Stories tagged seasons

Twin Cities Naturalist
Twin Cities NaturalistCourtesy Twin Cities Naturalist
Spring seems to be approximately three weeks head of schedule this year. Check out this week's Phenology Roundup where professional naturalist Kirk Mona of Twin Cities Naturalist discusses what was seen around the Twin Cities area in the past week.

Phenology is the science of the seasons. It looks at how and when nature changes according to seasonal climatic conditions.

View a summary of phenology sightings in the Twin Cities this past week.

Summer is over
The northern autumnal equinox takes place today, Monday, Sept. 22nd, at 15:44 UT (12:44 a.m. CDT) when the sun crosses the celestial equator heading south for the year.


Ho ho, Buzzers, get used to it: Because you'll be seeing a lot of this little star today. And pretty much every day.
Ho ho, Buzzers, get used to it: Because you'll be seeing a lot of this little star today. And pretty much every day.Courtesy Lykaestria
That’s right, folks! If you aren’t already up on your solstice news, it’s today! The north end up the Earth’s axis is at maximum tilt towards our yellow sun, and that means it’s the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Yes!

Things to consider:

  • It’s vampire safety day! Sock it to the sun-fearing undead, and enjoy a super long day with no fear of attack by blood suckers (except, you know, mosquitos)!
  • You know that goofy, blue, photosensitive paper you can put keys and flowers and stuff on, and then develop it in your tub for a silhouette of keys and flowers and stuff? You can use that stuff for hours and hours today! Do it!
  • In Antarctica today (and for weeks and weeks to come!) they won’t see the sun at all! Enjoy that, scientists!
  • Your summer magic will be particularly potent today! Work on your spells, wizards!
  • If you’ve got a solar car, today is your day! Head for the mountains!
  • Exclamation points are free today!! Until sunset!!!! Use them all you want!!!

Hot spot: The south pole of Neptune is warmer than the rest of the planet, at least right now, because its orbit is so large and slow. That portion of the planet has summer for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Hot spot: The south pole of Neptune is warmer than the rest of the planet, at least right now, because its orbit is so large and slow. That portion of the planet has summer for 40 years. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Here on Earth, our coldest spots are on the poles. But go to Neptune and you’re singing a whole new tune.

Scientists have found that one of the coldest planets in our solar system has an unusual hot spot: its south pole. But don’t break out the sunscreen, swimsuits and sunglasses too fast.

Temperatures at Neptune’s south pole are about 18 degrees warmer than any other part of the planet, but the average temperature on the planet is 320 degrees below zero. And you thought Minnesota winters are harsh. An international team of astronmers just announced their temperature findings from the planet.

So why the difference?

Neptune’s south pole has been receiving summer sunlight for about 40 years. It’s mostly a function of how slow seasons change in a planet orbiting so far from the sun.

The planet is 2.8 billion miles from the sun. One Neptune year -- the time that it takes to make one complete orbit of the sun – is about 165 Earth years. Currently it’s south pole is in position for the perpetual sunshine, but that will all change in another 80 years or so, when the pole is in its winter position.

The frigid temperatures are the result of the Neptune getting just 1/900th the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth. So you probably can leave the sunscreen at home if you ever head that way.


A part of the energy bill currently up for a vote amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to extend standard daylight time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Currently standard daylight time runs from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. This will reduce daylight savings time (DST) by four weeks beginning in 2007 if the Department of Energy verifies research that shows the cut would save energy.

The main purpose of DST is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. The Department of Energy says the extra daylight in the evening will help America use less electricity for lighting and appliances. Studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation in the past show that DST does reduce the country's electricity usage by a small amount. Business owners and sporting groups support the plan saying it would increase retail sales and participation in outdoor activities. Canada is closely watching this measure in the energy bill, and will likely change their DST to match the U.S.

Several groups are opposed to the plan. Airlines are concerned that a change of DST in North America would result in international schedules to become further out of sync with Europe and the rest of the world. The National PTA also is against the extension because it will result in more kids going to school in the dark, creating increased safety risks. The International Association of Fire Chiefs also opposes the extension, as they sponsor the program that encourages homeowners to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks. A longer DST may result in dead batteries in smoke detectors.

What do you think? Should DST be extended?


The summer solstice is approaching. June 21st is the longest day of the year, and the first day of summer for us in the United States. The summer solstice for the U.S. occurs at the time when the Earth is at a point in its orbit where the Northern Hemisphere is most tilted towards the sun.

Many cultural traditions are tied to the summer solstice, as well as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes - the days in the spring and fall where the amount of day and night time are nearly the same. Some scientists believe that Stonehenge , in England, is part of a huge astronomical calendar because Stonehenge's axis is roughly pointed in the direction of sunrise at the summer and winter solstice.

In England and Ireland the solstices and equinoxes do not mark the start of a season, as they do in the United States; rather they occur at the midpoint of their seasons. Summer for these countries starts on May 1 and ends on July 31and the summer solstice is called mid-summer.

Gene posted an entry on March 4th about his feelings on when the seasons should start based on the average temperature .