Running Wild on the Summer Solstice

From time immemorial, the summer solstice has been celebrated by people and cultures across the globe. The ancients depended on the yearly pattern of day-light hours to set their calendars and determine the best time to plant and harvest crops. The summer solstice, which typically falls on June 21st, is the longest day of the year and after this date, the days become progressively shorter as we head into fall.

The movement of the celestial spheres may seem rather separate from our busy modern lives. But if you think about it, everything from the food we eat to the way we plan our day is intimately connected to the time and seasons, which are affected by the motion and attitude of the Earth as it moves around the sun!

Science on a SphereLearn: If you’re curious about how day-light is affected by the position of the earth during the summer solstice, here’s a simple experiment you can try:

1. Stand a stick upright in a box of sand or dirt.

2. In a darkened room, use a flashlight to shine a beam of light over the stick. See how you can make the stick’s shadow longer or shorter by changing the height of the flashlight. Make three observations; one with the flashlight directly over the top of the stick so that there is no shadow, one casting a small shadow only an inch or two long, and one with a shadow about as long as your stick.

(This is similar to what is happening to the Earth as it moves around the sun over the course of the year. Although the sun doesn’t move like our flashlight, the Earth does and that affects how high or low the sun appears in the sky and how long shadows are. During the summer months, the northern half of the planet where we live is turned toward the sun. On June 21st, we are facing the sun directly so the sun appears straight up above our heads. The highest point the sun reaches in the sky in a single day is what we call noon, or 12:00pm. The higher up the sun is in the sky at noon, the longer the daylight hours are between the time when the sun rises and sets.)

3. At noon, take your stick and box outside and see where the stick’s shadow is now. Try measuring the shadow. Which of your flashlight observations is most similar to length of the shadow cast by the sun?

*If you’re good with math you can use the Windows calculator on your computer to find out the angle of the sun in the sky. Here’s how: Go to the Start Menu on your computer and select Calculator. Go to View and select Scientific. Divide the length of the shadow cast by the sun by the height of the stick. Make sure the little bubble that says “degrees” on the calculator is selected. Select the button that says “Inv”. Now select the button that says “tan−1“. The number that comes up is the angle in degrees. If you get a zero, that means that the angle of the sun is zero and the sun is directly over head.

Now that you’ve discovered the science of the solstice, it’s time to get out and celebrate it in the best way possible by signing up for Run Wild in the Woods on Saturday June 22nd. This event is a 10k run/5k walk through beautifully rugged, unglaciated terrain at our Black Earth Campus. For details and to register online, see the link above!

See you at Black Earth!

 

 

 

 

Early Summer Fishin’

Summer fishing is cherished as an important seasonal hobby by both the young and old. When you get down to it, it’s more than just recreation, it’s practically a right of passage. The culture that surrounds fishing is as deep as the depths that have ever been plumbed by hook, line, and sinker.

600-01124398Happily, the Madison area is blessed by a chain of lakes and waterways that beckon to beginners and advanced fishers alike. You may have already seen boaters and shore fishers setting up shop, so to speak, with their tackle boxes, fishing poles, and sky-high hopes for the perfect catch!

If you’re just starting out, this blog post by Gary Engberg entitled Spring Shore Fishing on Madison’s Chain of Lakes will give you a pretty good idea of how and where to bait the best bite around Madison.

News: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grants license-free fishing on all Wisconsin waterways the weekend of June 1st & 2nd! For details and related events see Free Fishing Weekend.

A spring of fishing is bound to lead into a summer of even more fishing. Make sure you get out there with your friends and family and enjoy it! If you’re a father of youngsters, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy father’s day with the kids through Family Fishing Fun Weekend in celebration of Father’s Day (June 15th & 16th). Catch the details on our Facebook page!

Metcalfe’s Family Day & Summer Camp Open House

Get into the swing of things this spring at the upcoming Metcalfe’s Family Day & Summer Camp Open House.

Snack on healthy treats provided by Metcalfe’s, experience our all-new interactive exhibits, enter the virtual theater, blaze your way down interpreter guided trails, consider the seasons and natural life-cycles at the Phenology Center, and preview naturalist-led camp sessions with topics like gardening, pioneering, canoeing, and art; all for FREE!

Date: Saturday, May 4,  10am – 2pm

Admission: Free for families.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center – Monona Campus
330 Femrite Drive
Monona, WI 53716
 

 

Brainiac Bowl

You’ve sharpened your wits to the point of perfection; now it’s time to let the world know just how much you know about science, history, and popular culture. The best part about it is that the knowledge doesn’t end there. Your participation in the Brainiac Bowl will help to fund the ongoing environmental education programs for students of all ages at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center.

The evening includes a delicious dinner and decadent dessert, two drink tickets, the opportunity to win in a drawing for fantastic prizes, a Crazy Costume contest, and the chance to outsmart some of Madison’s finest minds during the Brainiac Bowl Championship.

Participants may enter individually, or as a group. Competing teams are made up of eight players. If you don’t have a team, we’ll match you up with like-minded folks.

Entry Fee:
Individual/ $125
Table of Eight /$1,000

Date:
April 19, 2013

Venue:
Brink Lounge
701 East Washington Ave.

*Corporate Partnerships with excellent recognition benefits available!

To register or for more information, contact Kelley Van Egeren at 608-221-0404 x3.

Wonder Bugs: Chilly Willy

We normally think of nature as thriving most where the flora is thickest. But even in the barren, unbreakable worlds of ice and snow, creatures of all kinds survive.

Because of staggeringly low temperatures, tree growth is significantly hindered in polar biomes. The subsoil of tundra is choked by cold, left permanently frozen. The life adapted for this environment is as tough as it gets with incredible biological tools to suit them to the unforgiving environment. The polar bear’s incredible nose allows it to locate the breathing holes of seals. Reindeer have developed thick hooves to battle predatory grey wolves. In the antarctic, penguins have adapted their vestigial wings into flippers, soaring through the water as an eagle would through the air.

It might be a while north (or south) before you can see these creatures, but don’t let the absence of polar bears or penguins in Wisconsin leave you frosty. We’ll thaw our imaginations and let the games begin! Learn about the frosty animals of the world in a whole new way. It will be “tundra” of fun!

Tuesday, February 5 and Wednesday, February 6, 2013
9:30-10:45am
Registration Deadline: Sunday, February 3, 2013

If you like this Wonder Bugs event, why not try another of our programs:

BATTING A THOUSAND
Tuesday, February 12 and Wednesday, February 13, 2013
9:30-10:45am
Registration Deadline: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Take me out to the bat game. Take me out to the cave. Buy me some bat homes and places to hang- upside down; I’ll be sporting some fangs. Come knock this topic right out of the park! You won’t care if you ever get back. Go bats!
JUST BREATHE
Tuesday, February 19 and Wednesday, February 20, 2013
9:30-10:45am
Registration Deadline: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Inhale the wonders of winter. Smell the mysteries of the cold and frozen land. Winter will come alive as we explore nature and breathe in the fresh surprises. I “nose” you’ll get a lungful of exciting discoveries! Be sure to come back spring, summer, and fall; we’ll compare nature through the seasons and our noses.
Each program costs- ALNC Members: $8/participant; Non-Members: $9/participant
Registration Form

Stumped by Steampunk?

Steampunk GooglesLooking for ideas for the Full Steam Ahead costume competition? Ravenworks has a wide selection of retro-futuristic and Victorian gear, enough to satisfy the most genteel aristocrats and the greasiest gearhead!
For those who like to get their hands dirty, check out these fun Do It Yourself Steampunk projects:
Steampunk Goggles: The essential tool of navigation engineers, buggy drivers, zeppelin pilots, and many other steampunk occupations.

4268066394_b120189770

Victorian Dress

 

– For those who are good with a needle and thread, try a home-sewn Victorian dress! It might seem like a lot of work, but you won’t just end up with a costume- but with an excellent piece of formal wear.

Filigree Necklace – Steampunk accessories are what really help to distinguish it as alternate history from anachronism. Finally make good use of old pocket watches and doorless keys!
Do you have your ticket yet? Space is limited, so call 608-216-9371 or visit http://www.naturenet.com/alnc/events/aldoafterdark.html to register today!