This evening,( Monday, Dec. 1, 2008), right after sunset, the planets Venus and Jupiter will line up with the crescent moon in what is called a conjunction.
According to the Spaceweather.com website, “the event is visible from all parts of the world, even from light-polluted cities. People in New York and Hong Kong will see it just as clearly as astronomers watching from remote mountaintops. Only cloudy weather or a midnight sun (sorry Antarctica!) can spoil the show.”
Visit http://spaceweather.com for photos, webcasts and more information about the conjunction. Also, if you live in more northerly latitudes, check the website for information about expected auroras (northern lights). Beautiful!
Thanks to Karen Gibson at Leaping from the Box Blog/Website for a heads up about this conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the moon.
Have the leaves come off the trees in your area yet? If so, it’s a great time to take your children out and try to put the leaves back on the trees.
Of course, not literally. Instead, find leaves on the ground and try to figure out which tree they came from.
All you need is a good tree identification guide that shows both leaf shape and bark patterns. First identify the leaf by it’s shape and then find the tree by it’s bark pattern and general shape.
You might start with some trees you know just to see how it works. Remember that leaves blow around. Look for nuts and seeds to match with the trees that produced them, as well. Children really enjoy this if you treat it like a game.
During a quiet moment, have your children take a good look at the trees. Once the trees have lost their leaves, other aspects of their structure are revealed. The texture of the bark, the shape of the branches, even the leaf scars on the twigs. Compare different trees. Close your eyes and feel the bark. Listen. Smell the wood. Do trees smell differently?
You can also take some paper and crayons along and let your child make a few bark rubbings. Place the paper on the trunk of a tree and rub the crayon over the surface. The bumps and grooves in the bark will be revealed. Hold the paper as firmly as possible for the best results. You can also trace the outline of dried leaves from the same tree.
If you don’t have one, here are some examples of tree identification guides. Have fun!
Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take-Along Guide) (Paperback) by Diane Burns
Winter Tree Finder by May T. Watts and Tom Watts
Winter Botany by William Trelease. A cool book on a cool topic!
Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated by C. Frank Brockman. Rebecca Marrilees
Eastern Trees (Peterson Field Guides) by George A. Petrides, Roger Tory Peterson (Illustrator, Series Editor)