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 March 2019

This could be the week of many firsts, with the first killdeers, great blue herons, song sparrows, and brown-headed cowbirds returning. The first garter snakes may come out of their underground dens for some early spring sunning. Sugarbush operators look for great sap runs. March 22 is the average date for the shipping season to begin on the Mississippi River at St. Paul. Yet, this period could also provide some of the best dogsledding and cross-country skiing of a snowy season in northern Minnesota. Migrating tundra swans are expected in the Weaver marshes south of Wabasha, and we hear their muffled musical whistles as big flocks pass overhead.

March 23, 2017: Ice-out date for Lake Phalen in St. Paul, White Bear Lake, both Swede Lake and Lake Zumbra in Carver County, and both Cedar Lake and Shields Lake near Faribault. Large numbers of ducks - including ring-necked, lesser scaup and buffleheads - migrated in as ice was going out.

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

Species of the Month

Northern shrike (Lanius excubitor)

Northern shrike <em>(Lanius excubitor)</em>
Roslynn Long

Northern shrikes are songbirds with hook-tipped bills and hawk-like behavior. They perch on tree branches, surveying the landscape and appearing non-predatory, but will actively pursue a flock of finches or other birds flying by and can take down birds larger than themselves. They sometimes impale their prey on a thorn or barbed-wire, to be eaten later. This behavior has earned them the nickname, the butcher bird. They winter throughout Minnesota and into the central United States, relying on birds for food during winter months when insects are not available and mice tunnel below the snow.

Astronomy: March

Highlights
Highlights
As winter winds down, the Winter Circle makes its last appearance in the sky. Over the next few months, it will disappear below the western horizon, surrendering to the stars of spring. The seven stars that make up this circle are in the top 25 of the brightest stars in our night sky. They are bright because they are close - all within 65 light years (LY) - except for Rigel. Twice the surface temperature of our Sun, this 21,320-degree blue giant star is the 7th brightest in our night sky, yet it is 864 LY away. Along with our sun, they are all members of the inside edge of the Orion spur of the Perseus arm of our galaxy. Get your last look at our stellar neighbors before they take their spring break.

Morning Sky

With a lunar visit on 3/2, Venus spends another month moving behind the Sun, disappearing into its glare by the end of the month. Low in the south by dawn, Jupiter gets a visit from the Moon on 3/27. Saturn continues its climb into the morning sky. It gets a close pass from the Moon on 3/1 and by the time the Moon comes around again, on 3/29, Saturn is more than 20 degrees above the southeastern horizon at dawn.

Evening Sky

Mercury passes in front of the Sun, as seen from the Earth, reaching Inferior Conjunction on 3/14 and passing from the evening sky into the morning sky. With a Moon visit on 3/11, Mars continues its stay in the west, getting lower as the month passes. The Moon is close to Aldebaran on 3/13 and Regulus on 3/18.

Sun Declination

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

LOOK FOR

What to Look For 03, 2019

First migrating American robin arrives (Carver County):
2017 March 15
2016 March 6
2015 March 12
2014 March 19
2013 March 15

TEACHER PHENOLOGY PREVIEW

TEACHER ASTRONOMY PREVIEW

March ASTRONOMY PHENOMENA

4th, Moon apogee 252,519 miles - 5:26 am

6th, New Moon - 10:04 am

10th, Daylight Saving Time begins -2:00 am

12th, Moon near Aldebaran in southwest - After sunset

14th, First Quarter Moon - 5:27 am

18th, Moon near Regulus in east - After sunset

19th, Moon perigee 223,306 miles - 2:47 pm/p>

20th, Full Moon Super Moon Snow Crust (Ojibwe) - 8:43 pm

20th, Vernal equinox; spring begins N Hemisphere - 4:58 pm

22nd, Mercury 3.40° north of Neptune - 1:19 am

24th, Moon apogee 252,014 miles - 7:13 pm

27th, Last Quarter Moon - 11:10 pm

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