Nature never ceases to amaze

Meeting of the waters

Two Powerful Forces

Mother Nature making a bubble freeze

Nature at her best

Massive 3,000-year-old Maya ceremonial complex discovered in ‘plain sight’

An enormous pyramid-topped platform, unnoticed until detected with the help of lasers, is the oldest and largest structure in the Maya region.

By Tim Vernimmen PUBLISHED June 3, 2020

A 3D image of the monumental platform at Aguada Fénix (in dark brown). The structure, built some 3,000 years ago, was detected by an airborne laser tool known as LiDAR.Photograph by Takeshi Inomata

An enormous 3,000-year-old earthen platform topped with a series of structures, including a 13-foot-high pyramid, has been identified as the oldest and largest monumental construction discovered in the Maya region, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature. It’s the latest discovery to support the emerging view that some of the earliest structures built in the Maya region were significantly larger than those built more than a millennium later during the Classic Maya period (250-900 A.D.), when the empire was at its peak.

The discovery took place in Mexico’s Tabasco State at the site of Aguada Fénix, about 850 miles east of Mexico City. It is in a region known as the Maya lowlands, from which the Maya civilization began to emerge.

In 2017, researchers conducted a LiDAR survey that detected the platform and at least nine causeways leading up to it. The groundbreaking laser technology typically is used from aircraft to “see” structures beneath dense tree canopy below, but in this case it revealed a stunning discovery sitting unnoticed in plain sight in Tabasco’s semi-forested ranch lands for centuries, if not millennia.

An aerial view of Aguada Fénix without LiDAR shows how the monument “hides” in semi-forested ranch land.Photograph by Takeshi Inomata

So why was such a big monument at Aguada Fénix not identified earlier?

“It’s fairly hard to explain, but when you walk on the site, you don’t quite realize the enormity of the structure,” says archaeologist Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona, the lead author of the paper. “It’s over 30 feet high, but the horizontal dimensions are so large that you don’t realize the height.”

“Rituals we can only imagine”

The initial construction of the platform is believed to have began around 1,000 B.C. based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal inside the complex.

But the absence of any known earlier buildings at Aguada Fénix suggests that at least up until that period, the people living in the region—likely the precursors of the Classic Maya—moved between temporary camps to hunt and gather food. That has researchers speculating over how and why they suddenly decided to build such a massive, permanent structure.

Inomata estimates that the total volume of the platform and the buildings on top is at least 130 million cubic feet, meaning it is bigger even than the largest Egyptian pyramid. He also calculated that it would have taken 5,000 people more than six years of full-time work to build.

“We think this was a ceremonial center,” Inomata says. “[It’s] a place of gathering, possibly involving processions and other rituals we can only imagine.”

No residential buildings have been found on or around the structure, so it is unclear how many people may have lived nearby. But the large size of the platform leads Inomata to think that the builders of Aguada Fénix gradually were leaving their hunter-gatherer lifestyle behind, likely aided by the cultivation of corn—evidence of which also has been found at the site.

“The sheer size is astonishing,” says Jon Lohse, an archaeologist with Terracon Consultants Inc.who studies the early history of the area and was not involved in the report. He does not think, however, that the structure itself is evidence of a settled lifestyle. “Monumental constructions by pre-sedentary people are not uncommon globally.”

What it does unmistakably show, Lohse adds, is an advanced ability for people to collaborate, probably in the strongly egalitarian fashion that he believes was typical of early societies in the Maya region. Inomata agrees, and thinks the platform was built by a community without a strong social hierarchy.

As potential evidence, Inomata points to the even older ceremonial site of San Lorenzo, 240 miles to the west in a region that was settled at the time by the Olmec people. Built at least 400 years earlier than Aguada Fénix, San Lorenzo features an artificial terraced hill that may have had a similar function. But it also has colossal human statues that may indicate that some people held higher status in society than others.

It may seem likely that the people who built Aguada Fénix were inspired by San Lorenzo, but archaeologist Ann Cyphers of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who has worked at San Lorenzo, considers the sites “quite distinct,” adding that the pottery found there is also very different from that found at Aguada Fénix.

A checkerboard of colored soil

So what might have been the purpose for undertaking such a massive communal building project? Study coauthor Verónica Vázquez López of the University of Calgary believes that it might have been a statement of intent: a formal collaboration designed to bring different groups of people together over the course of several generations.

Some features at Aguada Fénix could suggest this collaboration, such as a cache of precious jade axes that may have symbolized the end of the collaborative construction project. Archaeologists also have noted that some of the layers of soil used to build the platform were laid down in a checkerboard pattern of different soil colors, which may have symbolized the contribution of different groups.

“Even today, people who live in different quarters of some Mexican towns each clean their part of the central church plaza,” Vázquez López observes.

By 750 B.C., the monumental structure at Aguada Fénix was abandoned, and by the Classic Maya period more than 1,000 years later, people in the region were building higher pyramids that became accessible only to the elite atop much smaller platforms with less space for broader communities to gather.

“In the early period, people got very excited,” Inomata says. “Later on, they became a bit less enthusiastic.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/history/2020/06/massive-ancient-maya-ceremonial-complex-discovered-hiding-plain-sight?__twitter_impression=true

🏵️🐝 Happy World Bee Day 🐝🏵️

“If the bee disappeared off of the surface of the globe, than man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Albert Einstein

 

Engineering Coastal Communities as Nature Intended

defenders.org

9-11 minutes


People love to live by the water. For centuries, cities like New York, Miami, Honolulu and San Francisco have attracted residents and tourists from around the world. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population lives in counties on the coast, and that percentage is growing in footprint, density, number and population, reshaping and hardening coastlines in the process. 

Coasts also provide habitat for great numbers of plants and animals and are typically biodiversity hotspots. But all this coastal development is reducing the amazing biodiversity along our shorelines. 

Oregon coast as seen from Ecola State Park

Sristi Kamal

Coastal Defenses

Development has also reduced our coasts’ natural ability to resist and recover from natural disasters and has removed habitat that provides shelter for wildlife and ecosystem services for humans. Traditional coastal defenses like sea walls and levees are widely used to protect communities, but these artificial coastal barriers can lead to significant erosion or unwanted sediment deposition and negatively impact water quality. They are also time-consuming to build and cost billions to construct, maintain and repair.

Increasingly, engineers and planners are starting to pay more attention to the potential of “Nature and Nature-Based Features” (NNBFs) as environmentally friendly solutions—like mangrove forests, beach dunes, coral reefs and wetlands—that fulfill the same roles as an important weapon in the fight against coastal storms and flooding. 

Pea Island NWR dunes Cape Hatteras

D. Rex Miller

NNBFs include natural defenses and human-built features that mimic them. Using NNBFs in coastal development decisions can therefore mean constructing new ones or protecting existing natural ones. NNBFs are often cheaper and require less maintenance and management. They can also make communities more resilient to climate change by adapting to changes in the environment. They are part of the larger concept of “green infrastructure,” or attempting to harness nature’s resilience to solve human problems. And its not all-or-nothing – NNBFs can complement artificial coastal infrastructure. 

NNBFs like wetlands are essential to protect coasts from storm surges because they can store and slow the release of floodwaters, reducing erosion and damage to buildings. One study found that salt marshes can reduce wave height by an average of 72%. Coral reefs can serve as a barrier and reduce wave height by an average of 70%. These reefs protect coastal cities near them such as Honolulu and Miami, saving lives and preventing monetary damage.

Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head

Megan Joyce/Defenders of Wildlife

 
When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Northeast in 2012, homes on beaches fairly near to sand dunes were protected by these natural buffers, which can blunt the force of waves and wind. In many cases, homes on beach areas where dunes had been removed (often to improve ocean views) were completely destroyed by Sandy. Removing many of the mangroves that lined Biscayne Bay in South Florida may have helped spur economic development. However, it also removed another natural barrier against storm surge. This increased vulnerability of homes and businesses to the hurricanes that frequently hit Miami. Coastal communities in Indonesia hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami that had removed their mangrove forests suffered more damage and more lost lives than areas where mangroves had been allowed to remain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a number of projects that look at features like mangroves and their ability to protect coasts.

Hurricane Sandy damaged Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

Image

Image Credit

David Bocanegra/USFWS

Breach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE) after Hurricane Sandy

Image

Image Credit

Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Aerial photo of damaged homes along New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy

Image

Image Credit

Greg Thompson/USFWS

Damage from Hurricane Sandy at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, homes on the Jersey Shore

Bringing Wildlife Back 

People are not the only ones who can benefit from NNBF. Restoring or protecting habitat can bring back habitat for wildlife and provide space for wildlife to live alongside coastal human communities. This includes imperiled species.

For example, coastal dunes restoration can improve habitat for threatened species like the piping plover, red knot and seabeach amaranth. Restoring mangroves can help protect species like the wood stork and American alligator, and the endangered hawksbill turtle. Protecting coral reefs can help threatened elkhorn and boulder star corals, and ensure habitat remains for the hawksbill sea turtle. People and wildlife can both have space.

Red knots and horseshoe crabs

Image

Alligator Okefenokee NWR

Image

Image Credit

Steve Brooks

Hawksbill sea turtle

Image

Image Credit

Michele Hoffman

NNBFs can also improve water quality. Much of the rainwater and flood water that goes on vegetation or sand will sink into the ground where it is cleaned. Healthy coral reefs and healthy mangroves help improve marine waters. And by avoiding artificial coastal defenses, polluted runoff can be avoided. Improving water quality can help marine imperiled species. For example, manatees in Florida have been devastated by red tide in recent years. Similarly, water quality issues can stress or kill threatened corals that need clear water for photosynthesis. Even species far offshore, like orca, can be hurt by contaminated runoff from development. Creating habitat for wildlife can even have additional economic benefits beyond coastal protection. It can offer opportunities for economic activity like kayaking, fishing and birding.

Corals at Barren Island, Palmyra Atoll

Image

Image Credit

Andrew S. Wright/USFWS

Scenic Mangroves on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail Everglades National Park

Image

The Future of NNBF

In recent years, the U.S. Congress has become interested in the potential of NNBFs, instructing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate NNBFs into coastal defense projects where appropriate. The Corps’ research and development center has taken a leading role in researching NNBFs. Through its engineering with nature initiative, it has developed numerous projects exploring NNBFs’ potential. However, the regional offices have made less progress in taking advantage of NNBFs in their coastal defense projects. NNBFs should be a priority for the Corps and coastal communities around the country – and the world. 

Advocating for NNBFs is part of Defenders of Wildlife’s mission to protect habitat and we believe they are a strong tool for addressing the overall biodiversity crisis faced by the planet. 


More information:

To learn more about NNBFs generally, check out the Army Corps’ Engineering with Nature website. If you’re interested in learning more, Defenders of Wildlife’s Center for Conservation Innovation will be hosting a talk on NNBFs given by an Army Corp’ expert. Click here to sign up to watch it. To learn more about green infrastructure generally, check out ESRI’s Green Infrastructure story map. There are a lot of green infrastructure projects that you can help with at home, such as Defender’s Orcas Love Raingardens project in the Pacific Northwest. 

Author(s)

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter

Senior Conservation Policy Analyst

Andrew works on wildlife conservation policy at the Center for Conservation Innovation, where he researches and analyzes conservation governance strategies and emerging policy issues, and works with other CCI members to develop innovative approaches to habitat and species protection.

comments

Wildlife & Wild Places

Sunset over Rodeo Beach CA

Follow Defenders of Wildlife

https://defenders.org/blog/2020/05/engineering-coastal-communities-nature-intended#utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=blogs&utm_campaign=blogs-NNBFs-051720#utm_source

Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Incredible Footage of Monarch Butterfly Swarm

fstoppers.com

Drone Disguised as Hummingbird Captures Incredible Footage of Monarch Butterfly Swarm by Usman Dawood 2-3 minutes Usman Dawood’s picture It’s not very often that I watch a video online and react by literally gasping and audibly saying “wow.” Watching Captain America stare down Thanos and his whole army, in an IMAX cinema, on a huge screen, was the last time I reacted in such a way. This time, even without the huge screen, resolution, and quality, this video is simply incredible. In a recent video from Nature on PBS, you’ll be able to get super close to resting Monarch Butterflies. As they wait for the temperature to rise, they huddle together to keep warm. Without disturbing any of the butterflies, they’ve managed to take close-up footage of the butterflies. The way they’ve managed to do this is by disguising a drone to look like a Hummingbird. As described in the video, hummingbirds are not a threat to the monarch butterflies, and for that reason they don’t react to it at all. Once the temperature rises sufficiently the butterflies take flight and the scene is simply magical. The butterflies are able to comfortably fly around and even land on the drone without being hurt. This is because the drone has been designed in a way to ensure it cannot harm the butterflies. As the narrator explains in the video, the drones moving parts have been shielded to keep them safe. This is precisely the kind of content I needed during this time and I’m very happy to have witnessed such beauty; even if it is just on a screen in my home. Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

https://fstoppers.com/



documentary/drone-disguised-hummingbird-captures-incredible-footage-monarch-butterfly-swarm-480714

A Surprise May Snowstorm Pounded Parts Of The Northeast In 1977 | Weather Concierge

Weather Concierge
Weather Concierge

Posted by Tom Moore

In May of 1977,  an unusual snow event occurred across parts of the Northeast. Before it was all over, one to two feet of snow blanketed some higher elevations. The snow was accompanied by high winds. Extensive tree and power line damage kept crews working for days to restore power.

Rare Event

Snow is not unheard of in May over parts of the Northeast, but many residents will refer to the Mother’s Day event in 1977. Actually, Mother’s Day (May 8th) was chilly with rain across much of the region. That night and into the next day, some dramatic changes were occurring in the upper atmosphere which would usher in cold air and change the rain to snow.

From parts of the Mid-Atlantic through Upstate New York and into New England, the landscape became whitened with snow on Monday, May 9th and the following night. The last flake didn’t stop falling until early on the  10th.

Heavy wet snow was accompanied by fierce winds across parts of New England. Massachusetts was particularly hard hit. There were blizzard conditions at times in eastern Massachusetts.  There were wind gusts to 55 mph at times.

Boston only picked up .50 inches of snow but that set a record for the latest measurable snowfall. Foxboro, Massachusetts picked up 10 inches and 7 inches fell down to Providence, Rhode Island.  For Providence, it was their only measurable snowfall in the 20th century. Heavier amounts of snow fell west of Boston with Worcester picking up 12.7 inches from the event.

One driver gave this description on a message board from www.americanwx.com about the storm :

I was out driving around the communities between 128 and 495.. Lincoln, Sudbury, Concord…

It was absolutely crazy.  Tree branches were crashing down, roads blocked, no plows out…  I called my boss and said, “I need to come in the driving is dangerous out here”.  He acted like I was crazy.  I told him we had 8 inches of snow on the ground and it was snowing heavily.

Here is another account:

We lived in Lexington at the time and lost many tree branches. My Dad was at a meeting at my school that evening, a mile and a half away from home, and couldn’t get home for more than a day because all the roads were blocked. He had to stay with friends that night.

Farther west, the Berkshires of Massachusetts picked up 10-20 inches of snow. 500,000  customers were without power across Massachusetts. Extensive power outages also extended westward into eastern New York and down into Connecticut.

In New York, a foot of snow fell in higher elevations west of Albany and 5 inches fell in the Glen Falls area. Parts of the Mohawk Valley saw 2 to 3 inches of snow. A couple of locations in the Finger Lakes region picked up 4 inches of snow. One location in the Catskill Mountains reported a whopping 27 inches of snow.

Crews attempt to restore power in western Massachusetts while snow is falling on May 9, 1977. Credit-WMEC.

The higher elevations of northern Connecticut picked up over a foot of snow. Hartford recorded 1.5 inches.

Photo of snow on the ground at Tolland, Connecticut, on May 9, 1977. Public Domain.

Only a trace of snow fell around New York City but that was the latest snowfall on record. Trace amounts fell over New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania. Thunderstorms in southern Pennsylvania were accompanied by 70 mph winds.

The only good thing about the storm was that temperatures in the lower elevations were above freezing and with the higher sun angle, most of the roads didn’t become snow covered.

Northern New England also saw snow but only light amounts fell.

Snowfall map for the May 9-10, 1977storm. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/Northeast snowstorms.

Meteorological Conditions

On May 8th there were two areas of low pressure that were moving eastward. The first one was moving across southern Ontario while the other was moving into southern Pennsylvania. These systems were responsible for chilly temperatures and areas of rain.

Around the East Coast, there was a deep trough of low pressure developing. At the surface, the Pennsylvania low became the one dominant low around coastal New England, with, with a deep upper-level trough aloft. Coler sir flowed down into the Northeast region from Canada. There was also some very cold air aloft that was manufactured by the upper trough.

Map 0Z May 10, 1977, showing a deep upper-level trough on the East Coast. Map Credit-Kocin-Uccellini/ Northeast Snowstorms.

As temperatures fell on May 9th, the rain changed to snow in many locations. Due to the time of year, it was mainly an “elevation” snow event, but parts of southeast New England was proximate to the upper-level trough so significant snow fell at the lower elevations as well.

Surface weather map for May 9, 1977, shows a strong low-pressure system along the East Coast and associated precipitation. Map Credit- NOAA Central Library (Daily Weather Maps).

With leaves on the trees and heavy wet snow falling all you had to do was add significant wind to create havoc with trees falling on power lines all over.

Even though the main snow event was on Monday, May 9th, this event is still referred to as the “Mother’s Day Snowstorm” and it’s usually the one first that is mentioned when the topic of may snow comes up. CategoriesSomething Moore Tagsdamage, event, may, norttheast, powerlines, record, snowstorm, wind

https://www.weatherconcierge.com/a-surprise-may-snowstorm-pounded-parts-of-the-northeast-in-1977/

How Halley’s Comet will spark tonight’s meteor shower

fox43.com

4-5 minutes


The second meteor shower in as many weeks will dazzle the eyes of stargazers around the globe tonight.

The second meteor shower in as many weeks will dazzle the eyes of stargazers around the globe, but the light show will be battling against the glow of a nearly full moon when it reaches its peak.

The Eta Aquarids is an annual meteor shower in early May, and this year, reaches its climax on Monday night and the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning.

“This shower happens to be one of if not the best in the Southern Hemisphere,” AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said. “It is a moderate shower for the Northern Hemisphere.”

People living south of the equator may count as many as 40 shooting stars per hour at the height of the celestial light show, the American Meteor Society (AMS) said. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America.

“From the equator northward, they usually only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn,” the AMS added.

This year, the meteor shower will be peaking just two nights before the final supermoon of 2020. The bright moon may make it difficult to see some of the fainter meteors, but it should not completely wash out the shower.

Of course, weather and cloud cover will significantly factor into how well sky gazers in different parts of the country are able to witness the meteor shower.

Onlookers across the southern U.S. and the interior West are forecast to have the best viewing contains for 2020’s iteration of the Eta Aquarids. Mainly clear conditions are also on tap for parts of New England and into Quebec.

A storm gathering over the central U.S. will spread disruptive clouds over much of the Midwest and into parts of Appalachia, obscuring the night sky.

Clouds could also spoil the meteor shower over the Pacific Northwest as a storm moves into the region.

The Eta Aquarids will be active on the nights leading up to and immediately following the peak, so people that have cloudy weather on Monday night may be able to spot some shooting stars later in the week when the clouds clear.

No special equipment is needed to watch a meteor shower, although people should pack some patience when heading out to spend some time under the stars.

“Give yourself a solid hour to look for meteors. Get comfortable. Lay down on a blanket, or a reclining chair,” Samuhel said.

People should also avoid looking toward the moon, which will be above the horizon for most of the night. Looking at the moon can make it harder to see meteors, so try to focus in the darkest part of the sky.

Where to see the Aquarids in 2020. AccuWeather

The best time to watch the meteor shower will be after midnight once the shower’s radiant point climbs above the horizon.

The radiant point is simply the part of the sky where the meteors originate, but you do not need to look in this direction so spot meteors. However, as the radiant point climbs higher in the sky, more and more meteors will able to be seen.

Many of the meteor showers throughout the year are caused by debris left behind by comets when they visit the inner solar system. When this debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns incredibly bright for a few brief seconds.

“The majority of visible meteors are caused by particles ranging in size from about that of a small pebble down to a grain of sand, and generally weigh less than 1-2 grams,” the AMS said.

The debris that causes the Eta Aquarids is actually dust left behind by one of the most famous comets – Halley’s Comet.

Halley’s Comet only orbits the sun once every 75 years, but each year in early May, the Earth passes through some of the debris that it left behind.

“The Eta Aquarids are one of two meteor showers sparked by Halley’s comet. The other being the Orionids in October.”

What are shooting stars? This graphic explains. AccuWeather

People that miss out on the Eta Aquarids will need to wait a few months before the next opportunity to catch a meteor shower.

According to the AMS, the next major meteor shower will not peak until late July.

The late-April snowstorm of 1928 | WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

snowstorm

WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

Joe Murgo 4 days ago

<img src=”data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,
<img src=”data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,
<img src=”data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,
<img src=”data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,

Snow happens in April, we’ve even had some snowflakes in May, but there is one late-season snowstorm that ranks way above the rest. The major storm that fell from April 27-29 in 1928 with the bulk of the snowfall coming on the 28th. There was widespread snow between a 1.5 to over 3 feet of snow. This storm helped Somerset to achieve the highest April total snowfall in the state of 38.5″.

What makes this storm so special and damaging was not just because it was one of the heaviest snowfalls ever for the region, but it fell when there were leaves on the trees. This combined with the snow being heavy in weight brought down a tremendous amount of trees, limbs, roofs and entire buildings.

The storm started to form as an area of low pressure was shifting from Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is warm at this time of the year and there was a chilly air mass sinking from Canada into the Central United States.

The storm’s pressure was falling rapidly on the morning of the 27th as it started to turn northward over the Southeast. Thunderstorms raked south of this storm but a windswept rain and snow was spreading northward along the Appalachian Mountains.

The storm bombed (a word for rapidly dropping pressure that is now being nicknamed as bomb cyclones) as it moved to the Mid-Atlantic coastline by the morning of the 28th. This is when the heaviest snow was falling across Central Pennsylvania. A perfect track that hit us while places like Pittbsurgh and to the west got little to no snowfall.

This storm made headlines. For it’s destruction.

Roofs were collapsed and keep in mind that with the leaves on the trees, there was that much more area for the snow to cling to and bring down more debris. It was a time before snowplows and modern technology. The area was crippled but fortunately, in late April the snow does not stick around too long.

Here is a list of snowfall totals for our region: LocationSnowfall (Inches)Somerset31.5Cresson27Altoona23Ebensburg20State College17.3Lock Haven8Huntingdon6.5Clearfield3

image-4

This storm was one that became a topic of meteorological studies. Categories: Local News, Weather, Weather Headlines, Weather Stories Loading …

WTAJ – http://www.wearecentralpa.com

“Earth Day 2020- Message from Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan”

Mother Nature

Now this is feeding the birds! 🦅

The Magic of Nature 🌈

Toilet Paper Substitutes: Plants You Can Use As Toilet Paper

gardeningknowhow.com Toilet Paper Substitutes: Plants You Can Use As Toilet Paper 3-4 minutes Toilet paper is something most of us take for granted, but what if there was a shortage?

Ever considered what you would do in the absence of this most standard of daily needs? Well, perhaps you could grow your own toilet paper. That’s right! Many plants are useful as a substitute for this hygiene product. Leaves for toilet paper are often more soothing, softer, and as an added bonus, compostable and sustainable. Can You Grow Your Own Toilet Paper? Certain situations can cause toilet paper woes, so it’s best to be prepared. Few things are worse than being shy on some comforting tissue after you do your duty. Good news! You can use plants as toilet paper should the situation call for it. Learn which plants you can use as toilet paper and get growing so you’re never caught short. Toilet paper has only been standard for about a century, but humans had to use something to wipe up. The wealthy used fabric and washed themselves, but everyone else used what was at hand, which in most cases turned out to be plants. Toilet paper substitutes are something you should think about. Why? Imagine a world without toilet paper. It’s not a pretty thought but you can be prepared by growing your own. These plants aren’t flushable but can be buried to compost naturally. In some cases, using leaves for toilet paper is better for the environment and your bum. What Plants Can You Use as Toilet Paper? Following in our ancestor’s footsteps, plant leaves are useful, easy to grow, readily available, and practically free. Plant leaves with a fuzzy texture are particularly delightful. The towering mullein plant (Verbascum thapsis) is a biennial that produces popcorn-like yellow flowers in its second year, but has furry leaves in spring through fall. Similarly, lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) has large leaves soft as a rabbit (or lamb’s ear), and the plant comes back every year. Thimbleberry isn’t quite as fuzzy, but the overall texture is soft and the leaves are as large as an adult’s hand, so you only need one or two to get the job done. Some other options for toilet paper from the garden are: Common Mallow Indian Coleus Pink Wild Pear (tropical hydrangea) Large Leaf Aster Blue Spur Flower Tips on Using Plants as Toilet Paper While the listed plants are generally non-toxic, some people may be sensitive. Before you try the leaves on your bottom, swipe the leaf across your hand or wrist and wait 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, the leaf will be safe to use on more sensitive areas. Because many of these plants lose their leaves in winter, you will have to harvest and stockpile for the cold season. The leaves can be dried flat and stored for future use. The amount of absorbency may be affected a bit, but once the leaf touches its target, the moisture there will reconstitute the foliage.

Toilet Paper Substitutes: Plants You Can Use As Toilet Paper

Let the light show begin

How to see the ‘elusive planet’ Mercury in the night sky in February

space.com
By Joe Rao 21 hours ago Shares

During the first half of February, Mercury will complete its best evening appearance for mid-northern latitude observers during 2020, climbing higher in the west-southwestern sky every evening.

During the first half of February, Mercury will complete its best evening appearance for mid-northern latitude observers during 2020, climbing higher in the west-southwestern sky every evening.

Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the naked-eye planets to see. Because it’s the closest planet to the sun, it is usually obscured by the light from our star.

“Mercury has been known since very early times, but it is never very conspicuous, and there are many people who have never seen it at all,” legendary British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore wrote in “The Boy’s Book of Astronomy,” (Roy Publishers, 1958). “The reason for this is that it always seems to keep close to the sun in the sky, and can never be observed against a dark background.”

Although that’s mostly true, there are times during the year when Mercury can be surprisingly easy to spot. And we are in just such a period right now.

Mercury is called an “inferior planet” because its orbit is nearer to the sun than Earth’s is. Therefore, Mercury always appears, from our vantage point (as Moore wrote), to be in the same general direction as the sun. That’s why relatively few people have set eyes on it. There is even a rumor that Nicolaus Copernicus — who, in the early 1500s, formulated a model of the universe that placed the sun, rather than Earth, at the center of the solar system — never saw it.

Yet Mercury is not really hard to see. You simply must know when and where to look, and find a clear horizon.

For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a great “window of opportunity” for viewing Mercury in the evening sky opened up in late January. That window will remain open through Feb. 17, giving you a number of chances to see this so-called elusive planet with your own eyes.

When and where to look

Currently, Mercury is visible about 35 to 40 minutes after sunset, very near to the horizon, about 25 degrees south of due west. Your clenched fist held at arm’s length measures roughly 10 degrees, so approximately 2.5 “fists” to the left of due west, along the horizon, will bring you to Mercury.

On the evening of Monday, Feb. 10, Mercury (orbit shown as red curve) will reach its widest separation, 18 degrees east of the sun. With Mercury sitting above a nearly vertical evening ecliptic, this will be the best appearance of the planet in 2020 for Northern Hemisphere observers. The optimal viewing times fall between 6 and 7 p.m. local time. Viewed in a telescope (inset), the planet will exhibit a waning half-illuminated phase.

On the evening of Monday, Feb. 10, Mercury (orbit shown as red curve) will reach its widest separation, 18 degrees east of the sun. With Mercury sitting above a nearly vertical evening ecliptic, this will be the best appearance of the planet in 2020 for Northern Hemisphere observers. The optimal viewing times fall between 6 and 7 p.m. local time. Viewed in a telescope (inset), the planet will exhibit a waning half-illuminated phase. (Image credit: Starry Night)

You can also use brilliant Venus as a benchmark. Just look the same distance — 25 degrees — to Venus’ lower right, and you’ll come to Mercury. If your sky is clear and there are no tall obstructions (like trees or buildings), you should have no trouble seeing Mercury as a very bright “star” shining with a trace of a yellowish-orange tinge. Tonight (Jan. 31), Mercury will be shining at magnitude -1.0, which means that only three other objects in the sky will appear brighter: the moon, Venus and Sirius (the brightest star in Earth’s night sky).

In the evenings that follow, Mercury will slowly diminish in brightness, but it will also slowly gain altitude as it gradually moves away from the sun’s vicinity.

It will be at greatest elongation, 18.2 degrees to the east of the sun, on Feb. 10. Look for it about 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, still about 25 degrees to the lower right of Venus. Shining at magnitude -0.5 (just a smidge dimmer than the second-brightest star in the sky, Canopus, in the constellation Carina), it sets more than 90 minutes after the sun, making this Mercury’s best evening apparition of 2020.

While viewing circumstances for Mercury are quite favorable north of the equator, that is not so for those in the Southern Hemisphere, where this rocky little world will hang very low to the horizon while deeply immersed in bright twilight, making the planet very difficult to see. Southern Hemisphere observers will get their chance to spot Mercury in late March and early April, when the elusive planet will appear to soar high into the eastern sky at dawn.

Mercury, like Venus and the moon, appears to go through phases. Soon after it emerged into the evening sky in January, Mercury was a nearly full disk, which is why it currently appears so bright. By the time it arrives at its greatest elongation, or its greatest separation from the sun, on Feb. 10, it will appear nearly half-illuminated. The amount of the planet’s surface illuminated by the sun will continue to decrease in the days to come. When Mercury begins to turn back toward the sun’s vicinity after Feb. 10, it will fade at a rather rapid pace. By Feb. 14, it will dim to magnitude +0.2, nearly as bright as the star Rigel, in the constellation Orion.

By the evening of Feb. 17, Mercury’s brightness will drop to magnitude +1.6 — about as bright as the star Castor, in the constellation Gemini, but only about 9% as bright as it appears now. In telescopes, Mercury will appear as a narrowing crescent. This, in all likelihood, will be your last view of the elusive planet this month, for the combination of its lowering altitude and its descent into the brighter sunset glow will finally render Mercury invisible in the evenings that follow. It will arrive at inferior conjunction, meaning it will pass between Earth and the sun, on Feb. 25. It will reappear in the morning sky in late March and early April.
Swift, with a dual identity

In ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was the swift-footed messenger of the gods. The planet is well named, for it is the closest planet to the sun and the swiftest of the solar system. Averaging about 30 miles per second (48 kilometers per second), Mercury makes a journey around the sun in only 88 Earth days. Interestingly, it takes Mercury 59 Earth days to rotate once on its axis, so all parts of its surface experience long periods of intense heat and extreme cold. Although its mean distance from the sun is only 36 million miles (58 million km), Mercury experiences by far the greatest range of temperatures: 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 degrees Celsius) on its day side, and minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 degrees Celsius) on its night side.

In the pre-Christian era, this speedy planet actually had two names, as astronomers did not realize that it could alternately appear on one side of the sun and then the other. The planet was called Mercury when it was in the evening sky, but it was known as Apollo when it appeared in the morning. It is said that Pythagoras, in about the fifth century B.C., pointed out that they were one and the same.

Rare Mercury transit, the last until 2032, thrills skywatchers around the world
The most enduring mysteries of Mercury
Surprise! Dust ring discovered in Mercury’s orbit

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

https://www.space.com/how-to-see-mercury-february-2020.html?utm_source=Selligent&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=9155&amp;utm_content=SDC_Newsletter+&amp;utm_term=3223716&amp;m_i=5VZinqyUi0x8NGy5q17ENPjc6BPsoXxU8BxxFJF0qJVeZ23FZF%2BwuWUsG6VMZFOfszvtnpQThHQ6%2BlJxP68FwWZlKZOoXo%2BIMMLn94o55f

All About Space Holiday 2019
Need more space? Subscribe to our sister title “All About Space” Magazine for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space)

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

This is familiar territory for photographer Jannicle Wiik-Nielsen. Her portraits of insects, parasites, bacteria, and other exceptionally small life… Follow the link over to National Geographic and get a up close look at creepy crawlies 🐛

“Dash camera captures the moment deer jumped over car on Tennessee highway”

Do Not Disturbed 🐝

🦋Hope you have a magical day ☀️ enjoying the last day of summer 🦋

The snow leopard has been hiding in plain site

 

IMG_20190510_145247

 

Jellyfish: Scary, Squishy, Brainless, Beautiful

Moon Jellies, which are found in Shallow Bays around the world, look like small, not entirely friendly ghosts. They have translucent bells fringed with pale tentacles, and as they pulse along, it almost seems as if the water itself has come alive.

More photos…

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/10/jellyfish-species-reproduction-feeding-ocean/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=sunstills_20181014::rid=13280708075

Watch a Sausage-Size Insect Transform From Larva to Beetle

https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/2018/05/animals-beetles-insects-larvae?__twitter_impression=true

An atheist was walking through the woods admiring the nature around him. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals,” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river,…

An atheist was walking through the woods admiring the nature around him. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals,” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look, and suddenly saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him! He ran up the path as fast as he could. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was gaining on him. He looked over his shoulder again, and now the bear was even closer. In his haste, the man tripped on a root and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him. At that instant the atheist cried out, “Oh my God!” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. “You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?” The atheist looked directly into the light and said, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?” “Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke, “Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Distressed Investors Are Already Buying Houston Homes for 40 Cents on the Dollar

AGR Daily News

One of Schild’s prospects is Joseph Hernandez, a disabled U.S. Army veteran married to a housekeeper. The couple are living in a hotel and saving money by eating only two meals a day. Schild has made them a painful offer. If they walk away from their two-bedroom house, worth $127,000 before Hurricane Harvey, Schild will pick up the mortgage payments, paying nothing else. Although he says he sympathizes with the Hernandezes’ plight, he thinks the offer is fair because he figures the home is now worth less than its $65,000 mortgage.
Hernandez is in a bind. He didn’t buy flood insurance because his house wasn’t in a high-risk area. He can’t afford to rebuild, and he’s been told he’s eligible for only $23,000 in federal assistance. If he turns over the deed, he’s looking at losing the entire $60,000 in equity he had before the flood. “It’s blurry, what’s coming,”…

View original post 87 more words

These Heavenly Photos of 2 Huskies Playing on a Frozen Lake Will Take Your Breath Away | One Green Planet


For Fox Grom, taking the dogs out for a walk in Kirovsk, Russia is just an everyday thing. For us, it’s a glimpse into a winter wonderland where beautiful dogs walk and play on water amidst a stunning backdrop of frozen wonder.

These ethereal photos depict not only a moment of quiet enjoyment for two dogs with their guardian, but also how life looks from the unspoiled midst of a frozen lake. Getting out into nature, no matter the season, always has something to offer in terms of wonderment. We just have to get out there and take advantage of it! These dogs clearly feel at home in what would appear to be an alien and inhospitable environment to many, showing just how adaptable they are.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to take just any dog with you on an outing like this. Siberian Huskies, like these, are suited to frigid climates and are able to tolerate longer durations of time in the elements than other, shorter haired breeds. It’s always important to exercise caution when playing out in the cold with our furry friends! For these two buddies, though, the only concern is having fun in a location where it’s tough to discern where the water ends and the sky begins.

Nothing like a stroll in the middle of the lake

Maybe if I ignore him he’ll go away…

Oh hey, there’s that ball we lost last Summer!

Now this is a refreshing drink of ice water.

Taking a moment in the stillness; a luxury enjoyed by few.


All image source: Fox Grom

Video

Disturbing video shows tiger attacking tourist at safari park; woman killed during rescue attempt | WPMT FOX43

Posted 7:46 PM, July 25, 2016, by Tribune Media Wire
BEIJING — A tourist was killed and a woman was seriously injured after being mauled by tigers at a wildlife park in Beijing on Saturday.

Editor’s note: Some viewers may find the video below disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Surveillance video captured the moment when two visitors got into a verbal argument while driving through the tiger enclosure at Badaling Wildlife Park.

A woman is shown exiting the vehicle and walking to the driver’s side when she is attacked by a tiger and dragged away.

A man and a woman jump out of the vehicle and chase after the tiger. The woman was reportedly attacked by a second tiger during the attempted rescue, according to NBC News.The first woman was seriously injured but is expected to survive.

According to the park’s rules, all guests must keep their windows closed and doors locked while visiting the park.