credit: Finn Bo Madsen)

Greenland is losing the battle against rising air and ocean temperatures, a new study finds. The last bulwark to fall is the northeast corner of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which started shrinking rapidly in 2003, according to a new study.

"My guess is this is a new record for Greenland," said lead study author Shfaqat Abbas Khan, a climate scientist at the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark. "This was very surprising, because we don't expect huge ice loss in northeast Greenland."

The northeast Greenland ice sheet lost more than 10 billion tons of ice per year since 2003, according to the study, published March 16 in the journal Nature Climate Change. Once thought immune to global warming's effects, melting in northeast Greenland could significantly boost Greenland's contribution sea level rise. [Images: Northeast Greenland's Retreating Glaciers]

Khan and his co-authors found that northeast Greenland's Zachariae glacier retreated 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) in the last decade. For comparison, southwest Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier has retreated 21.7 miles (35 km) in the past 150 years, the researchers said. Jakobshavn is the fastest-flowing glacier on Earth.

"Suddenly we have a new area which will most likely be faster than Jakobshavn in the future," Khan told Live Science.

The shocking results have already sparked debate among Greenland experts, because the ice loss estimates for the northeast are much greater than other recent studies. "Nobody else has really seen this big dynamic [ice loss] signal they're seeing," said Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center, who was not involved in the study.

Major ice drainages in Greenland overlain on a map of measured ice surface velocities. The northeast Greenland ice stream (NEGIS), Jakobshavn Isbræ (JI), Helheim Glacier (HG) and Kangerdlugssuaq (KG) catchments are shown. (Credit: Combined image by Kristian Kjellerup Kjeldsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark; courtesy of The Ohio State University)

For example, a recent study that estimated ice loss at 178 Greenland glaciers calculated that Zachariae glacier, one of northeast Greenland's three main glaciers, only lost a total of 20 billion tons of ice between 2000 and 2012. Just four glaciers accounted for half of Greenland's melting ice since 2000, and none were in the northwest, the study said. The findings were published Feb. 7 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"Overall, I would say that this area is likely to lose mass in the future but that there is not a catastrophic retreat going on," Joughin told Live Science.

Big changes, little data

One reason why big discrepancies can arise between similar studies is that data is sparse in northeast Greenland. Researchers estimate ice loss with computer models based on ice thickness, glacier valley shape and ice velocity. In the remote northeast, just a few flight lines from research programs such as NASA's IceBridge cross some critical glaciers.

Khan and his colleagues relied on several data sources - such as satellite data, aerial photos, GPS and airborne radar instruments - to track changes in northeast Greenland's ice.

Satellite images show that the northeast's three main glaciers - Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier, also called 79 North, the Zachariae glacier and the Storstrømmen glacier - all lost ice recently. Previous studies have also noted Zachariae glacier has started flowing faster, increasing its speed by a third. Zachariae drains 16 percent of the Greenland ice sheet, an area twice as large as southwest Greenland's fastest-flowing glacier, the Jakobshavn ice stream.

When ice sheets or glaciers melt, the newly exposed ground rises, because it is free of its heavy burden. GPS monitoring reveals that the land in northeast Greenland started to spring up in 2003, Khan and his colleagues discovered. Before then, the land was relatively stable.

There have been other hints of ice melting in northeast Greenland. In the last decade, observers have noted new icebergs and giant cracks in glaciers here.

Unusually warm air temperatures in 2002 through 2004 triggered the ice loss in northeast Greenland, Khan said. The warm air meant there was less sea ice where glaciers like Zachariae enter the ocean. Sea ice acts like a dam, holding back flowing glaciers. The missing ice meant the northeastern glaciers could accelerate towards the sea, dropping more icebergs to boot. Since 2004, temperatures have gotten colder but the glaciers continue their rapid pace toward the sea, the researchers found. [10 Surprising Results of Global Warming]

"Northeast Greenland used to be considered the last stable part of the Greenland ice sheet," said study co-author Michael Bevis, a geodynamicist at The Ohio State University in Columbus. "This study shows that ice loss in the northeast is now accelerating. So, now it seems that all of the margins of the Greenland ice sheet are unstable."

Melting ice, rising seas

Researchers do agree that Greenland's ice loss has doubled in the last decade, closing in on 400 billion tons per year. More ice is melting than is being replaced by snow.

However, there is disagreement on what the ice loss in Greenland means for future sea level rise. Some models show that many of Greenland's glaciers will eventually slow or even halt their retreat as they shrink back toward choke points in their rocky valleys.

The current consensus is that sea level could rise by 11 inches to 38 inches (28 to 98 centimeters) by 2100, according to the latest IPCC report. One of the biggest questions in this estimate is how fast the ice sheets will melt.

"Greenland is very complex and it's very, very difficult to predict what will happen in the future," Khan said. "This also means our future estimates of sea level rise are also difficult to predict."

And until now, researchers thought northeast Greenland's glaciers weren't kicking in to the increase in melting. "This suggests that Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise may be even higher in the future," Bevis said.

But Joughin thinks the numbers don't add up. "I'm not sure how they arrive at these high thinning rates," he said. "I just don't agree with the numbers they're coming up with."

Expect the debate to advance soon, because other scientists have new results from northeast Greenland that should be published later this year. "This paper highlights that while we know a lot about Greenland, there is work to do to really nail down the numbers," said Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Penn State University, who was not involved in the study but is currently working on northeast Greenland research.

Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Zzzap! Lightning Tech Could Predict Strikes

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Lightning strikes over Johannesburg on Oc. 26, 2013. (ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

A system being developed by University of Alabama researchers could help forecast lightning, potentially saving lives and preventing horrific burn injuries. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, lightning killed on average 53 people a year in the United States between 1982 and 2011.

The system's designers hope to forecast lightning storms 30 to 45 minutes before the first bolt strikes. Currently, meteorologists can give only a 10- to 15-minute warning.

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"A lot of the basic research in lightning prediction has been done, but weather service forecasters haven't been getting the benefit from that work," said John Mecikalski, project co-director and associate professor in University of Alabama-Huntsville's Atmospheric Science Department. "One of our major goals is to increase the lead time that forecasters have for predicting which clouds are most likely to produce lightning and when lightning will start."

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The new system will combine several existing tools. Data from National Aeronautic and Space Administration satellites will be combined with radar observations. The satellite and radar data will then be analyzed by numerical models to monitor clouds as they swell into lightning-hurling thunderstorms.

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Five Ways to Prepare Your Pets for Spring


Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Rangers Padres Spring Baseball
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

With the official start to spring only days away, March 20, 2014, soon temperatures will be climbing and outdoor activities will return in full force, bringing forth new threats to household pets.

However, owners can prepare their pets for the change in season by taking the proper precautions.

1. Get Back on Track With Heartworm Prevention

One of the single, largest dangers to the health of household pets is Dirofilaria immitis, or heartworms. Spread through mosquito bites, these parasitic worms can significantly harm the health of any animal infected.

With the peak of mosquito season coming with warmer weather, owners should be proactive and get their pets back on heartworm prevention medications if they were taken off them during the winter months.

"Heartworms are carried by mosquitos when temperatures are above a certain degree," Associate Veterinarian at Central Pennsylvania Emergency Treatment Services, or CPVETS, Dave Allgeier said. "Average temperatures have to be above 55 or 60F for an extended period of time before mosquitos can become activated."

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Even though heartworms may not be as prevalent during the colder months of the year, it is still possible for animals to suffer from the infestation during the wintertime.

"In the colder air people think that their pets can't get parasites but it is possible, so you should really keep your pets on medication year-round," Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with VETdispatch Lauren Connolly said.

2. Continue Flea and Tick Prevention

During the wintertime, fleas are dormant outside, but when it gets warmer outside, they will come back out, according to Allgeier.

However, these insects can still be seen all year-round, and once they are present, they are exceedingly hard to get rid of, as they infest the animal then can jump to humans.

"Within five minutes of landing on an animal, they start eating and reproducing," Connolly said.

Other than the direct effects of flea bites on both animals and people, the parasite can also carry a slew of diseases including the Bubonic Plague.

(AP Photo/Sharon Theimer)

Similar to fleas, ticks are a major concern for the spring season as the peak activity of the blood-sucking arachnid approaches.

"Their breeding season is late April, May and June and that's when we see a lot of tick activity," Allgeier said.

Ticks can also be vectors for diseases including Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Fever.

While the peak season for ticks is not until the spring, it's a good idea to keep pets on preventative medications all year-round, according to Connolly.

3. Watch Out for Seasonal Allergies

With grasses, flowers and trees abloom in the spring season, like people, pets can suffer from seasonal allergies too.

"Pets manifest allergies through the skin instead of people with their respiratory systems," Connolly said.

While there is typically no way to prevent seasonal allergies in pets, owners can keep an eye out for excessive scratching or ear troubles in their animal, as these can be classic signs of allergies.

According to Connolly, if it is suspected that allergies may be causing the animal distress, owners should first rule out fleas and ear infections by taking them to the veterinarian. If allergies are the culprit, antihistamines can be prescribed to help the animal cope.

4. Ramp Up Exercise Slowly to Shed Winter Weight

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Due to a family's change in activity level during the winter months, pets tend to gain weight. The warmer weather of the spring months present multiple opportunities for animals to shed that winter weight.

"If owners themselves start exercising and include the animal, start slowly and work up to an exercise regiment," Connolly said.

However, owners should beware of increasing exercise too quickly, as animals can develop injuries from jumping into an exercise regiment too fast.

5. Consider Getting a Microchip

With pets potentially spending more time outdoors, spring is the perfect time to contemplate getting a microchip for their pet.

"This is a way to identify your pet in case they get out of the fence, yard or break out of the leash," Connolly said. "It's a great way to get your pets back to you."

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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Spring Will Arrive Thursday Whether Cold Air Lingers or Not


Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Emerging crocus blossoms through early spring snow in garden, New York State Welcome Centre, New York, U.S.A.
(Getty Images/All Canada Photos)

The first day of spring will arrive unabated throughout the nation on Thursday, and milder weather will be in place for the start of the season for some.

Spring officially arrives on Thursday at 12:57 p.m. EDT.

With the exception of the northern tier states, the Great Lakes and the interior Northeast, temperatures on Thursday will reach or exceed seasonable levels for March 20.

Highs are forecast to reach the 50s F in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mo., and Portland, Ore. Sixty-degree temperatures are in the offing from Richmond, Va., to Nashville, St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

However, chilly conditions with some snow will occur over northern New England, upstate New York and the Great Lakes, as well as the northern Rockies. Highs are projected to be in the 30s F from Caribou, Maine, to Buffalo, N.Y., and Minneapolis. Temperatures will peak in the 40s F in Detroit, Chicago, Fargo, N.D., Great Falls, Mont., and Seattle.

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Temperatures are likely to climb from the central Plains to the Ohio Valley and Northeast late this week into the first part of the weekend. In many areas, temperatures may be 10 degrees higher Friday or Saturday compared to the day before.

As has been the case during much of the second half of the winter, cold air will fight back into next week.

According to AccuWeather.com long-range weather expert Mark Paquette, "It is almost unthinkable, but it appears that a flow of air straight from the Arctic will develop again soon."

A large area of high pressure is forecast to move southward from the North Pole and across the Canada Prairies.

"The cold outbreak looks to enter the North Central United States in two shots; one moves in this weekend, then a bigger blast will follow later next week," Paquette said.

The arctic air is likely to penetrate as far south as the central Plains and the interior Southeast.

High temperatures could be held to the 20s F or lower over the northern tier states from parts of Montana to North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England. Temperatures may struggle to reach 32 F on one or more days from parts of the central Plains to the Midwest and Northeast.

In between the two pushes of cold air, there is the chance of some sort of snow event pushing eastward from the Central states to the Atlantic coast. Whether that event is a nuisance snowfall or a major snowstorm for some locations is uncertain at this time.

This winter has delivered well above-average snowfall for a number of locations from the North Central states to much of the East. Many cities are ranking in their top 10 snowiest winters ever.

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Rare Smog Leads to Paris Travel Restrictions

March 19, 2014

Two joggers wearing protective masks run past a police officer controlling a vehicle on the Concorde square in Paris, Monday, March 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

An extended period of dry weather produced by a large area of high pressure centered over northern France has forced Paris to enforce restrictions on travel due to increasing amounts of air pollution.

In a drastic attempt to reduce air pollution, it was announced on Monday that cars with even-numbered license plates were not allowed to be driven in Paris and some surrounding suburbs, according to the Associated Press.

In an effort to enforce the ban, around 700 police officers set up check points across the city, ticketing nearly 4,000 people by midday.

This marked the first time since 1997 that measures to this extreme had to be taken in Paris.

The large area of high pressure that has built over the region for much of March has resulted in no measurable rainfall since March 3 and many days with light winds.

This combination has allowed pollutants from automobiles, businesses and agriculture to built up in the atmosphere causing the poor air quality.

A weak storm system passing north of France on Tuesday helped to stir up the atmosphere somewhat allowing restrictions to be lowered; however, high pressure will build back overhead on Wednesday leading to a continued concern for higher-than-normal levels of air pollution.

A powerful cold front will blast across the United Kingdom on Thursday, and ahead of this front, winds will increase across France once again helping alleviate air quality issues.

This front will then push through northern France on Friday bringing both gusty winds and rain that will help to rid the region of the recent increase in air pollution.

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Chill to Follow Wednesday Snow in Midwest

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Another Extreme Cold Front Moves Through Midwest
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Chilly weather will be story for the first day of spring in the Upper Midwest preceded by some midweek snow.

A swath of accumulating snowfall is forecast to spread from northern Wisconsin through southern Ontario on Wednesday with some spots picking up half a foot of snow.

Motorists in this area should be aware of slick roadways, while those hitting the slopes will receive some fresh powder for late-season skiing.

Although the heaviest snow will miss cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Madison, a few snow showers are still expected for Wednesday and Wednesday night leaving little or no accumulation.

The next push of cold air will move over the area in the wake of this storm, just in time for the first day of spring.

Spring officially starts Thursday at 11:57 a.m. CDT.

Spring Will Arrive Thursday Whether Cold Air Lingers or Not
Forecast Temperature Maps
Interactive Radar

The Upper Midwest will be one of the few parts of the country with below-normal temperatures for the first day of spring as milder weather briefly surges across the Plains and up the East Coast.

Although temperatures are expected to moderate a bit by Friday, yet another push of frigid arctic air is in store for the weekend.

Daytime temperatures over the weekend will be limited to the teens and lower 20s followed by overnight lows nearing the 0-degree mark.

This is the equivalent of 15 to 20 degrees below normal for the region, making it feel more like the first weekend of winter rather than the first weekend of spring.

The first full week of spring doesn't look to be much warmer as the arctic air holds over the region.

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Dry Conditions Increase Fire Risk for Southern California


Wednesday, March 19, 2014
California Drought
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Drought continues its hold in Southern California, and with no rain in the Los Angeles forecast this workweek, a round of winds may bring an increased fire danger with them.

Though highs will crest at the 80 mark Wednesday, the rest of the week will see highs in the upper 70s, dipping into the lower 70s for Friday.

Breezes will be light inland but will see stronger gusts near the mountains. With the area still gripped by extreme to exceptional drought, the winds could be bring dangerous fire conditions.

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The next opportunity for precipitation will come on Saturday morning when some drizzle is possible. Beyond this, a the next chance for any rainfall will not come until the second half of next week.

Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy for much of the week after Wednesday until breaking up for a mostly sunny day on Sunday.

Lows during the overnight hours will be in the 50s consistently through the week, with increased cloud coverage when compared to the daytime hours.

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Ice to Threaten Wednesday Morning Commute From Virginia to NY

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Rare Winter Storm In South Brings Ice And Snow To Region Unaccustomed To The Elements
(Getty Images)

There is the potential for dangerous icy conditions Wednesday morning from Virginia to the southern tier of New York.

While not enough ice will accumulate to weigh down trees and power lines, a thin layer of black ice produced by freezing drizzle is forecast to reach across several states over the central Appalachians.

Major highways that may be impact by freezing drizzle include I-64, I-66, I-68, I-70, I-78, I-80, I-81, I-83, I-86, I-88 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Metro areas that may have icy conditions for a time include Roanoke, Va., Washington, D.C., Martinsburg, W.Va., Hagerstown, Md., Harrisburg, Pa., and Corning, N.Y.

According to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brian Wimer, "The ice is likely to be more extensive from northwestern Virginia, northern West Virginia, western Maryland and southern and central Pennsylvania."

The ice is likely to be very spotty on the northern and southern ends of the alert area.

Temperatures will be very marginal for ice formation in southwestern Virginia where plain rain may outweigh icy locations.

The air will start very dry near the New York/Pennsylvania border. In this area, more snow can fall as an alternative.

"Even in the areas where ice is most likely to be spotty, it can be dangerous as commuters may believe there are not problems, then suddenly they may hit an isolated patch of ice," Wimer said.

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Spring Will Arrive Thursday Whether Cold Air Lingers or Not

The ice is most likely to form on untreated elevated surfaces, such as bridges and overpasses, in the southern end but can occur on any untreated surface farther north, due to a cold ground.

Motorists are urged to drive defensively overnight into Wednesday morning. People should use caution even if the temperature in their car thermometer is a few degrees above freezing as the ground can be significantly colder.

"During the midday and afternoon, the warming effect of the March sun should cause most icy areas to melt on their own," Wimer said. "Areas that are shaded from the sun could stay icy for an extended period on Wednesday."

Farther east, from Raleigh, N.C. to Richmond, Va., Philadelphia and New York City, temperatures are forecast to inch above freezing as rain and drizzle develops, but cloud cover will keep the air chilly throughout the day.

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Giant Asteroid Eclipses Star Tonight in Rare Celestial Event: How to Watch Live


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The bright star Regulus will vanish behind the asteroid 163 Erigone for several seconds on the morning of March 20, 2014, for well-placed skywatchers. The star is located in the "sickle" of the constellation Leo, the Lion. (Credit: Akira Fujii / Sky & Telescope magazine)

An asteroid the size of Rhode Island will briefly blot out one of the brightest stars in the sky overnight tonight (March 19-20), and you can watch the rare celestial event live online, weather permitting.

At around 2:05 a.m. EDT (0605 GMT) Thursday morning (March 20), a 45-mile-wide (72 kilometers) asteroid 163 Erigone will eclipse Regulus, as seen from a swath of North America, making the 22nd-brightest star in the sky disappear for a few seconds.

This "occultation" will be visible from the ground only to people in a narrow corridor in northeastern North America. However, the online Slooh Space Camera will offer live views of the eclipse during a show that begins at 1:45 a.m. EDT (0545 GMT) Thursday. You can follow it at www.slooh.com or watch the asteroid-Regulus webcast here on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. [Rare Asteroid Eclipse of Star Regulus: A Photo Guide]

"In my entire 40 years as a professional astronomer, I've never witnessed a star as bright as Regulus - Leo's 'alpha' luminary - being blocked as seen along a populated Earthly path in an easily accessible region," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement.

"That's what will happen early Thursday morning," he added. "It's hard to describe the excitement of this event. Regulus will vanish, and the constellation Leo will temporarily look totally different for as much as 14 seconds, as seen from New York City and about a 100-mile wide path extending to that city's north and west."

The occultation holds more than mere gee-whiz appeal, researchers say. It also offers an opportunity to learn more about 163 Erigone, which circles the sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

"With accurate timing from a number of observers spread along the path, we can actually determine the asteroid's size and shape to a remarkable degree of accuracy," Slooh host and observatory director Paul Cox said in a statement.

The eclipse of Regulus will be visible to skywatchers in New York City, as well as parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate New York and Ontario.

Editor's note: If you snap a great photo of rare asteroid occultation of the star Regulus, or any other night sky view, and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery please send comments and images to managing editor Tariq Malik at: spacephotos@space.com.

Observers in New York City can design a (very late) night on the town around the occultation. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York are hosting a 163 Erigone-Regulus event tonight, from 11:59 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. EDT (0359-0630 GMT).

The free eclipse celebration will take place at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, which is located at Pier 86 in Manhattan; visit the Intrepid website here for details and to RSVP (required).

"Intrepid Museum educators will be on hand to discuss and explain the occultation of Regulus prior to the cosmic event, which will take place a little after 2:05 a.m. EDT," museum officials wrote in a media advisory. "Guests are welcome to bring their own binoculars and telescopes; however, telescopes are not necessary to view the occultation."

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Spring Allergy Sufferers: Long Season Ahead

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Woman suffering from hay fever
(Getty Images)

After a winter of heavy snow and below-normal cold for the East, the seasonal end of icy chills and piles of snow may be a welcomed break to some. For seasonal allergy sufferers, however, the warmer weather of spring will bring some serious discomfort along with it.

Because of their climates, the Northeast and the Southeast are hit the hardest by spring allergies. Allergist Neil Kao, M.D., explained that spring allergies are primarily triggered by tree pollens and mold, and conditions in the eastern half of the country allow for these particles to be especially prolific.

According to Kao, the severity of tree pollen allergies depends on the growth of those trees. In the Southeast, where oaks and maples are plentiful, the warmer air and intermittent rain that typically accompanies spring create ideal conditions for rapid tree growth.

AccuWeather.com lead long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok said that a persistent area of high pressure stationed off the coast of New England will create wetter conditions for the Southeast this spring, which will aid in the production of tree pollen.

"I think the interior [Southeast] is getting hit the worst to start off," Pastelok said.

The harshest allergy conditions persist when there is intermittent rain. Meanwhile, trees will not flourish as quickly when conditions are very dry or consistent, heavy rain clears the air and pollen-coated surfaces.

The production of the tree pollen happens rapidly and all at once in the Southeast, which makes it such a hotbed for severe spring allergies. West of the Mississippi, trees are typically not as plentiful or the conditions and climate are not as conducive to the sudden outbreaks of pollen.

Kao noted that an exception would be the outbreak of cedar pollen that hits Texas in January.

Tree pollen particles are very small, and as such are able to spread easily without animal assistance. Winds, Kao said, can carry the particles as much as 200 miles away.

Around Greenville, S.C., where Kao works, the average peak of spring allergies is April 9.

In the Northeast, around the latitude of Philadelphia, spring allergies will peak an average of six weeks later. For "snowbirds" who spend their winters in the South and summers in the North, this can be particularly problematic, as they may begin allergy season in the South and return north to be hit by allergy season again.

This season may have a delayed start to the allergy season in the Northeast, as the AccuWeather.com long-range forecast team expects chill to linger a while longer for the region.

David Shulan, M.D., and a certified allergy and asthma consultant in Albany, said that if allergy season is delayed, it could easily rebound.

"When it does hit, it can be sudden and hard," Shulan said.

Colder weather can slow down or stop an allergy season already in progress, as plants are heavily influenced by sunlight and temperatures. Along with heavy rain that can wash pollen particles out of the air, frosts and freezes can also create a break for seasonal allergy sufferers.

"What's good for plants is bad for allergies," Kao said.

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Typically, Kao said, though allergy season in the Northeast can be severe, it usually has a more gradual progression than in the South, which may limit the intensity. The Southeast also averages an overlap between the burst of allergy-inducing tree pollen season in the spring and the grass pollen allergy season of summer, whereas the North will usually get a reprieve between outbreaks.

He's quick to point out, however, that for those who suffer from allergies, once their symptoms start, the count may not make as much of a difference in terms of discomfort.

"If you're drowning in a foot of water or 10 feet of water, you're still drowning," he explained.

For allergy sufferers to get some relief from their symptoms, Shulan recommends pharmaceutical remedies such as over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines. Nasal sprays can provide faster-acting relief, but many will require a prescription.

People looking to use a topical steroid cream to combat their allergies should begin before allergy season hits, Shulan said, as it can take time to build up their systems.


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Watch: Breathtaking Flight Over Mount Everest

A team of German researchers recently captured this stunning video while flying around Mount Everest in a power glider. The team was photographing the mountain with a special 3D camera in order to make a new, extremely precise model of the Everest region. The finished model will help scientists better predict when glacial lakes will overflow their banks, causing mud avalanches and floods.

(via The Adventure Blog)

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Volcano Eruption


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Watch: Tumbleweeds Invade Colorado Town

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Colorado Springs Struck by Tumbleweed Invasion
Several neighborhoods in southern Colorado were overrun with tumbleweeds Tuesday, with piles up to 10 feet high in some places.

Residents of Fountain, Colo., were unable to leave their driveways, and in some cases their homes, because of the blockage.

Drought conditions and strong winds were to blame for the tumbleweed invasion.

Tumbleweeds have been piling up across much of the West over the past few months, blocking roads and creating fire hazards in parts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Witnesses of the strange scene in Colorado took to social media to share photos:

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More Cold and Snow Heading for Midwest, East Next Week


Thursday, March 20, 2014
New York City Hit With More Snow
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Despite the change in seasons, more cold air and potential snow are in the offing next week for parts of the Midwest and East.

The recurring cold weather is likely to persist into the first part of April and will cause difficulties for collegiate and high school baseball games, soccer, golf, lacrosse, track and field, and other outdoor sporting activities.

Cold air is again building up over the Arctic and is forecast to push southeastward across the Canada Prairies late this week. The new surge of cold air will enter the Upper Midwest early this weekend and is projected to reach the interior South and East Coast by early next week.

A second push of cold air will push southeastward during the middle part of next week.

According to AccuWeather.com long-range weather expert Mark Paquette, "It is almost unthinkable, but it appears that a flow of air straight from the Arctic will develop again."

Temperatures may struggle to reach 32 F on one or more days from parts of the central Plains to the Midwest and Northeast. Highs may be in the 20s F over the northern tier states from Montana to Maine.

At their peak, temperature departures may be 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below average in some cases.

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In between the two pushes of cold air, an area of disturbed weather along an advancing front could slowly organize into a significant storm system.

"It is too early to say for sure if everything will come together to make a large snowstorm and exactly where that will be," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. "But, if you go by pattern repetition this winter, the odds favor a significant snowfall for part of Atlantic Seaboard during the middle of next week."

There will be other factors to consider along with the track and strength of the storm, such as the extent that snow melts as it falls due to the March sun effect during the daylight hours.

"While Major League Baseball may catch a break from the cold for opening day games in Pittsburgh, Detroit, New York City, Milwaukee, Chicago and Cincinnati on March 31, the overall chilly weather pattern is likely to persist through the first week of April," Paquette said.

Recall that last season similar cold and snowy weather early on forced multiple games to be postponed. The New York Mets had back-to-back games snowed out on April 14 and 15, 2013, one in Minnesota and the other in Denver.

Given the expected weather pattern for the start of this year's regular season, there is a chance of snow for a couple early-season games.

The pattern for the end of March into the first few days of April 2014 will not be as cold, relatively speaking, compared to the past couple of months. However, the weather may only be warm for couple of days here and there from the northern Plains to the Midwest and Northeast.

The back-and-forth pattern may not break up until the second week of April, when temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast will swing to near to above normal during the majority of the time.

Normal High Temperature for April 15

High (F)
Kansas City, Mo.
St. Louis
Washington, D.C.
New York City

For MLB fans wanting to experience true warmth for opening day, consider heading to Australia. Two games are being played outside of the U.S., in Sydney, Australia, on March 22 and 23, and will open the regular season.

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Thousands of Offshore Turbines May Reduce Hurricane Storm Surge


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The intensity of the flooding from Sandy knocked many homes off their foundations. New flood zone regulations aim to prevent this in the future by recommending homes be lifted as high as 10 feet. (Photo/David Defilippis)

In addition to replacing fossil fuels by creating clean electricity, offshore wind turbines could help alleviate storm surges and wind speeds caused by hurricanes, effectively saving billions of dollars in damages and lives each year, according to a Stanford University engineering professor.

Mark Z. Jacobson co-authored an article published in February in Nature Climate Today describing how hurricane damage could be drastically reduced while providing clean energy year-round through a computer model simulation.

"I built this model 25 years ago," Jacobson said, adding it was not until he was researching the impact of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that he decided to gear his computer model toward hurricanes.

The article was co-authored by Cristina L. Archer and Willet Kempton of the University of Delaware.

After asking himself what the effect of hurricane-force winds on wind turbines would be, he decided to figure out what the energy extraction would be.

Most turbines are engineered to withstand Category 2 and 3 storms, he said, with wind speeds approaching 129 mph.

The way the turbines would effectively reduce wind speed and storm surges is due to the amount of them working together, he said.

"If you have a lot of them, they feed back into the central pressure of the hurricane," he said, adding that this feedback drastically reduces the storm's wind speed.

AccuWeather.com meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said he thinks Jacobson's idea is sound.

"I think it's possible," he said. "I can't dispute that it sounds like a really good idea."

Kottlowski said he questions the assumptions the computer model is making concerning the weakening and intensifying regarding the hurricane because there is still research being conducted on understanding hurricane intensity.

"We don't quite understand all there is to understand in the science as to why a hurricane weakens or intensifies," he said.

Currently no offshore wind farms exist in the United States, but plans to construct turbines off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico near Texas are underway, Jacobson said. Once the regulations involving their construction pass, he said there will be a sustainable future for offshore wind energy production.

In New York City, building sea walls to prevent the amount of damages sustained by Hurricane Sandy would cost $30 billion, Jacobson said.

Many businesses constructed on or along the beach suffered irreparable damage. Demolition was required for those that were no longer structurally sound. (Photo/David Defilippis)

"You could take that same $30 billion and you would get your money back," he said. "Not only would the turbines pay for themselves and produce electricity, they would also reduce the storm surge and wind speeds of a hurricane."

In order to have a noticeable effect in wind speed and storm surge reduction, Jacobson said at least a few thousand turbines would be needed.

"We used 78,000 turbines and saw an 80-percent reduction in storm surge," he said, referring to a computer simulation for Hurricane Katrina. "You would see approximately 56-percent reduction with 40,000, and with 20,000, maybe a 20- to 30-percent reduction."

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Jacobson, who also conducted a simulation for Hurricane Isaac, added that even one lone wind turbine would have an effect, but nothing noticeable in terms of preventing damaging winds and storm surge.

While the model may not be feasible for private companies, Jacobson said it is an economically stable model since the electricity production provided by a wind farm of thousands of turbines would pay for themselves.

"I think they'd have to start small," Jacobson said. "I don't think that's something a company could do, but it's something the government or even the state could invest in."

Kottlowski said offshore wind turbines in the North Sea located 12 miles offshore near Scandinavia and Germany have been a success and he would be interested in understanding how feasible it would be to maintain an array of thousands of turbines.

"I'm a skeptic as far as maintenance, but those turbines in the North Sea are working and they're proving they generate electricity," he said. "Building an array of 78,000 turbines would be quite an engineering feat."

Kottlowski added that the North Sea is one of the stormiest places on Earth.

"If they can put them there, I have no doubt they could put them just about anywhere," he said.

By 2050, Jacobson said he can envision more than 150,000 offshore turbines along the East Coast and Gulf Coast.

"You'd also be replacing fossil fuels and you're reducing air pollutants," he said.

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Drought and Wind to Bring Fire, Dust Storm Threat to Plains Thursday


Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Nature Conservancys Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma is a 30,000 acre preserve intended to rebuild a functioning tallg
(Getty Images)

Folks in the Plains will need to be extra cautious Thursday as the region will be under a high fire and dust storm threat.

Strong winds, dry air and widespread drought will lead to a high risk for fires across New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Strong southerly winds are expected to rip across the region during the day with gusts up to 40 mph possible. These winds will bring a surge of warm air with them.

Although the West has been the focal point of drought talk this year, another area of drought is on-going across the central United States.

Nebraska to Texas has experienced an abnormally dry winter which has forced moderate to exceptional drought conditions on folks.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Oklahoma City is listed under a moderate drought. Precipitation in the city since January is running over 3 inches below normal.

The lack of precipitation has left the ground dry and has made the area a prime spot for fires and wind-blown dust.

The region will remain moisture-starved Thursday as dry air continues to pump into the region due to high pressure.

Relative humidity, a variable that can be used to measure the amount of moisture in the air, is expected to be dangerously low. Values may drop into the teens for some areas, a value ripe for fires to quickly develop and spread.

Fire won't be the only threat Thursday, wind-blown dust will be an issue as well.

Lowered visibility due to blowing dust will hinder motorists who may be caught driving in it. Dust storms are known to lower visibility to near zero, as was experienced across Texas on Tuesday.

Extra caution should be used by people if caught in a dust storm while driving. Travel delays should be expected.

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Health problems will increase as well. Eye irritation is common due to dust particles flying through the air.

Also, residents with respiratory problems will be affected by the increased amount of blowing dust. Staying inside and closing all doors and windows will help alleviate some of the problems.

Drought-relief seems unlikely in the near future as dry conditions are expected to continue at least until the weekend.

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Spring Arrives: Myths Debunked, Truths Revealed

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Close up of daisies in meadow
(Getty Images)

Springtime is often associated with the ideas of rebirth, regrowth and renewal of the Earth as plants begin to bloom and we all experience a slight taste of the warmer months to come. The first official day of spring is marked annually by the vernal equinox. For 2014, the official start of the equinox is March 20, 2014.

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski defines the Vernal Equinox as when the sun crosses the equator going south to north.

"The event happens during the Earth's orbit around the sun and simultaneously on the imaginary dome of our sky. The equator is an imaginary line drawn right around Earth's middle, like a belt. It divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere," Kottlowski said.

Myths & Truths of the Equinox

In years past, however, the equinox has been rumored to do more than just bring the sun's rays to the Northern Hemisphere.

According to folklore, it's rumored that you can stand a raw egg straight up on the day of the equinox.

"If you have enough focus and patience, you can do this anytime of year. In actuality, the sun will affect a much larger area, but on a small area like an egg it won't make it any easier to stand up," said Kottlowski.

Originating from Latin, equinox means 'equal nights,' and as a result it is rumored that there must be equal hours of both day and night (12 hours).

"No, that's really more astronomical than anything we get closer with the equal length of day and night based on the effects of daylight saving. The one place where you'd probably see the most equality between day and night is at the equator, somewhere like Quito, Ecuador," said Kottlowski.

According to rumors, the equinox is the best time to see the sun rise due east and set due west.

"The equinox provides a clear trajectory of the sun's arch, so on the equinox if you're driving on a flat road that runs east to west, for example, you'll be driving into work to the east and facing the sun and you'd be coming home in the west and still facing the sun," Kottlowski said.

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During the equinox, the Earth tilts on its axis, which could change the length of a person's shadow and potentially, at noon under direct sunlight, a person won't cast a shadow at all.

"The sun's angle does change your shadow. The higher the angle of the sun, the less shadow a body will cast. Directly at the equator with the sun directly lined up overhead, you may not have a shadow during the spring equinox at noon. The circumstances have to be so incredibly perfect for a body to cast no noontime shadow so the chances are slim," Kottlowski said.

The length of a shadow might not be the most obvious sign of the Vernal Equinox, but there are some signs in nature that will provide a hint that spring is in the air.

Signs of Spring Arriving

If you live in Earth's Northern Hemisphere, you've likely been noticing the earlier dawns and later sunsets for some weeks now. Due to daylight saving, the Northern Hemisphere is seeing more and more sunlight each day.
The longer days bring with them warmer weather as increasing temperatures and added sunlight induce tree budding and a new cycle of growth for plants. In many places, spring flowers are also beginning to bloom.
In the skies, an increasing number of birds will begin to cross the sky overhead as spring arrives. Both birds and butterflies alike begin to migrate back northward along with the path of the sun.

AccuFan username "Kimpossible" captured cardinals awaiting spring in the Northeast on March 17, 2014.

Animals are also beginning to awake from their long winter hibernations while household pets are just excited to be able to get outdoors and play again.


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LOOK: NASA Moon Map Reveals Lunar North Pole Like Never Before

A new high-resolution map of the moon's north pole shows a view of the surface that even the Apollo astronauts would envy.

The new lunar mosaic - which was captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) - resolves features as small as 6.5 feet (2 meters), providing information that could be used for landing-site scouting or to answer various questions about the surface of the moon, agency officials said.

With scientists and the public able to click, zoom in and move around the map, it's the first time an interactive mosaic has been released of the moon's north pole. [See the new moon map and more lunar photos from LRO]

"Creation of this giant mosaic took four years and a huge team effort across the LRO project," Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, said in a statement.

"We now have a nearly uniform map to unravel key science questions and find the best landing spots for future exploration," added Robinson, who is based at Arizona State University in Tempe.

The mosaic is made up of 10,581 pictures carefully selected to provide consistent lighting across the surface. The map, which is hundreds of billions of pixels in size, gives a high-definition view of craters, divots and shadows across an area more than one-quarter that of the United States.

If you were to print out the map at the standard for print publications (300 dots per inch), it would be almost the same size as a U.S. football field, NASA officials said.

Images were obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, supplemented with data from LRO's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter instrument. Map creators also used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.

GRAIL's twin spacecraft (called Ebb and Flow) made the highest-resolution gravity map ever of the moon before smashing as planned into a lunar mountain in December 2012.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been circling the moon since June 2009, using seven instruments to examine the lunar surface and its radiation. Among the probe's notable achievements is finding extensive evidence of water ice on the moon's surface.

The new mosaic is available at http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/gigapan/.

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Space.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Rain, Fog, Ocean Currents Hamper Flight 370 Search


Thursday, March 20, 2014
Possible Malaysian Airliner Debris Found In Indian Ocean
In this handout satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) on March 20, 2014, objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are shown in a revised area 185 km to the south east of the original search area. (DigitalGlobe/AMSA via Getty Images)

With the news that two objects were spotted on satellite in the southern Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has intensified in that region. Poor weather and ocean currents may cause difficulties for authorities as they search for confirmation that the objects came from the missing jet.

Early on Thursday morning, Eastern Daylight Time, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority released satellite images showing two objects floating on the water about 1,550 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. The images were taken on Sunday, March 16.

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, four aircraft were involved in the search, which spanned a 23,000-square km area (14,291 miles) about 2,500 km (1,553 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia, on Thursday.

Image depicting location of the possible debris from Flight 370 and the possible flight path of the plane. Courtesy of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

While it has not been confirmed that these objects are from Flight 370, the area does mesh well with the possible flight path of the plane detailed by the National Transportation Safety Board. Planes are searching the ocean trying to confirm the origin of these objects.

However, the weather and complex ocean currents may hamper the efforts of those searching for the missing airliner.

A front located nearby spread rain and clouds across the area Thursday. Australian authorities have already noted that limited visibility, caused by rain and clouds, has slowed the effort as reported by CNN.

The area of clouds well southwest of the southwestern tip of Australian may have produced the bad weather that caused poor search conditions. Image courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia.

While there may be a brief break from the weather into the early part of the weekend as high pressure builds into the region, it is likely to turn stormy again by next week.

"We are getting to the time of year where the windows for calm weather in this area of the world get shorter and shorter as the seasons turn to fall and then winter," noted AccuWeather meteorologist Eric Wanenchak.

Image above depicts the broad ocean currents near Australia. Image courtesy of the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia.

Another challenge facing authorities is how far pieces of the plane could have drifted if it indeed crashed almost two weeks ago. Ocean currents and wind can transport objects many miles.

The West Australian Current flows northward well off the west coast of the continent and is the closest broad current to the location of possible airplane debris. However, numerous eddies in the area make matters more complex.

"Embedded in overall broad ocean current are small eddies that create turbulence and make it complicated to track the flow of potential debris," stated AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Numerous eddies of turbulence are located near where the debris was spotted (roughly near the green circle). See inset on bottom right for location reference. Image courtesy of Earth.

While finding debris in an area close to the potential flight path of the plane is a positive step, it is still possible that this latest discovery is just another false alarm. Large amounts of trash and big pieces of debris are found in oceans across the globe.


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Ten Annual Traditions to Embrace Spring


Thursday, March 20, 2014
Spring Flowers Ohio
Daffodils begin to bloom in Eden Park, Thursday, March 20, 2014, on the first day of spring in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Despite a lingering chill in early spring for much of the Midwest and Northeast, warmer weather is on the way. As the official spring season begins, Americans nationwide carry their annual traditions into the new year and attend outdoor events celebrating the spring thaw.

1. Spring Cleaning

As winter's icy grip slowly weakens, many Americans follow the annual tradition of cleaning their homes from top to bottom to shake away the winter blues with an influx of clean, spring air.

Throughout the country, many major cities, municipalities and townships opt for an annual springtime trash collection service that allows homeowners to get rid of any larger items or types of items that cannot be disposed of during the year with regular refuse. This often includes appliances, furniture and hazardous disposables, such as batteries, computer monitors and televisions.

The city of Boise, for example, has special collection services before the holiday season and again in the spring. Other traditional spring cleaning services consist of volunteer contributions to maintain the community, which will take place across the city in Philadelphia.


2. Yard Sales

In the spirit of springtime traditions, the classic "out with the old, in with the new" philosophy takes shape through the return of the traditional American yard sale. In most cases, but not all, no special licenses, permits or sales tax is needed as consumers exchange cash for items of their choosing.


Often held as community events in specific neighborhoods or municipalities, residents often hold their yard sales on the same set date to attract more customers. These traditional events put money into hands of members of the community while yard sale customers return to their homes with new, used or rare items not all of which are available in stores.

3. Trout Fishing

For many anglers across the United States, primarily ones living in the Midwest and Northeast, the return of annual trout harvesting marks the official beginning of winter's thaw. While many states have varying regulations, and even open seasons that last annually, states including New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia begin their open harvest period in March and April.

In Colorado, the spring season offers a variety of opportunities for anglers because of a rich feeding period preceding trout spawning. Montana offers annual open seasons for anglers for a variety of species but will restrict Bull Trout harvesting to specific locations and times of year.

Trout Fishing(Photo/Thinkstock)

4. Cherry Blossom Festivals

In 1912, Japan gifted more than 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees to celebrate the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. In 1927, the first National Cherry Blossom Festival was held in the United States, marking the annual springtime tradition as the pink blossoms begin to bloom in the nation's capital.

Macon, Ga., also holds their own annual celebration of the Yoshino cherry tree. The Macon International Cherry Blossom Festival is a 10-day event that includes concerts, exhibits, arts, crafts and entertainment surrounded by the city's 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees. In 1952, local realtor William A. Fickling Sr., returned from a trip in Washington, D.C., where he witnessed the same species of cherry tree in his backyard. As the years went by, the city's cherry tree population grew as a result of Flickling's interest in the rare tree, according to the festival's website. The first cherry blossom festival in Macon was held in 1982.

Cherry Blossom Trees, Potomac River, Washington D.C.Cherry blossom trees adorn the walkway along the Potomac River, providing a scenic spring view for visitors. (Photo/Buddy Secor)

5. Rochester Lilac Festival

More than 500,000 attendees visit the Highland Park grounds in Rochester, N.Y., each May making the 10-day Rochester Lilac Festival one of the most popular springtime traditions in the country. Highland Park was donated in 1887 by Rochester residents and horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, the owners of Mt. Hope Nursery, according to the festival's website.

The two men donated 20 acres of land to the community and hired landscape engineer Frederick Law Olmsted to help develop the park. The park has grown to 150 acres and houses the largest lilac collection in the U.S. With approximately 100 years of history, the festival has grown into a nationwide event. Entertainment activities, concerts, exhibits and food choices are available to event attendees.

Spring Lilac Festival(Photo/www.rochesterevents.com)

6. Clark County Fair & Rodeo

Logandale, Nev., is the site of one of the largest and most popular county fairs in the country. The Clark County Fair began in 1965 as the Moapa Valley Fair, which was held at various locations. Since then, it has grown as a springtime tradition which draws in more than 80,000 patrons each year. The fair offers a variety of entertainment venues and vendor exhibits including concerts, art exhibits, contests, animals, a livestock show and traditional rodeo performances.

Rodeo Logandale, Nevada(Photo/Thinkstock)

"In 1981 the fair committee decided to pursue a more permanent location for the fair," according to the organization's website. "This committee, under the direction of Grant M. Bowler, was able to obtain 190 acres of ground in Logandale from the (U.S. Bureau of Land Management). With a grant from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the State Legislature, construction began. Many others also contributed their resources to aide in the development of the new fairgrounds. In 1986 the Moapa Valley Fair officially changed its name to the 'Clark County Fair'."

Due to the fair's rising popularity, the name was changed in 1997 to the Clark County Fair & Rodeo. The family-oriented event is made possible each year by four part-time staff members and more than 500 volunteers.

7. Spring Fitness

As warm weather makes its return, many Americans return to their outdoor exercise regimens including preparation for annual races and marathons. The 38th Annual Spring Thaw was held in late February and has become a springtime tradition for residents of Pittsburgh and visitors looking to return to their outdoor activities.

In 2013, 932 people made it to the finish line despite the cold weather. In addition to hosting year-long events across the world, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series also schedules many events in early spring as athletes make their way back outdoors in preparation.

Fitness, Running(Photo/Thinkstock)

8. Spring Planting and Gardening

Preparing a garden site in the fall may be advantageous to those looking to engage in spring planting, but many gardeners prepare their soil in early spring as the warm air returns. As the ground begins to thaw, spring planting has become a tradition for many green-thumbed Americans.

Preparing the soil is an important aspect in ensuring a healthy and successful garden. In Pennsylvania, soybeans can be planted in early spring because colder air is beneficial for the plants, according to a Penn State University article.

Snap peas should be planted after the danger of spring frosts has passed, the article states, adding cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli should be planted in the late spring to ensure healthy cultivation. In central Pennsylvania, tomatoes should also not be planted until late spring and early summer to avoid the danger of spring frosts, according to the article.

Gardening, Spring(Photo/Thinkstock)

9. Egg Decorating

A longstanding tradition often associated with Easter in springtime surrounds dyeing eggs each year for many Americans. As part of that tradition, the President and First Family have continued the Easter Egg Roll at the White House for more than 135 years. In 2014, the tradition will continue.

"This year's theme is 'Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,' and more than 30,000 people will assemble on the South Lawn to join in the fun," according to the official White House website. "The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling."

Each year since 1981, a commemorative egg is available since Ronald Reagan hosted an egg hunt featuring wooden eggs with signatures of famous actors, actresses, athletes and politicians, according to the website.

Egg Dying(Photo/Thinkstock)

10. Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the sign for many Americans that springtime is ending and that summer is close at hand. The U.S. holiday originated after the Civil War as a way to commemorate the fallen soldiers from the Union and Confederacy. The last Monday in May, which was declared an official federal holiday in 1971, now celebrates the lives of U.S. armed forces members who sacrificed in defense of the nation.

American traditions surrounding Memorial Day include attending parades, participating in memorial ceremonies, placing flowers on the graves of the dead, spending time with loved ones and engaging in outdoor springtime activities. It is the unofficial start of summer, often observed with the opening of public swimming pools and family cookouts.

Memorial DayDeiniah Stewart places a rose at the grave site of a loved one at Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Monday, May 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)


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