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Wild About PA

Read Marcus Schneck's blog on the great outdoors of Central Pennsylvania.

Last Build Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 9:04:36 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017

Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:00:48 UTC


Where are the cicadas of Brood II?

The explosive emergence of 17-year periodical cicadas expected about now has yet to fully materialize in many parts of Central Pennsylvania, and may indeed not materialize this year.

Brood II, which is the group of the large insects emerging this year, has never been as abundant or widespread as the gargantuan Brood X, which also is known as the Great Eastern Brood. However, some areas like Bergen County, N.J., have seen millions of cicadas emerge in the past couple weeks.
And, some locations in Central Pennsylvania - notably the Williams Valley/Lykens Valley area between Tower City and the Millersburg-Halifax area - have seen large numbers of cicadas, accompanied by the trademark deafening buzz of the insects in some spots.

Greg Hoover, ornamental entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology and one of the leading cicada authorities in Pennsylvania, said one of the questions he's hearing most often from the media the past few days is "Why don't we have them?"

Part of the answer is the smaller nature of Brood II, but another part is that many areas no longer have "an abundance of uninterrupted woodlands" favored by periodical cicadas they once did. The third part of the answer may reside in the unseasonably cold weather just before Memorial Day, which may have held soil temperatures just below the 64 degrees Fahrenheit required to stir the cicada nymphs to leave their tunnels in the soil in search of mating opportunities.

"Some of those colder overnight temperatures may have slowed things down a bit," said Hoover.

However, he noted, areas southeast and northeast of Central Pennsylvania have seen significant emergences, hinting that "by the end of next week, the peak of the emergence will be past. We're getting close to it, if not in some of the southeastern Pennsylvania counties are past peak."

Central Pennsylvania may have one chance to yet see some emergence out of Brood II, and that chance lies in the rainfall forecast the weekend.

"A rainfall event really triggers" the full emergence," explained Hoover.

If you spot cicadas, please report your sighting to

Media Files:

How to make and play the Native American deer button game

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


The Lenape Indians of eastern Pennsylvania enjoyed games of chance, including a game involving dice-like tokens. Watch video

A dice-type game popular with the Lenape Indians that once inhabited the eastern half of Pennsylvania has been re-imagined by the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and a Lenape descendent, who worked on various projects for the museum.

Known as the Deer Button Game, the Lenape game of chance used thin slices of deer antler or toe bones from deer as the dice. For children's programs, the museum and Jim "Lone Bear" Revey developed a version using dried lima beans in place of antler pieces or bones.

"They liked to play game of chance like dice, but their dice looked a little different," explained Cherie Trimble, museum educator.

They used charcoal to stain one side of each antler slice or toe bone, which is the bone that connects with the deer hoof. "Our native people tried to use every piece of the animals," noted Trimble.

To keep score, they used dried corn kernels.

In the modernized version of the game, each dried bean is marked on one side with a marker, crayon or paint. Dried corn kernels remain the scoring mechanism.

Seven dice are used the game, with each player tossing all seven on his turn and then giving or receiving corn kernels to or from the other players.

For example, four black sides up and the dice-tossing player must give each of the other plays four kernels.

Each player starts the game with 24 kernels of corn. The winner is the player who collects all the corn.

(The complete rules are shown in the accompanying video.)

Trimble said, "Just as we gamble today, they liked to gamble. It may have simply been 'I'm the victor of the game' or maybe it was something to win a prize from somebody else." Stakes in the game may have been a spear point, knife, animal skin, beads or something similar.

Game were "an opportunity for the Lenape to break up the monotony of the winter and the cold season. As the temperatures began to drop, they're having to spend more and more time inside. And, with that, they have more time to play games."

Some Lenape lived in longhouses, which were framed by logs with rounded roofs, covered with sheets of bark, skins or woven rush mats and shared by several families.

"It was a very lively place and would have been a great opportunity to gather some people and play some games," observed Trimble.

Media Files:

Young red fox on the move across Pennsylvania: video

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


Watch as young red foxes explore their environments across Pennsylvania in search of new homes of their own. Watch video

Young red fox, which were born in March and April, are wandering new territories across Pennsylvania on their own for the first time in their lives.

Late last month through this month, they left the areas around the dens where they were born. Some moved on quickly in search of their own home ranges. Others are just now ready to split from their parents.

They find late summer through fall a time of relative plenty, as they forage and hunt for whatever is most easily obtained. Their diet includes rodents, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, opossums, porcupines, domestic cats, chickens, birds, bird eggs, insects, frogs, fruits, grasses and any roadkill they encounter.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, fox populations are affected by availability of food, habitat suitability, coyote predation, and hunting and trapping pressure. Mange is also killing foxes in many parts of the state.

Pennsylvania studies have documented that some high-use agricultural areas, with little cover for either prey or predators, had only one fox per 300 acres, or 2.1 foxes per square mile. Wooded and less heavily farmed areas had one fox per 50 acres or 12.8 per square mile, a high concentration.

They are sexually mature at 10 months and may breed next February in the new home territories they've established.

Media Files:

Solar eclipse on a Pennsylvania backyard in video segments

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 02:14:57 UTC


Beginning, peak and end of the August 21 solar eclipse on a Pennsylvania backyard. Watch video

Watch as the August 21 solar eclipse begins, reaches its peak and concludes on a Pennsylvania backyard, with a pollinator wildflower patch, trees and lawn.

In video segments shot throughout the eclipse, the subtle changes in lighting are displayed on a typical Pennsylvania backyard.

The video begins just before the start of the eclipse at 1:14 p.m., continues through the peak at 2:38 p.m. and concludes at 3:56 p.m.

The entire event has been condensed into a bit more than 2 minutes 35 seconds of video clips.

The August 21 eclipse presented a 70-mile-wide path of totality - the line along which the moon completely blocked out the sun's rays - across parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In Pennsylvania, only a partial eclipse was observed, with the moon covering 75-80 percent of the sun.

More about the total solar eclipse of 2017

Media Files:

When is the next 'once in a lifetime' chance to see a total solar eclipse?

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:05:27 UTC


The next total solar eclipse will come sooner than you expect, and Pennsylvania will have great seats. Watch video

Another "once-in-a-lifetime" total solar eclipse will slide across the U.S. on April 8, 2024, according to NASA.

Pennsylvanians will have an even better seat in six-and-a-half years, as the path of totality - that 70-mile-wide track where the moon completely blocks out the sun - will cut across the northwestern corner of the state, at Lake Erie.


The eclipse will move northeasterly from Mexico through Maine and Newfoundland.

Another total solar eclipse will occur on July 2, 2019, but that will come nowhere near the U.S., with the path of totality cutting across Chile and Argentina. 

More about the total solar eclipse of 2017

Media Files:

Eclipse 'warnings' for Bigfoot, Lizardman

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:47:43 UTC


State agency, mapmaker jump into the world of undiscovered creatures for 2017 U.S. solar eclipse. Eclipse watchers in South Carolina have been 'warned' to be vigilant during the total solar eclipse today for Bigfoot and Lizardman, cryptozoological creatures that are oft reported but never documented. "Regarding possible paranormal activity potentially occurring during the #SolarEclipse2017. As always, if you see something, say something," the South Carolina Emergency Management Division tweeted in a tongue-in-cheek warning August 10. "SCEMD does not know if Lizardmen become more active during a solar eclipse, but we advise that residents of Lee and Sumter counties should remain vigilant," read the tweet. The tweet included a map of Lizardman reports in South Carolina from 1980-2001. Lizardman has been reported as a man-sized, red-eyed, bipedal, scale-covered creature. It is most often reported in the low country of several states in the southeastern U.S. Lizardman tweet from the South Carolina Emergency Management DivisionMarcus Schneck |  According to the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, "The 'Lizard Man' was first spotted in 1988 by Christopher Davis, a then 17-year-old Lee County resident, according to previous Post and Courier reports. "Davis was driving around 2 a.m. one summer morning, when he got a flat tire near Scape Ore Swamp. After he finished changing it, he claimed a "red-eyed devil" appeared about 30-yards away. Davis was able to get into his car and drive as the alleged creature jumped on the roof. He threw the thing off, but said that it was able to keep up with the car at speeds up to 40 mph." A map correlating the eclipse's path of totality - the 70-mile wide strip from Oregon to South Carolina where the moon will completely block out of rays of the sun - with reports of Bigfoot sightings also has hit the internet. The Huffington Post reports, "The map's creator, data visualizer/cartographer Joshua Stevens, isn't a Bigfoot believer himself, but he had seen so many increasingly specific eclipse-related maps that he took it as a challenge to create a new one. "In 2013, Stevens mapped the locations of more than 3,000 sightings listed by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. This year, he used the organization's data to map sightings within the eclipse path, and thus, 'Sunsquatch' was born." The map shows a surprisingly large number of Bigfoot sightings along nearly the entire path of totality. Sunsquatch map correlates solar eclipse path of totality with reported sightings of Bigfoot. [...]

Media Files:

How and when to view the solar eclipse in Pennsylvania

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 15:52:28 UTC


For those not making their way south or west to the eclipse's path of totality, Pennsylvania will offer some amazing viewing opportunities. Watch video Update: Watch the eclipse live A total solar eclipse, which has been described as a once in a lifetime event - will slide across the U.S. on Monday, August 21. The totality, with the moon completely blocking out the rays of the sun, will first strike on the West Coast, at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. It will then move across the country in a southeasterly direction along a 70-mile wide path of totality across parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The lunar shadow will leave the U.S. at 4:09 p.m. The duration of the total solar eclipse will vary by where in the path of totality an observer might be. Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds. Beyond the 70-mile-wide path of totality, observers in the continental U.S., including those in Pennsylvania, will be treated to a partial solar eclipse.  For them, it will look the moon is taking a bite out of the sun's disk. Observers in Pennsylvania will see the moon covering about 75-80 percent of the sun. In Pittsburgh, the partial eclipse will begin at 1:10 p.m., hit its maximum coverage at 2:35 p.m. and end at 3:55 p.m.; in Harrisburg, 1:14 p.m., 2:38 p.m. and 3:56 p.m.; and in Philadelphia, 1:21 p.m., 2:44 p.m. and 4:01 p.m. Never look at a solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Although they seem to be sold-out everywhere, solar-viewing glasses are recommended for anyone planning to view the total solar eclipse, and those glasses should meet the international safety standard ISO 12312-2. However, according to American Astronomical Society, "the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they're ISO-compliant when in fact they are not." The society compiled a list of suppliers and their products that are verified as meeting the standard: American Paper Optics (Eclipser), APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses), Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film), Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses and Viewers), DayStar (Solar Glasses), Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses), Lunt Solar Systems (Sunshade SUNglasses), Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses and Viewers), Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades), Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses), Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer and SolarLite) and TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil). Many eclipse-viewing events across Pennsylvania will have supplies of glasses that meet the recommended safety standards on a first-come-first-served basis. Here's a list of those eclipse-viewing events. A pinhole camera is another device that will render safe the viewing of a solar eclipse, total or other. It's basically two surfaces, one with a pinhole through its center that projects the image of the sun onto the second. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed step-by-step instructions for making a pinhole camera, which is illustrated in this video. Viewers around the world will be provided a flood of images captured before, during and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least 3 NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event. It will be available through NASA's Eclipse 2017 website. NASA EDGE will join forces with the NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium, the University of Southern Illinois Carbondale, and Lunt Solar Systems to air a 4-hour 30-minute live webcast of the total solar eclipse from outside Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois Un[...]

Media Files:

Eclipses have appeared in movies for more than a century

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


The total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, is far from the first experienced by mankind, and our movies attest to our long fascination with celestial events.

Solar eclipse gives rise to specialized merchandise and eats

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


The selection of special solar-eclipse gear appears to be more limited than normally accompanies special events in America. While the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, has been a non-stop media and Internet sensation for weeks, it hasn't produced the dizzying array of products that many American events typically generate. Millions of pairs of special eclipse-viewing glasses have been sold, and reports indicate that millions of fake glasses not up to the task of preventing the concentrated rays of the sun from frying users' retinas likely also were sold. Prices ranged from $1-24. Special sunoculars priced at $129-499 have sold out at many online stores. Solar filters priced at $40-80 have been popular with digital camera owners. Online sources are offering the expected Eclipse 2017 t-shirts, caps, stickers, magnets, mugs, keychains and jewelry. And, books ranging from "Solar Eclipse 2017: The Complete Kids' Guide and Activity Book for the Great American Solar Eclipse" from Science Across America, "Eddie's Eclipse" by Becky Newsom and "Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse" by Astronomy Magazine editor Michael Bakich. However, the crazy merchandising that is almost an American tradition around events like the eclipse hasn't swept the country this time around. It appears much of the spending on this event will be localized in the communities in the transcontinental, 70-mile-wide path of totality, where the moon will completely block out the sun for a few minutes on Monday. That path will cross parts of a dozen states from Oregon southeast through South Carolina. Governments all along that route are expecting road-clogging eclipse tourists, of which millions are expected, to tax public facilities and services to the limit. Flights into airports along the path have been booked solid for months. Special trains running into the same areas have been sold out soon after being announced. Hotel rooms are booked, even at rates sometimes reported at 10 times the norm. Campgrounds will be full and some homeowners have been renting their lawns as campsites for hundreds of dollars. Gas stations have been alerted to stay on top of their supplies to prevent run-ons for gas. People driving to the event have been warned to stock their vehicles with necessities like water and food, as stores and restaurants are expected to run out of supplies. However, outside the path of totality and eclipse tourists traveling into that zone, relatively few vendors have gone after the potential pool of money in search of eclipse-related goods and services. The doughnut industry seems to be one of the sectors most interested in tapping whatever sales might wait among eclipse enthusiasts. Participating Duck Donuts locations, including the stores in Mechanicsburg and Pittsburgh, will offer eclipse-themed half-dozen, dozen and bucket doughnut assortments Saturday, August 19, through Monday, August 21. The featured doughnuts will include chocolate icing with chocolate sprinkles, vanilla icing with Oreo and hot fudge drizzle, chocolate icing with marshmallow drizzle and others. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will have its own special for the eclipse, a chocolate glaze, which will be available Saturday, August 19, through Monday, Aug. 21. Beyond doughnuts, Denny's restaurants across the country will be offering stacks of "mooncakes" at $4 for all you can eat on Monday. It's not that big a shift, as Denny's regular pancakes already are shaped like the full moon. Describing a grilled cheese sandwich/tomato soup combo as "the Great American favorite" and the perfect meal "to celebrate the Great American Eclipse, the Lancaster Tom+Chee restaurant will offer the grilled cheese and melts at buy-one-get-one prices from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday. The first 200 customers on Monday also will[...]

Media Files:

'Ned Smith: Gone for the Day' premieres on WITF

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 18:22:00 UTC


Famed Millersburg artist, writer and naturalist featured in latest documentary in Pennsylvania conservation leaders series by WITF and the Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project. Watch video

Remembered across Pennsylvania for his "Gone for the Day" columns and book of insightful nature observation and documentation, and his deeply moving wildlife paintings, the late E. Stanley "Ned" Smith, of Millersburg, has himself become the subject of a documentary.

The self-trained artist and naturalist, who most Pennsylvanians met through his GFTD column in and his art on the cover of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's magazine, "Game News," is the focus of the latest documentary from WITF and the Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project.

The documentary, "Ned Smith: Gone for the Day," premiered at 8 p.m. Aug. 17 on WITF TV.

With previous documentaries on the likes of Maurice Goddard, Mira Lloyd Dock and Gifford Pinchot, the project is telling the story of Pennsylvania's conservation heritage and the people who helped protect the state's natural resources.

The documentary on Smith features interviews with Pulitzer Prize-nominated nature writer Scott Weidensaul, York wildlife artist and mural designer for Bass Pro Shops Bob Sopchick, and long-time "Game News" writer and associate editor Joe Kosack.

Smith, whose celebrated, 46-year career of thousands of astonishingly accurate drawings and paintings of wildlife for books, magazines and other publications, as well as dozens of limited edition prints, ended with his death from a heart attack in spring 1985. He was 65 years old.

Millersburg volunteers and Ned Smith devotees from the art and wildlife communities beyond the area launched the effort to create The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in 1993. The physical center just east of Millersburg was opened on October 9, 2004. It includes three gallery spaces, including a permanent Ned Smith Gallery to feature selections from a $2.3 million collection of hundreds of original paintings, drawings, field sketches, journal notes and manuscripts donated by Smith's widow, Marie.

In addition to an acclaimed nature and art education program, ongoing live-entertainment series, a saw-whet owl research program and regular, world-class art exhibitions, the center has more than 500 acres of rustic beauty of mountainside and streamside woodland, and more than 12 miles of trails.

Media Files:

Will the solar eclipse destroy my smartphone or digital camera?

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


Everyone's first concern should be protecting their eyes. After that, here are some tips from NASA on safely photographing the eclipse. Watch video Attempting to photograph the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, probably won't damage your smartphone camera, but it could, according to NASA. The space agency's guide to photographing the eclipse notes that lenses on smartphone cameras are "generally very small (about 2 millimeters) and do not admit enough light" to damage the camera. In addition, smartphone cameras "come equipped with UV filters that cut down on some of the visible light landing on the sensor chip," and "they automatically set their exposures for very short times." NASA points out, "Nearly every photographer that comments on this issue says it is OK if you do it very briefly such as when you are taking a scenery photo and the sun is in the picture." On the other hand, some newer smartphones have larger and faster lenses (f/1.7 to f/2.0), which could result in damage if pointed at the sun, both during the eclipse and any other time. With digital cameras, most have an automatic mode that automatically reduces the exposure speed and increase the f/stop, and, according to NASA, "this will not harm the camera." Beyond potential damage to your electronics, attempting to photograph the eclipse greatly increases your chance of accidently glimpsing it with your naked eye and damaging your vision. NASA recommends covering the lens with a solar filter, which will provide some protection - you also want to wear ISO-certified eclipse viewing glasses - and eliminate "sun blooming" to give you a clear image of the solar disk. But, do not look through the camera to view the eclipse. For an additional layer of protection on your smartphone camera, you can use one of the ISO-certified eclipse-viewing glasses to cover the lens. But, do not look through the camera to view the eclipse. Sunglasses of any type are not a substitute for protecting your camera or your eyes. Here's some additional photography advice from NASA: Set up your smartphone on a tripod or a wrap-around mounting so you can fix the angle of the shot before the eclipse starts. The sun disk will be small enough that you will want to avoid the inevitable shaking that occurs when holding the camera. Don't forget to take some photos of the surroundings, what people are doing and such, in addition to shots of the eclipse itself. That will require low light level "twilight" photography on your smartphone, and you may need to download a specific camera app that lets you manually adjust exposure speed and other settings. You might also illuminate the foreground with a flashlight or a low-wattage lamp so that it is discernable under twilight conditions. Practice taking photos several days before just after sunset during twilight. Using optical filters to photograph the eclipse when you are not on the path of totality, which will be nowhere near Pennsylvania, is inherently risky because you are looking at the blindingly bright solar surface. Practice photographing the full moon to get an idea of how large the sun-in-eclipse will appear with your smartphone's lens, or with a telephoto lens attachment, or with your digital camera. Take a time-lapse photo series of the scenery as the light dims with the smartphone or camera secured on a tripod or other mounting so that you can watch the eclipse while your camera photographs the scenery. You might even want to shoot some video in the minutes before, during and after to record people's reactions. For even more tips, check out this NASA tip sheet to photographing the solar eclipse. And, here's a heap of information about the eclipse: Pennsylvania guide to the [...]

Media Files:

Solar eclipse and pre-eclipse events across Pennsylvania

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and dozens of points in between, organizations will be holding events during the total solar eclipse and in advance of it. Across Pennsylvania, organizations from science centers to libraries to state parks have planned events around the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. Most of the events are eclipse-watching parties. Some of the events have activities and programs beyond viewing the eclipse. We've listed those where they apply. Many of the events will provide eclipse-viewing glasses while supplies last. Here's the list: Pre-eclipse events Wednesday, Aug. 16, through Sunday, Aug 20 Harrisburg - "Eclipse Across America" planetarium show, The Planetarium at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, 300 North Street, 12:30 p.m. August 16 and 17, 12:15 and 2 p.m. August 18, and 1 p.m. August 19 and 20; 717-787-4980. Saturday, August 19 Philadelphia - Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., 12:30-7 p.m., Super Solar Saturday, with interactive science experiments, face-painting, live performances, and strolling Star Wars characters, ending with a 7 p.m. screening of "Hidden Figures;" 215-546-7900. During the eclipse on Monday, August 21 Boyertown - Boyertown Community Library, 24 N. Reading Ave., noon, activities; 610-369-0496. Carlisle - Dickinson College's Tome Hall roof observation deck, 343 W. Louther St., 1-4 p.m., 80 percent of sun covered at 2:37 p.m.; 717-245-1413. Coudersport - Cherry Springs State Park, 4639 Cherry Springs Rd., 1-4 p.m., family-friendly activities, solar telescope; 814-435-1037. Dallastown - St. John's Blymire's United Church of Christ, 1009 Blymire Road, 1-4 p.m., 79 percent of sun covered at 2:45 p.m.; 717-244-0655. Darby - Darby Rec Center, 1022 Ridge Ave., noon-4 p.m., viewing plus science exhibits, quizzes and NASA live feed, sponsored by Darby Free Library; 610-586-7310. Ephrata - Ephrata Public Library, 550 S. Reading Road, 2 p.m., program by NASA Solar System Ambassador Ed Pinero, educational activities, interpretive dance, a live stream, solar-themed refreshments; 717-738-9291. Folcroft - Folcroft Library, 1725 Delmar Drive, 1-5 p.m., demonstrations and explanations by the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers, activities for young children, filtered binoculars and telescopes; 610-586-1690. Fredericksburg - Matthews Public Library, 102 W. Main Street, 1-4 p.m., activities and refreshments. Graysville - Ryerson Station State Park, 361 Bristoria Road, 1-4 p.m.; 724-428-4254. Haddonfield - Haddonfield Public Library, 60 Haddon Ave., 1-4 p.m.;  856-429-1304. Holtwood - Muddy Run Observatory, 172 Bethesda Church Road West, noon-4 p.m., solar telescopes, educators. La Plume - Keystone College observatory, 1-4 p.m., telescopes with special filters. Lancaster - North Museum of Nature and Science, 400 College Ave., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., special presentations, NASA live webcast, specialized solar telescopes. Latrobe - Saint Vincent College Sis and Herman Dupre Science Pavilion, 300 Fraser Purchase Rd., 1-4 p.m., projected views. Laureldale - Muhlenberg Community Library, 3612 Kutztown Road, noon-4 p.m., snacks, crafts and videos. Midland - Carnegie Library, 61 N. Street, 1-4:30 p.m., program; 724-643-8980. Mount Joy - Milanof-Schock Library, 1184 Anderson Ferry Road, 2-3:30 p.m.; 717-653-1510. Norristown - Norristown Public Library, 1:30-4 p.m. North Lebanon - Baseball fields adjacent to Heisey's Diner, 1740 Rt. 72, 1:15-4 p.m., sponsored by the Greater Lebanon Valley Lions Club; telescopes, binoculars, solar filters and other projection devices for safe viewing; 757-613-3719. Oakland - Carnegie Library, 4400 Forbes Avenue, 1-3 p.m., eclipse-themed craft. Oakland - WQED Multimedia, 4802[...]

Media Files:

15 things you don't know about solar eclipses

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


Learn more about solar eclipses to prepare for the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21.

Autumn is coming: Have you spotted these 21 signs that fall is approaching?

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


Nature, agriculture and retail are all providing signals beyond any calendar that summer is fading into fall.

Beautiful Pennsylvania: Horde of swallowtail butterflies gathers along Dauphin County Road

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 09:00:00 UTC


A roadside near Klingerstown attracts a mass of swallowtail butterflies. Watch video

A single year of anecdotal evidence does not make a turn-around in any trend in nature, but summer 2017 seems to have been a good one for large, showy butterflies in many parts of Pennsylvania.

Large numbers of swallowtails have been observed, and even monarch butterflies seem to have experienced an increase.

Until several similar years have been recorded back-to-back none of that can be interpreted as anything more than locally observed, one-time incident.

Nevertheless, it's been a riveting phenomenon for many observers, particularly those who have witnessed it in pollinator gardens they created to service creatures like the butterflies.

The phenomenon appears to be starting its wind-down towards the end of summer, but can still be experienced by those who look for it.

Here are links to the previous entries in our Beautiful Pennsylvania video series.

Media Files:

Conspiracy building to keep you from seeing Perseid Meteor Shower tonight

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:31:00 UTC


Perseid Meteor Shower is about to hit its peak for 2017.

With cloud coverage expected to top 90 percent tonight, viewing opportunities for the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower - annually one of the brightest shows of shooting stars - could be practically nil across Pennsylvania.

The shower will hit its peak at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 12, meaning without the cloud cover, tonight and tomorrow night would offer the best shots at witnessing what in some years have been fantastic outbursts of 80-200 meteors per hour.

Saturday night may present a somewhat improved viewing opportunity. The weather forecast offers the chance of mostly clear skies with about 10 percent cloud coverage beginning around 9 p.m.

Of course, this year, even with perfectly clear skies, the Perseids will be a somewhat lesser event. The moon will be about three-quarters full and rising at midnight, which is typically prime time for shower-watching. That will make the Perseids a bit more difficult to see.

NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke expects visible rate in a clear sky to be cut by about half to 40-50 per hour as the bright moon washes out the fainter meteors.

In a brighter part of the Perseid forecast, the annual July-through-August meteor shower often incudes quite a few fireballs and this year should be no different.

The Perseids originate at a point near the constellation Perseus, but that is not essential for locating them. Simply retrace the paths of the first few you spot and you will find that point of origin.

The meteors are the trailing debris of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year from mid-July through late August, Earth crosses the orbital path of the comet, and the Perseids hit the upper atmosphere at about 130,000 miles per hour.

Although the peak is expected this weekend, the Perseid shower is already under way and will continue through August 24.

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