When you think about dog sleds, you may think about a team of huskies pulling a sled across a snowy and icy landscape.
Perhaps you should change that image to an Australian shepherd confidently riding a sled down a hill.
Secret, a 3-year-old Aussie shepherd and the canine companion to 17-year-old human Mary, took advantage of there finally being enough snow to get some sledding in. And by “some” we mean around 50 shots down the hill, according to Mary’s Instagram caption. Secret drags her sled all the way to the top of the hill, hops on and gets her own snowy version of zoomies on as she slides down the hill. Once at the bottom, it’s right back up again, sled in mouth.
It’s stories like this that put a smile on one’s face (and heart!).
Most evenings, after we have finished supper we go into the den, as we call it, and watch a few hours of television. This room has doors to the other rooms in the house and, therefore, during the day may be closed off. Reason why that is useful is that the den is home to our three cats.
Thus, after supper the dogs and the cats get to mingle together, as this photograph of Pedi and Mitts so well illustrates.
All of which is a great introduction to a post that was recently seen over on Mother Nature Network and is republished here for all you good people.
Dog and kitten are best friends in hiking and life
The best place to see the world is from atop your BFF’s head.
Henry wasn’t the first dog Cynthia Bennett and her boyfriend spotted when they went looking for a canine pal a few years ago, but he’s certainly the one that won them over.
“I had my eyes set on a golden mix puppy, but when I saw the lanky Henry sitting there I had to see him,” Bennett tells MNN. “When we got into the pen with him, he immediately climbed into my lap and went belly up. It was then I knew that we were taking him home.”
The couple brought the pup back to their home in Colorado where they hoped he would fit into their active, outdoorsy lifestyle. Fortunately, bold Henry was all in. But not long after it became clear that Henry was also extremely stressed out. Cynthia thought maybe a kitten companion might help ease Henry’s anxiety, while also offering another adventure buddy for the family.
She spent several months looking for just the right feline friend. Most, she says, just didn’t have the right personality she wanted for an adventurous cat. Then she met a Siamese kitten mix named Baloo.
“Baloo however convinced me to bring him home in under a minute. He was super playful and curious and the biggest love bug.”
Henry and Baloo hit it off immediately and are the best of friends, Bennett says.
“They do everything together, eat, sleep, hike and have become inseparable. It took only one day of them getting used to each other and then they started immediately snuggling and playing. It happened so quickly.”
Not only are the pair adventure buddies, they also have quite a following on Instagram. One of their most popular poses is Baloo comfortably perched (and sometimes sleeping) on Henry’s head.
It’s a natural fit, Bennett says.
“Baloo feels much safer with Henry around and is constantly looking up to him. So if he is on Henry, he feels even more comfortable,” she says. “They are the best of friends, especially on hikes. Baloo follows Henry and Henry just lights up when he realizes that Baloo is coming too.”
That photograph of Henry and Baloo is so wonderful that I will close today’s post by sharing it with you again but cropped to really focus on them both.
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful, of course, but it’s also about food — lots and lots of food. Your kitchen and dining room table will be overflowing with all sorts of tasty offerings, as tempting smells fill the air from early morning until late at night.
While entertaining your guests and seeing to your culinary responsibilities, don’t forget to keep a watchful eye on your pets. It will be hard for them to resist the food from your feast, but some items can cause problems for our furry friends.
Here are some Thanksgiving foods that are hazards and others that are OK in moderation.
1. Turkey: Unless you’re serving a vegetarian meal, the centerpiece of the holiday meal is a turkey, and how could you let your four-legged buddy miss out? Just do so in moderation and watch what you serve, cautions the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If you offer your pet a small bite, make sure that it’s well-cooked and has no bones. Raw or undercooked turkey can contain salmonella bacteria, which can make your pet sick. Never give your pet turkey bones.
2. Stuffing: Stuffing can be packed with ingredients like onions, garlic, raisins and grapes that can make your dog or cat sick. Anything with onions, garlic, chives, leeks or scallions should be off-limits to your pet. Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells and cause gastroenteritis. Cats and certain breeds of dogs (like the Akita and Shiba Inu) appear to be more sensitive, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.
3. Mashed potatoes: If you get to the potatoes before they’re smothered in butter, milk and salt, you’re in luck. It’s OK to offer your pet a small dollop of plain cooked spuds.
4. Sweet potatoes: These orange tubers are a healthy alternative to white potatoes, as long as you get them to your pet before they’re smothered in marshmallows, butter or brown sugar. A small, plain cooked bite is OK.
5. Gravy: Skip this rich addition to your pet’s meal. If you want to liven up a doggy or kitty dinner, add a dash of low-sodium chicken broth instead.
6. Green beans: These tasty green veggies are a healthy treat year-round. They’re full of vitamins and low in calories. Just be sure to avoid any extra toppings like melted butter, garlic or fried onions.
7. Carrots: These veggies are good for your pet, served cooked or raw. They’re high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. Plus crunching on raw carrots can be good for a dog’s teeth. Just make sure you don’t feed them to your pet if the carrots are swimming in a sugary glaze.
8. Cranberry sauce: Check what’s in your classic holiday concoction. Some recipes are high in sugar or have alcohol, neither of which is good for pets. Other recipes include grapes, raisins or currants, points out the American Kennel Club, which are toxic to animals. Feeding a small bite of plain cranberry sauce is probably OK, but your pet may not even like it. Some critters turn up their nose at the tart taste.
9. Pumpkin pie: Most pet owners know plain, canned pumpkin is a good thing to help with irregular digestion, but that doesn’t mean pumpkin pie has the same benefits. This tasty holiday mainstay has lots of sugar and spices that aren’t necessary or beneficial for your pet. Plus, the whipped cream or topping may be too rich for dogs and hard to digest for lactose-intolerant cats, says Vetstreet. If you want your BFF to get a taste of the season, offer a scoop of plain, canned pumpkin instead.
Watch where you put things. You probably have a lot more going on in the kitchen than usual. Don’t leave garbage bags unattended or food within reach, tempting counter surfers.
Beware of bread dough. If you’re making homemade bread, keep it out of your pet’s reach. When a dog or cat eats raw yeast bread dough, the unbaked dough expands in a warm, moist stomach, as the sugars are converted to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The result is bloat and alcohol poisoning, which can be a life-threatening emergency.
Keep an eye on alcohol. Don’t leave out cups of spiked beverages for your pet to lap up, but also remember that there’s alcohol in some other items like fruitcake. Just a small amount of alcohol (by human standards) can be toxic for pets.
A Facebook acquaintance of mine recently posted about walking past a pet store where volunteers were outside pleading for pet rescue donations. They pointed out how many dogs and cats were euthanized each year, which made her wonder how people could be so fervent about animals when there are so many sick babies in the world.
It’s not that those volunteers dislike babies — or grown-up humans, for that matter — but in some cases, they might simply like animals more.
You know the type, and you may even be one yourself. Some say it’s due to unconditional love. Your cat doesn’t care if you are in your pajamas all day. Your dog doesn’t talk about you behind your back. But when it comes right down to it, does anyone really value animals above humans?
The story of two shootings
Psychology professor and author Hal Herzog looks at the “humanization of pets” in an editorial for Wired. Herzog is the author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.”
“Newspaper editors tell me stories about animal abuse often generate more responses from upset readers than articles about violence directed toward humans. But do Americans really care more about pets than people?” Herzog asks.
He tells the story of two shootings that happened within 50 miles of each other in Idaho in 2014. One was Jeanetta Riley, a pregnant mother of two who was shot by police outside of a hospital while she incoherently waved a knife. The story didn’t make much of a blip on the news radar.
Less than 14 hours later, police in another Idaho town were called about a report of a barking dog locked in a van. An officer claimed when he approached the vehicle the dog (which he misidentified as a pit bull) lunged at him, so he pulled the trigger. Turns out “Arfee” was a Lab and people became incensed at the shooting, which made national news. There was a “Justice for Arfee” Facebook page and a rally. In the end, the shooting was ruled unjustified, and the police department issued an official apology.
“The bottom line is that, at least in some circumstances, we do value animals over people,” Herzog writes. “But the differences in public outrage over the deaths of Jeanetta Riley and Arfee illustrate a more general point. It is that our attitudes to other species are fraught with inconsistency. We share the earth with roughly 40,000 other kinds of vertebrate animals, but most of us only get bent out of shape over the treatment of a handful of species. You know the ones: the big-eye baby seals, circus elephants, chimpanzees, killer whales at Sea World, etc. And while we deeply love our pets, there is little hue and cry over the 24 horses that die on race tracks in the United States each week, let alone the horrific treatment of the nine billion broiler chickens American consume annually.”
Creating a moral dilemma
We obviously love our pets. But to what extent?
Researchers set up a moral dilemma where they asked 573 participants what they would do if they had to choose between saving a dog or a person who had darted in front of a bus. The answers varied depending on the relationship they had with the dog and with the person.
In some scenarios, the dog was the participant’s own personal dog versus a random canine. And the person was either a foreign tourist, a local stranger, distant cousin, best friend, grandparent or sibling.
The dilemma is something along the lines of, “A bus is traveling down the street. Your dog darts in front of it. At the same time, a foreign tourist steps in the path of the bus. Neither your dog nor the tourist has enough time to get out of the way and it’s clear the bus will kill whichever one it hits. You only have time to save one. Which will you save?”
The subjects were much more likely to save the pet over a foreign tourist, versus someone closer to them. People were also much more likely to save their own dog versus a random dog. And women were twice as likely as men to save a dog over a person.
The study was published in the journal Anthrozoos.
Empathy for animals versus people
In another study, sociologists at Northeastern University had college students read made-up news stories in which a victim was attacked by a baseball bat “by an unknown assailant” and left unconscious with a broken leg and other injuries.
The participants were all given the same news story, but the victim in each case was either a 1-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy or a 6-year-old dog. They were asked to rate their feelings of empathy toward the victim after reading the story.
The researchers hypothesized that the victims’ vulnerability — determined by their age, not species —would be the key factor in triggering the most concern in the participants.
The baby elicited the most empathy, with the puppy and adult dog not far behind. The adult person came in last.
“Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering,” said study co-author Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University, in a statement.
“Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of victims, with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full-grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids.”
The research was first presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2013 and has recently been published in the journal Society & Animals.
Although the study focused on cats, Levin says he thinks the findings would be similar for cats versus people.
“Dogs and cats are family pets,” he said. “These are animals to which many individuals attribute human characteristics.”
Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.
So all you wonderful followers of this place – what do you think of some humans seeming to care more for animals?
But sometime during that panicked retreat from the house on Wikiup Bridge Way, the family dog, Izzy, bolted away.
Trying to find her amid the chaos of fire proved too dangerous.
And so this family, like countless others in California’s wine country, left more than just their home behind. When they drove through sheer walls of flame and across an uncertain wooden bridge to get to safety — they left their hearts back on Wikiup Bridge Way.
It turned out, it was the one thing they couldn’t leave behind.
A day and a half later, while the area was still smoldering and roads were still closed, Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen made the nearly-three-mile trek back to the house.
“It was incredibly important,” Weaver, who grew up in that house, tells MNN. “My mother was a wreck for having gone through that. Nobody wanted us to go back because they were worried we would get injured.”
‘I can see …’
In a video of their return, posted on Facebook and shared below, you can hear the men laboring to catch their breath amid blackened trees and still-crackling ruins.
“Izzy!” Weaver is heard calling into the smoky veil. Over and over again.
They push farther and farther ahead. “Izzy!”
“Almost to the house,” Weaver says in the video. “I can see … the gate. The gate’s still standing.”
A moment later, he adds, “I don’t see the house at all. F$#k.”
It had burned to the ground.
But someone was still standing.
“Izzy’s here!” Weaver calls, his voice choked with emotion. “Izzy!”
“Oh my God! Come here, baby!”
The giant dog bounces into view, her tail whirring like a helicopter.
“When she same running around — you can probably hear it in my voice — we were shocked and ecstatic,” Weaver says later. “I wish I could have filmed longer, the happy reunion, but I was so happy I dropped my phone.”
Since the family posted the video, it’s been shared more than 4,000 times. Maybe it’s a testament to the need for all of us to find a happy ending amid heartache.
In any case, Izzy is where she belongs now — in the arms of her family — a testament to faith under fire.
“She didn’t have a burn on her,” Weaver says. “It definitely lifted my family’s spirits.”
YouTube also carried a video:
Well done, Izzy, and Jean and I send you fondest hugs!
When two young black-tailed deer wandered onto a construction site in 2016, they probably didn’t realize how dangerously muddy the ground had become. They both got stuck in the mud, a predicament that could have easily been fatal — if an observant worker at the site hadn’t noticed them and swung into action.
“I wouldn’t have seen them if they hadn’t moved and caught my eye!” wrote Bill Davis, a native of Tacoma, Washington, who was checking on the property for his employer.
When he realized the two yearling deer were stuck, he “orchestrated a rescue operation with his cellphone,” his son-in-law told GrindTV, by contacting a skilled excavator operator who might be able to pluck the helpless deer out of the mud.
Using an uncannily light touch for such a powerful piece of machinery, the operator managed to rescue both deer from the mud. Davis posted one of the rescues in the video above; the actual scooping up of the deer starts at about the 2:30 point.
Of course, it might have been even better for these deer if the property was still forest, not a muddy construction site, and it’s worth noting that habitat loss is one of the main problems facing wildlife around the world. But that was a moot point by the time these deer got stuck, and since Davis couldn’t return their lost patch of habitat, he did the next best thing by making sure they survived this ordeal.
Plus, as Earth Touch News points out, these deer were thought to be yearlings at the time, so they may have already been old enough to rebound afterward.
Davis wasn’t taking any chances, though. “Didn’t sleep much last night [after the rescue],” he wrote on Facebook. “[A]ll I could think about was those little guys getting stuck again, and not finding mama! I’m out there looking to make sure the babies didn’t come back to the mud! No sign of them.”
“It is a time for kindness, love, community and human spirit to connect with nature.”
It’s beyond imagination as to what it must be like in Houston just now!
By writing that sub-heading I am, of course, revealing the fact that Jeannie and I are living a long way from Texas.
But that doesn’t stop our hearts going out to the poor animals who are in the middle of this disaster. Maybe also that doesn’t stop many from extending a helping hand. Here’s how that might be achieved. In that I am republishing an article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on Tuesday.
How to help pets after a disaster
After Hurricane Harvey’s rain and flooding, many animals are expected to be without homes.
Mary Jo DiLonardo, August 29, 2017.
After Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, residents are rushing to recover yet facing catastrophic rain, flooding and evacuations. While many residents headed for safety with their pets in tow, plenty of animals either escaped or were left behind. Animal rescue and shelter administrators say it’s still too early to estimate how many animals are struggling to find their way home.
Shelters in nearby areas unaffected by the storm took in animals from evacuated facilities. The Humane Society of North Texas, for example, made room for 22 animals from a shelter in Corpus Christi that had to shut down.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a disaster response team on the ground offering search and rescue, sheltering and relocation services for animals displaced by the storm.
The ASPCA reports, “Emergency response agencies are receiving a high number of requests for animal-related rescue, and are conducting responsible assessments to determine where resources can be utilized most effectively. The ASPCA stands ready to assist where our resources can have the most impact in saving lives and helping to reunite pets with their families. Residents who need assistance with recovering a pet from their home or emergency sheltering for their pets are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency.”
With so much of the storm’s impact in the Houston area, the Houston SPCA has become a central hub for animal-related needs. Because the storm is still pounding, the SPCA is unsure how strong its impact will be on the area pet population, but the group is fielding offers from individuals and rescue groups willing to donate or transport and foster displaced animals. While needs are still being assessed, one way to help is through direct donations.
How to help animals in any emergency
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, an estimated 15,000 pets were rescued by the New Orleans SPCA, as volunteers scooped cats and dogs off rooftops, out of the water and from flooded streets, reports CNN. However, a whopping 90,000 area pets were never accounted for with some sources saying an estimated 600,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.
As animal lovers all over the country saw images of abandoned pets, they wanted to help. People sent money and rescue groups transported unclaimed pets to shelters and new homes. Those are some of the things you can do to help when disaster strikes.
Donate money. Teams from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States head to areas after disasters to help with transport, rescue and other needs. Donate to them directly, or go online to find shelters directly impacted by the event.
Contact local shelters to see what they need. Some might want local volunteers or item donations, while others may prefer monetary aid. Rescue groups outside the area can contact individual shelters or other local rescue groups to see if there are pets ready to be taken to new homes. Early on, there will likely be temporary shelters set up in hopes that some animals may be claimed by their owners, so rescue groups might not be needed right away.
Be willing to foster. After large disasters, shelters brace for a high volume of new animals. Some shelters might be looking for short-term fosters to care for the animals that were already in their care before the storm hit or to take care of owned pets while the families recover from damage and get back on their feet.
How to protect your pet:
Looking ahead, there are things you can to do be prepared with your pet before disaster strikes, says the ASPCA:
Microchip your pets. Collars and tags can get lost, but it’s easier for rescue workers to help pets reunite with their owners if they are chipped and the information is updated.
Have a go-bag for your pet. Have it packed with leashes, medical info, food, water and anything else your pet needs and keep it by the door.
Download the ASPCA’s free mobile app for your smartphone. It stores your pet’s records and offers tips on what to do if you get separated from your pet.
If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you. Some emergency shelters allow pets. In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which authorized FEMA to rescue, care, shelter and take care of people with pets and service animals. About 44 percent of the people who didn’t evacuate during Katrina stayed because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind, according to a report by the Fritz Institute.
Now read the text that accompanied that photograph.
Dog carrying bag of food turns out to be the hero Texas needed In times like these, even ordinary creatures do extraordinary things.
In troubled times, we all look to heroes to step up and lead us from a dark place to one of hope. And in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which battered and then flooded much of southeast Texas over the weekend, we didn’t have to wait long. Countless everyday Texans have risked their own lives to haul people and pets out of the affected areas.
But Otis may be the unlikeliest hero of all.
After all, he wasn’t exactly leaping into the breach when Tiele Dockens snapped this picture over the weekend. Nor was the golden retriever hauling anyone out of danger.
Instead, Otis was carrying cargo that was precious mostly to him: a big bag of dog food. And he was just trying to get it home.
But there was something about that picture — a humble family pet clinging tightly to his one precious possession, despite the chaos all around. A new survival icon emerges
Since Dockens posted the image on Facebook — a photo snapped while she was taking stock of the flood-wracked city of Sinton — the post has been shared more than 35,000 times.
“We are a population of about 6,000,” Dockens told the Weather Channel. “We were out today clearing tree limbs from streets. Families are already starting to clean up. Our town is still out of water and power. I was driving around checking on family and friends’ properties that decided to evacuate.”
Then she spotted Otis.
“With his dog food of course,” Dockens added.
It turned out, the man taking care of Otis, who belonged to his grandson, had been looking for the furry refugee who had slipped out of a screened-in back porch on Friday night.
“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.
Amid devastating floods, with countless family pets already missing, the situation could have taken a dark turn. But not long after he was photographed high-tailing it down a city street, Otis found his way back home.
And, along the way, into the hearts of millions.
Sure, images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be a powerful cure for despair. And right now, Texas needs all the heroes it can get.
But sometimes, we need a simple reminder from our four-legged friends that they are in this mess, too. They’re trying to get by one way or another. And if that happens to involve looting — err, retrieving — a bag of food, then this is a survivor’s tale worth cheering for.
Please, please if there is anything that you can do to help alleviate what the animals are experiencing please do so.
The day on a farm starts so early that it’s easy to imagine that you’d get worn out pretty quickly. Unless you happen to be a border collie.
This border collie either paced itself all day, consumed an energy drink (kidding … please do not let your dog consume an energy drink) or just started its day, but the dog is so very pumped to spread some hay. The dog’s farmer companion can’t even keep up with the pup! The hay is barely on the pitchfork before the border collie has yanked it off the truck and shaken it around the ground.
This seems like an efficient way to spread hay, too. The border collie gets to expend some energy, the human just has to stand on the bed of a truck and the hay goes exactly where it needs to. After this, maybe they go and sit on the porch and admire their hard work. Or they go and herd sheep. Seeing the energy level of this dog, it’s probably sheep herding.
When Jeneanne Lock was undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and stage 1 thyroid cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to help herself — and her family — deal with the disease. She regularly saw therapy dogs come through the center during her treatment and their owners often told her of the advantages of four-legged therapy.
“They spoke of all the benefits of having a pet through and after treatment, how it was helpful to the patient, as well as the caregivers and other family members,” Lock says. “That’s why I was considering adopting an animal.”
Plus, it helped that her two kids were begging to get a dog. So they took a trip to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City “just to look,” Lock says. “Of course we saw Stella and fell in love with her.”
The year-old black-and-white boxer mix was soon jumping in the car and heading home with them.
“She’s been a wonderful addition to our family,” Lock says. “For me, just the emotional and mental aspect of being a cancer patient, it was almost more challenging emotional and mentally then physically. But my oncologist said most if not all cancer patients experience anxiety or depression or both. I was aware of my own mental health through my cancer battle and wanted to do things that would promote maintaining mental health, so things like going for a walk with Stella really helped improve my mood.”
The sweet, caring pup seems to know how to act with each member of the family, Lock says. Stella is calm and comforting around Lock, yet playful with 9-year-old Ruby and 6-year-old Andres.
When they first brought Stella home, Lock was getting daily radiation after eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and still had several more surgeries to look forward to.
“The toll of all that, the cumulative effects, were I had a lot of fatigue and a lot of soreness in different parts of my body,” she says. “What I was doing medically to recover were things like going to physical therapy but being at home and having Stella to take walks with improved my mood and it also helped me build up energy and strength.”
But she wasn’t the only one that benefited.
“My children had some pretty traumatic experiences watching me,” Lock says. “I know Stella’s helped me, but I also know she’s helped my children.”
Lock is now cancer free, with both of her cancers in remission. She credits her rescue pet with helping her get through the experience.
“Our dog is so full of love and energy, she’s just been a great companion,” she says. “We love having Stella and we look forward to spending more years with her as part of our family.”
Watch their story here:
Uploaded on Jun 30, 2017
Jeneanne and her children adopted Stella from Best Friends Animal Society just as Jeneanne was completing a difficult health journey. What Stella brought to the family has been immeasurable. For more information on Best Friends and its many lifesaving programs, go to best friends.org.
Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to about 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.
Welcome to August, a month defined by loud cicadas, pool parties, humidity and children fretting about an impending return to school. When it comes to celestial happenings, however, there is no larger star this month that our own moon. From a partial lunar eclipse to the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in almost a century, the moon will be the cause of most eyeballs drifting towards the heavens over the next several weeks.
Below is a small sampling of some of the night and day celestial events to look forward to this month. Wishing you all clear skies!
The rise of the full Sturgeon Moon (Aug. 7)
August’s full moon, nicknamed the Sturgeon Moon, will rise for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on the evening of Aug. 7 at 8:05 p.m.
The Sturgeon Moon gets its name from the species of fish native to both Europe and the Americas that is easily caught this time of year. Other nicknames include the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon and Grain Moon. In countries experiencing winter, such as New Zealand, native Māori called this full moon “Here-turi-kōkā” or “the scorching effect of fire is seen on the knees of man.” This reference is to warm fires that glow during the Southern Hemisphere’s coldest month.
Partial lunar eclipse (Aug. 7 & 8)
As a kind of consolation prize for missing out on this month’s total solar eclipse over North America, those living on the continents of Africa, Asia and Australia will bear witness to a partial lunar eclipse. Spectators in Europe will catch the tail end of the eclipse as the moon rises around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7.
This phenomenon occurs between two to four times a year when the moon passes through a portion of the Earth’s shadow. Because the shadow cast is more than 5,700 miles wide, lunar eclipses last much longer than solar eclipses. In some instances, totality can occur for as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes. As a reference, maximum totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse will top out a mere 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The longest, at over 7 minutes, won’t take place until the year 2186.
This month’s partial lunar eclipse is the last of the year. Next year, total lunar eclipses will take place in January and July.
Perseid meteor shower (Aug. 12)
Regarded as one of the best celestial light shows of the year, the Perseid meteor shower occurs from July 17 to Aug. 24 and peaks on the evening of Aug. 12.
The shower, sometimes creating as many as 60 to 200 shooting stars per hour, is produced as Earth passes through debris left over from the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. This 16-mile-wide periodic comet, which completes an orbit around the sun every 133 years, has been described as “the single most dangerous object known to humanity.” This is because every instance of its return to the inner solar system brings it ever closer to the Earth-moon system. Though astronomers believe the comet bears no threat for at least the next 2,000 years, future impacts cannot be ruled out.
If the comet were to hit Earth, scientists believe Swift-Tuttle would be at least 27 times more powerful than the asteroid or comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. For now, you can take in the beauty of the debris from this harbinger of doom by looking north towards the constellation Perseus. Because the moon will be three-quarters full, you’ll need to search out a nice dark sky to escape any light pollution from urban environments.
Total solar eclipses occur when the new moon moves between the Earth and the sun and casts its shadow on the planet. This shadow is comprised of two concentric cones –– the larger penumbra, which from Earth only shows the sun partially blocked, and the much smaller umbra, which blocks the sun completely. It is within this latter cone that totality will occur, giving spectators on the ground what’s considered by many to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
The Great American Eclipse will actually first start out in the Pacific (at this point, it will actually, unbelievably rise while completely eclipsed!), making landfall on the Oregon community of Lincoln Beach at 10:16:01 a.m. (PDT). From there, the moon’s shadow will continue to race across the U.S. The point of greatest eclipse, where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes nearest to the center of Earth, will take place in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and last 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. In celebration of the event, the town has temporarily renamed itself “Eclipseville,” and expects anywhere from 55,000 to 150,000 tourists to visit in advance of Aug. 21.
The next total solar eclipse over the U.S. will take place on April 8, 2024.
New moon (Aug. 21)
Fresh after wowing the U.S. during the day with its solar theatrics, August’s new moon will give way to dark skies for the next several nights. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a blanket and head outside into the still-warm summer evenings to enjoy the heavens in all their glory. With some remnants of the Perseids still visible, it will also offer a chance to catch some of the faintest shooting stars.
Look for Earth’s shadow (All year)
Ever wonder what causes the beautiful bands of color in the eastern sky at sunset or the western sky at sunrise? The dark blue band stretching 180 degrees along the horizon is actually the Earth’s shadow emanating some 870,000 miles into space. The golden-red portion, nicknamed the “Belt of Venus,” is Earth’s upper-atmosphere illuminated by the setting or rising sun.
Now that you know about this phenomenon, choose a night or morning sometime to try and pick it out. You’ll need a western or eastern horizon that’s fairly unobstructed to get a clear view of our planet’s huge curved shadow.
Looking ahead to September
As fall beckons, the biggest event next month will be the dramatic death dive of the Cassini spacecraft into Saturn. Taking place on Sept. 15, Cassini will make discoveries about Saturn right up until its fiery conclusion, with unprecedented photos and data captured and transmitted during its final moments.
It is going to be quite a month!
Oh, and for those of you that want to know the timings of the eclipse over North America there is a useful reference site here, from which I republish the following table.
Eclipse Start & End: Local Time for US States
The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 15:46 UTC, which corresponds to 8:46 am Pacific Time. It will reach the coast of Oregon at Lincoln City, just west of Salem, at 9:04 am local time. The eclipse will reach its maximum point here at 10:17 am.
From here, the Moon’s central shadow will move inland. The following table shows when the Moon will begin to move in front of the Sun and the moment it completely covers the Sun, as seen from some locations along the central path of the eclipse. All times are local.