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 August

Fields of blooming Canada goldenrods are becoming showy. Goldenrods do not cause hay fever as their pollen is heavy and sticky and carried on the sides of insects rather than in the air. Wild common elderberry shrubs have ripe fruit that is an important source of summer food for gray catbirds, brown thrashers, and dozens of other bird species. Bumble bees - the great pollinators - are busy on flowers of cucumbers, cosmos, and wild jewelweed.

August 13, 2015: The first common nighthawks were observed migrating south. Rudbeckia, Russian sage, and various phlox in perennial gardens had bright, attractive flowers.

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

Species of the Month

Bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

Bottle gentian (<em>Gentiana andrewsii</em>)
Brad Bolduan

The bottle gentian, also called closed gentian, is a beautiful native perennial of the prairie. It grows one to two feet tall and is topped by a cluster of purple-blue flowers that remain closed so that when in full bloom in late summer and early fall, the flowers look like buds about to open. Bumble bees are among the rare insects strong enough to force themselves inside the flowers through the top by pushing apart the petals, and so become the pollinators.

The bottle gentian is a popular wildflower for both rain gardens and perennial gardens. If you encounter them in their native habitat, enjoy them but do not dig them from the wild. Visit your local native landscape shop instead.

Astronomy: August

August 21 solar eclipse
August 21 solar eclipse
Today's solar eclipse is called the Great American Eclipse, a welldeserved name since it will likely be the most viewed eclipse ever! Not since February 26, 1979 have U.S. citizens been able to see an eclipse as dramatic as this one. For people living along a 70-mile wide path stretching from Salem, Oregon, through St. Louis, Missouri, to Columbia, South Carolina, the Moon will completely cover the Sun - a total eclipse. Here in the Upper Midwest, over 80% of the Sun will be blocked at mid-eclipse, causing a perceptible dimming of sunlight around 1 pm. Because the eclipse will not be total, take precautions to prevent eye damage.

Morning Stars

Venus and Mars are morning stars this month; Mercury joins them during the final days. Of the three, however, only Venus is visible. Venus rises three hours ahead of the Sun, drawing attention to itself as it outshines everything in the pre-dawn sky. Look for it 19 degrees above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. The Moon appears three degrees above Venus on August 18. The biggest sky event this month occurs well after sunrise, near midday, when people throughout the U.S. will be able to see a very dramatic solar eclipse! See the sky chart below for more information.

Evening Stars

Jupiter and Saturn share the evening sky. The solar system's largest planet appears approximately ten degrees above the west-southwestern horizon an hour after sunset. The famous ringed planet is located 23 degrees above the southern horizon at the same time. The Moon passes Jupiter on August 25, but it passes Saturn twice - on August 2 and 30.

Sun Declination

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

LOOK FOR

First common ragweed shedding pollen
2015 August 1
2014 August 7
2013 August 4
2012 July 18
2011 August 2

TEACHER PHENOLOGY PREVIEW

TEACHER ASTRONOMY PREVIEW

August ASTRONOMY PHENOMENA

2nd, Moon apogee; 251,688 miles - 12:59 pm

7th, Full Moon - 1:11 pm

12th, Perseid Meteor Shower peak - 1:35 pm

14th, Last Quarter Moon - 8:15 pm

18th, Moon perigee; 227,496 miles - 8:18 am

21st, New Moon Harvest (Ojibwe) - 1:30 pm

21st, Solar eclipse: begins 11:44 am, max 1:07 pm, end 2:29 pm

29th, First Quarter Moon - 3:13 am

30th, Moon apogee; 251,228 miles - 6:32 am

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