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Wild About PA



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



Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:50:03 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017
 



Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:00:48 UTC

2013-06-05T14:33:20Z

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.
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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 mschneck@pennlive.com.


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Are mountain lions on their way to Pennsylvania?

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-17T10:50:03Z

Cougar Network tracks mountain lion expansion from the western U.S. to the east As the latest hoaxed photo of a mountain lion supposedly killed in Pennsylvania died a slow death on Facebook yesterday, the head of an organization tracking the eastern movements of the big cats was preparing a presentation for a Pennsylvania audience tonight. Michelle LaRue, executive director of the Cougar Network and a research ecologist at the University of Minnesota, will discuss the eastern expansion of cougars from their core range in the western U.S. at 7 p.m. in Moravian College's Haupert Union Building, Bethlehem. The Cougar Network, working with state agencies, have documented multiple mountain lions as far east as Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan in recent years, as well as one cat killed on a highway in Milford, Connecticut, in June 2011. Those cats for which DNA evidence was recovered had come east from South Dakota, part of the known, modern-day, U.S. mountain lion range. They are generally believed to be young cats roaming in search of new breeding territories to claim as their own. Although there was no evidence that the 2011 mountain lion ever set foot in Pennsylvania, DNA evidence confirmed that it had been both west and east of the state. It was recorded in Minnesota and Wisconsin in late 2009 and early 2010, and then died in Connecticut in 2011. With the Great Lakes in its way, the cat moved either north or south of the water, and the latter route would have seen it pass through at least some of Pennsylvania. While there have been no confirmed occurrences of mountain lions in Pennsylvania since the late 1800s, dozens of sincere reports of sightings and tracks and even more hoaxed reports emerge across the state each year. Reports generally go uninvestigated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which discounts them as mistaken identities, illegal pets escaped or released and outright fabrications. Many of those claiming to have encountered a cougar in Pennsylvania take that non-confirmation by the commission as an attack on their veracity and character. They regularly join the camp of those angrily claiming the commission has introduced the big cats back into Pennsylvania as a control measure against the state's huge deer population. No evidence has ever been produced to support those charges. (PennLive has investigated many reports of mountain lions, and other mystery creatures, and has found no confirming evidence. However, if you've seen a mountain lion, or other mystery creature, or evidence of either, in Pennsylvania, contact outdoor writer Marcus Schneck at mschneck@pennlive.com.) Mountain lions were once widespread across North America, but their range shrunk dramatically as they were pursued through unregulated hunting and by farmers aiming to protect their livestock, and moved off the landscape by habitat fragmentation. According to the commission, the last Pennsylvania mountain lion was killed in the late 1800s. The northeastern U.S. population is thought to have disappeared in the 1930s. The last native mountain lion known to be killed in Pennsylvania is on display in the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.Marcus Schneck | mschneck@pennlive.com  The State Museum of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg, displays a taxidermy mount of a mountain lion in glass case, with the notation, "This lion, found near Hawk Mountain in Berks County around 1871, is the last native mountain lion known to have been shot in Pennsylvania." More about mountain lions in Pennsylvania: Mountain lion killed in Connecticut was on the opposite side of Pennsylvania a year ago Mountain lion at Lake Raystown, NOT Is it real? Penn State's Nittany Lion hide sampled for DNA sequencing Mountain lion reports in Pennsylvania popular, but often a hoax [...]


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Bits of Halley's Comet striking Earth's atmosphere

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:58:05 UTC

2017-10-16T15:13:06Z

Orionid meteor shower, some of brightest and fastest meteors of the year, will peak October 20-22

Some of the brightest meteors of the year are now streaking across the night sky, with a peak expected from Friday, October 20, through Sunday, October 22.

The Orionid meteor shower, which is already under way, is best viewed at about 2 a.m., after the first-quarter moon has set.

Known for some of the brightest and fastest meteors, the Orionids are particles from Halley's Comet, which cruises past Earth every 75 or so year. The comet's debris also gives us the Eta Quarid meteor shower in May.

The Orionids are named for the spot from which they appear to radiate, which is near the sword in the constellation Orion (The Hunter), low in the eastern night sky.

 However, the meteors span the sky, making their radiant point irrelevant to the casual viewer. Just place yourself under a dark sky, away from city lights, shortly before 2 a.m. and look skyward.

The shower will continue through Sunday, October 29.

The Orionid meteor shower can hit 80 meteors per hour at its peak, but usually runs at 20-30 per hour. The lower end of the scale is expected this year.

More about meteor showers:


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Fall foliage hits 'peak week' across Pennsylvania

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:10:10 UTC

2017-10-13T15:27:42Z

We have a new fall-foliage term this week from Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and author of the weekly Fall Foliage Report for Pennsylvania: "Peak Week." "Fall foliage enthusiasts, peak week is here," Reed noted in this week's report. "Spectacular colors abound throughout the state. One needs not travel far... We have a new fall-foliage term this week from Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and author of the weekly Fall Foliage Report for Pennsylvania: "Peak Week." "Fall foliage enthusiasts, peak week is here," Reed noted in this week's report. "Spectacular colors abound throughout the state. One needs not travel far to view awesome autumn displays, as major changes have occurred statewide. "The central part of the state is absolutely bursting with color, especially in Rothrock and Bald Eagle state forests. Poplar, hickory, stiped maple, sassafras, and black birch are painting commonwealth forests with colorful cheer. "Northeastern and northwestern regions are also at or nearing peak, with vibrant displays of northern hardwoods, oaks and hickories. "Areas not currently at peak will be soon, so the time for getting out and appreciating this wonderful yearly spectacle is now." Here's Reed's full report for this week: Northern Region (Mckean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford and Sullivan counties) Fall foliage in Tioga State Forest quickly "snapped" at the end of last week. After two small rainfalls, leaves are showing great fall colors. Colors have become more vibrant and many more trees have turned, making the region beautiful now. The Route 6 corridor reveals gorgeous views of north slopes of the mountains. The area around Colton Point State Park is looking great as well. The eastern part of the district around Arnot and Armenia is further along, and definitely a sight to behold. Of particular interest are staghorn sumac, sassafras, black walnut, and red maple. Loyalsock State Forest is very close to peak color as beech trees, some of the last to change in northern hardwood forests, have turned. Beautiful colors decorate the countryside from Kettle Creek Gorge to Macintyre Wild Area to the northwest. This weekend should be the best time to view foliage in Sullivan and northeast Lycoming counties. In Susquehannock State Forest, northern hardwoods in the northern two-thirds of Potter and McKean counties are past peak. However, beech and aspen are displaying some nice color. Oaks in the southern region of Potter County are just starting to show color and should peak in late October. Northeast Counties (Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike and Monroe counties) In Pinchot and Delaware state forests (Pocono region), northern areas are at peak color. The southern Pocono region will be at peak fall foliage next week, while the central region will be very close to peak display this week. The best time to see color in this area will be this weekend as maple, cherry, birch, sassafras and black gum have already changed. Aspens and oak trees have begun showing great color recently, displaying a wonderful array of pigmentation. Colors range from deep reds and oranges, with occasional yellows. Hickory trees have changed to deep yellow and bronze. Much of Luzerne County is still green with areas that are starting to show pockets of color. Starting next week, the leaves will start to change quite rapidly, and should peak around the fourth week of October.  A good drive to view foliage this week is Route 447 from Newfoundland to Cresco. Other recommended sites for observing fall foliage in Pinchot State Forest include Pine Hill Vista and Chock Creek Falls in the Thornhurst Tract, Rattlesnake Falls in Montage Tract, Tilbury Knob Vista in Avondale Tract and Mocanaqua Vista in Mocanaqua Tract. Northwest Counties (Erie, Crawford,[...]


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Fall foliage folklore: Forecasting winter through the trees of fall

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-12T10:40:19Z

What do the color and timing of fall leaves tell us about the coming winter? Watch video Since man first noticed a rhythm in the changing seasons and the weather that comes with each new season, we've looked for a reliable means to know the weather ahead of us. Today we have the National Weather Service and Accuweather. Before the coming of science-based weather forecasting, we attempted to see predictions and indicators in the natural world. Here are several bits of weather folklore focused on trees, leaves, nuts and more in the fall: The brighter the leaf colors in fall, the colder and snowier will be the winter. The earlier fall color peaks, the milder will be the winter. Leaves that drop early portend a mild winter. Leaves that cling to their trees later into autumn foreshadow a severe winter. When plants that usually bloom in spring have a second bloom in fall, expect a cold winter. Ground that is covered by acorns in the fall will be covered by snow throughout winter. Tree branches cracking and snapping in the fall forecast a coming period of dry weather. When a persimmon seed is cut open, the white marking inside reveals the following information about the coming winter:  If it's shaped like a knife, winter's winds will be biting and the season will be cold. It it's shaped like a fork, expect a relatively average winter. If it looks like spoon, expect to shovel plenty of snow. An unusually thick shell on a hickory nut promises an unusually cold winter. The common thread running through all those bits of folklore is the fact that each one tells us more about conditions leading into the fall - growing conditions and climate - than about conditions down the road. Nevertheless, folklore is fun to play around with, just to discover how true it will hold. Also, here are a couple common myths about fall color and a Native American legend: More myth than folklore: Anthocyanin, the molecule that gives leaves their red color, is produced only in late summer and fall. The facts: Leaf color is determined by relative amounts of chlorophyll (green), carotenoid (yellow) and anthocyanin (red). Although anthocyanin is at a high in the fall, it is present at other times of the year, which explains leaves that sprout red in the spring before turning green. More myth than folklore: Trees leaves turn red in the fall as a defense against insects or the sun. The facts: Lab-based research has not borne out that hypothesis. A Native American legend tells how trees like oaks and maples came to drop their leaves in fall while trees like pines hold onto their needles throughout the winter. According to the legend, a sparrow sought refuge in the leaves of an oak, but the oak turned it way. The sparrow then sought refuge in the leaves of a maple, but the maple also turned it away. Finally, the sparrow sought refuge in the needles of a pine and, although its needles were much less substantial than the leaves of the other trees, the pine granted refuge to the sparrow. When the creator learned of the trees' behavior, he caused the deciduous trees to drop their leaves but allowed the pine to keep its needles. More about fall foliage in Pennsylvania: What lurks in your pile of leaves? Best drives for fall foliage in Pennsylvania Where is Pennsylvania's best viewing for fall foliage? Fantastic fall foliage festivals across Pennsylvania Fall foliage arriving early this year in Pennsylvania Your video guide to the colors of fall foliage in Pennsylvania What can Pennsylvania expect in fall foliage this year? [...]


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Bear family surprises rock hounds, who capture the Pennsylvania encounter on video

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 13:00:00 UTC

2017-10-11T13:00:22Z

While stopped along a Pennsylvania roadway, a pair of rock hounds find their geologic study interrupted by a female black bear and her three cubs. Watch video

The American Geode team's search for great rocks on Saturday, October 7, was unexpectedly interrupted, when a mother black bear and her three cubs appeared out of the Forest on the opposite side of Route 15, near Cogan Station.

New York-based American Geode is a supplier of geodes, minerals, gems and fossils to collectors, academics, museums and interior design professionals. The American Geode website is www.americangeode.com.

Charles Snider of American Geode and a friend were stopped along Route 15 at about 7:30 a.m., when the mother bear, followed by two of the cubs, bounded onto the roadway, staring at the two humans and their vehicle for several seconds and sniffing the air for clues about what they had encountered.

When the third cub emerged at a trot from the forest, the mother bruin turned and jogged back into the forest, followed by her triplets.

Snider shot video throughout the encounter.

Based on their sizes, the bears appeared to be a relatively small, adult female and three half-grown cubs she birthed in her hibernation den last winter.

The cubs likely will overwinter with their mother before dispersing on their own next spring.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, female bears give birth to cubs during early January while in the winter den. Litter sizes range from one to five, with three most frequent in Pennsylvania.

Newborns are covered with fine dark hair, through which their pink skin shows. They are about 9 inches long and weigh 8 to 10 ounces. Their eyes and ears are closed.

Cubs nurse in the den. After about six weeks, their eyes open. In about two more weeks, they walk.

They leave the den when 3 months old, are weaned by 7 months, and by fall usually weigh 60 to 100 pounds. Bears traveling in groups in autumn are usually females and their cubs.

Mothers and year-old cubs den together again the winter after their birth.

The family group disbands the following spring, when the female is ready to breed again. Consequently, a female generally raises only one litter every two years.

The male cubs, then 16 months old and called yearlings, disperse while female yearlings establish home ranges nearby.

More about bears in Pennsylvania:


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What's 640 million years old and found in Harrisburg? Hint: It's in the State Museum

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-10T10:12:30Z

The archives of the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg are packed with fossils from the earliest fishes to giant mammoths.




Best fall foliage vistas in Pennsylvania

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-09T09:03:21Z

Pennsylvania's ridge-and-valley landscape is rich in elevated places offering long, commanding views of the often-brilliant fall foliage. We call them vistas and overlooks, and here are some of the best.




When will fall foliage peak in central Pennsylvania?

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 14:24:00 UTC

2017-10-06T14:24:20Z

Fall foliage will peak from mid-October through the month's end in central Pennsylvania, starting around October 14th in the more northern parts of our region, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Watch video Fall foliage will peak from mid-October through the month's end in central Pennsylvania, starting around October 14th in the more northern parts of our region, according to the state's expert from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Here's the state map:  Pennsylvania weekly fall foliage report (Bureau of Forestry)(Bureau of Forestry)  "Fall foliage season is ramping up and we are on the precipice of the greatest part of the season," noted Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist in the DCNR, and the author of Pennsylvania's weekly Fall Foliage Report. In his report for this week, Reed also notes that central and southern forests are progressing nicely. Maples in these regions are clinging to a much higher percentage of their leaves as compared to northern districts. "This bodes well for an excellent peak foliage season in these areas," he wrote. Southern Region (area south and east of a line through southern Monroe, Dauphin, Bedford and southeastern Somerset counties -- includes Cumberland, Perry and Dauphin) In Buchanon State Forest, black gums have peaked and some maples, dogwoods and birches are starting to turn. With the return of cooler evenings, you can see a color shift in the overall forest from the typical bright, summer-green to a yellow-green. Better viewing conditions are expected next week. Route 30 offers a good valley view up to the state forest and Tower Road and Bark Road vistas are offering pleasant views into the valleys. Michaux State Forest is starting to show signs of change. Vine species like poison ivy have turned crimson in some areas. Birches and hickories along the forest edges have begun to yellow, as well as spicebushes in the understory. A few rogue red maples are also showing some impressive color. A beautiful drive through Michaux State Forest heads southeast from Cleversburg on Shippensburg Road and turning right on Birch Run Road, concluding at Long Pine Run Reservoir. Southeastern Counties (Adams, York, Lancaster, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties) Changes to foliage in William Penn State Forest are subtle so far. Some vine species (poison ivy, bittersweet, Virginia creeper) are adding glimpses of red and yellow to the landscape. A few spicebushes are noticeably yellowing in the forest understory, while random red maples are beginning to change too. A hike on the Rose Trail at Goat Hill Wild Plant Sanctuary in Chester County reveals some splendid fall color in the form of asters and goldenrod. Foliage in both areas should peak in approximately 2 weeks. More about fall foliage in Pennsylvania: What lurks in your pile of leaves? Best drives for fall foliage in Pennsylvania Where is Pennsylvania's best viewing for fall foliage? Fantastic fall foliage festivals across Pennsylvania Fall foliage arriving early this year in Pennsylvania Your video guide to the colors of fall foliage in Pennsylvania What can Pennsylvania expect in fall foliage this year? For more Wild about Pennsylvania news:  [...]


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Fall foliage peak has arrived in spots across northern Pennsylvania

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 12:45:00 UTC

2017-10-06T12:45:24Z

Fall colors should take over spots farther south in the next couple weeks. Fall color is slowly drawing closer to peak across Pennsylvania and has already hit peak for the season in stands of red maple, cherry and birch in the state's northern tier. "Fall foliage season is ramping up and we are on the precipice of the greatest part of the season," noted Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the author of Pennsylvania's weekly Fall Foliage Report. In his report for this week, Reed also notes that central and southern forests are progressing nicely. Maples in these regions are clinging to a much higher percentage of their leaves as compared to northern districts. "This bodes well for an excellent peak foliage season in these areas," he wrote. "The current, above-average temperatures across the state continue to slow the color transition, except in the northeast, where foresters are observing peak foliage in many areas. Cooler temperatures in the forecast next week, with lows in 40s at night across much of the state, should push the majority of Pennsylvania forest regions to approach or achieve peak foliage." Here's his detailed region-by-region report: Northern Region (McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford and Sullivan counties): In Susquehannock State Forest, sugar maples are past peak but red maples are at full color. Aspen and beech are starting to change so they should pick up in advance of the oak over next week or two. Expect oaks to peak around late October. Sugar maples in Tioga State Forest have lost their leaves. However, oaks and other species (hickory and basswood) later to change are still very green with a hint of color. They may be the best color seen this year. Loyalsock State Forest has seen the same fate for its sugar maples. Although it started early, the color change in Loyalsock State Forest has been slow this year due to the recent hot weather. With cooler temperatures ahead, it is expected to speed up. Beech is just starting to turn now, adding color to the yellows of ash and red-orange of red maples. The view at Sone's Pond is great right now. Northeast counties (Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike and Monroe counties): In Pinchot State Forest, fall foliage season is in varying states of progress. Over this coming weekend and next week, foliage will be at its peak in the eastern Endless Mountain region. Past weeks of unseasonably warm weather have prolonged the green colors of many species in this area, but with the cool, damp weather ahead a quick change is expected. The most notable changes will be in blueberry turning vibrant red, and hickories changing bright yellow. In Lackawanna, southern Wayne and northern Pike counties, peak foliage is expected around Columbus Day. Many trees are ripe with color, including black cherry, aspen, and birch with varying degrees of yellow; and red maple, bright red. Most of the oaks will start to change nearer to Columbus Day. Much of Luzerne County is still green. Very nice colors are expected here around Columbus Day. Many of the maples are starting to change, with red maples turning bright red and sugar maple, a pale yellow. In Delaware State Forest, red maple, sugar maple, birch, cherry, beech, sycamore, walnut, sassafras and black gum are showing significant changes. The central region of the Pocono mountains will be presenting great fall foliage colors in the next couple weeks. Major changes are occurring in the northern hardwoods from Blakeslee in northern Monroe county to Promised Land in western Pike County. These trees will be near their peak colors next week. Oak-hickory forest communities will be near or at their peak the following week. Red ma[...]


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What lurks in your pile of leaves? (And, can you find the snake?)

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-05T09:04:53Z

Leaves raked into piles become entire ecosystems unto themselves, with critters ranging from molds and fungi to beetles and toads moving into the new habitat.




How good of a show will Draconid meteor shower deliver?

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-04T09:06:44Z

Draconid meteor shower will hit its peak in the evening on October 7 and 8.

The Draconid meteor shower, which will hit its peak Saturday and Sunday, October 7-8, is not one of the most active annual showers. It compensates in part for that by coming early in the evening rather than after midnight, unlike many of the showier showers.

Look for the Draconids at nightfall, before the waning moon rises, which will be soon after sunset on October 7 and 8.

The shower isn't expected to be spectacular this week, probably a handful of meteors per hour.

However, the Draconids can unexpectedly become real storm. In 2011, for example, the shower produced more than 600 meteors per hour.

The Draconids appear to emanate from the mouth of the constellation Draco the dragon in the northern night sky. However, they will move across the entire sky, so pinpointing their origin point is not necessary for meteor-watching.

They are named for the constellation, but they also are known as the Giacobinids for Michael  Giacobini, who first sighted the comet that spawned the meteor shower, 21P Giacobini-Zinner. 


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When is the harvest moon? And how spectacular will it be?

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-10-03T09:04:23Z

Based on proximity to the autumnal equinox, the harvest moon can be a full moon in either September or October. For 2017, the harvest moon rises in October.

The harvest moon - the full moon closet to the autumn equinox, which occurred on September 22 this year - will rise on Thursday, October 5. Technically the full moon will occur at 2:40 p.m., but it will appear full on the nights of October 4 and 5.

Despite internet chatter, this year's harvest moon will not be a giant moon nor a supermoon. The moon's perigee - the point in the orbit of the moon nearest to the earth - won't come until October 9, well after the fullness of the moon has passed.

Expectations for a spectacular moon at this time of year can run high simply because of the mystique of the harvest moon, which leads some people to look for the moon soon after sunset and to spot the moon just as it's rising above the horizon. That timing can make the moon appear bigger than observers may have expected, in a phenomenon known as moon illusion.

However, that same timing can give the harvest moon a particularly reddish-orange cast. Viewing the full moon closer to the horizon means viewing it through more of the earth's atmosphere, which allows more red-spectrum light to reach the eyes.

The name of harvest moon arose from farmers, who benefitted from the relatively early rising of the moon around the autumnal equinox and the additional time available for bringing in their crops.

Native Americans knew the same full moon as the Hunter's Moon, Travel Moon and Dying Moon.

More about the names of full moons around the year.


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Best drives for fall foliage in Pennsylvania

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 17:49:00 UTC

2017-10-04T16:30:44Z

Backroads throughout Pennsylvania offer some of best drives for brilliant fall colors anywhere. With expectations rising that fall foliage in Pennsylvania this fall could be a bit spotty, a road trip may be the best way to take in the colors that the woodlands of the state manage to put up in the next few weeks. Here are some of the most promising fall foliage drives in Pennsylvania. Rt. 322 from Duncannon to Clearfield is a drive through the developing fall colors. The northwesterly route cuts across several mountain ranges that space the autumn season, displaying increasing fall foliage to the north of each high place. The route is rich is overlooks, and one of the most amazing is at Lewistown's Laurel Creek Reservoir, as Rt. 322 begins its climb over the Seven Mountains a few miles north of Milroy. A route of Rt. 15 from Camp Hill to Lewisburg, then Rt. 477 to Williamsport, and finally Rt. 120 to Renovo similarly climbs and descends several mountains, but it also spends much of its course snuggling its way along rivers.  On the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River, Rt. 147 also follows the river north from near Duncannon to Montandon, where Rt. 405 continues the northbound drive to Rt. 220 and then to Rt. 154 to World's End State Park, with its Loyalsock Canyon Vista. Rt. 23, west from Morgantown in Berks County to Lancaster, combines hillside forests with vast agricultural areas, including many Amish farms and their traditional corn shocks and pumpkin fields. For brilliant fall color with farm country and picturesque villages, begin at the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on the Lebanon-Lancaster county line at Kleinfeltersville. Take Kleinfeltersville Road north to the village, then Route 897 west to Schaefferstown and Route 419 west to Cornwall. Finish by taking Route 117 west to Colebrook and then Route 241 west to Bainbridge. I-81 from Harrisburg north to the New York state line at Great Bend is another drive into the face of fall, albeit a high-speed run with only sporadic opportunities to pull off and really drink in the autumn color. Several of the rest stops are positioned with prime long-distance viewscapes, and the views out over the Wyoming Valley in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre metro area can be spectacular. The Delaware River and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are the centerpieces for a drive along Rt. 209 from Millersburg through Pottsville, Jim Thorpe and East Stroudsburg to Milford. Jim Thorpe hosts Fall Foliage Weekends throughout October, with food, arts and crafts vendors, free music events at four venues throughout the downtown, and seasonal specials from restaurants and shops.  Among the most interesting perspectives on fall foliage is the drive from the southerly view out over the Cumberland Valley from atop the Blue Mountain just north of Colonel Denning State Park south along Rt. 233, west on Pine Road and south on Kings Gap Road to the mansion-balcony overlook at Kings Gap State Park and its northerly view of the same landscape. Most parts of Rt. 6, which traverses the entire width of Pennsylvania from Milford west to Union City, show up on various lists of best fall foliage drives. The Bucktail State Park Natural Area has been established to protect much of the viewscape along Rt. 120 between Lock Haven and Renovo. The concept really proves itself when fall colors take hold in the dense forests of the region. Marquette Lake at Fort Indiantown Gap in northern Lebanon County was another popular photography spot for entries in the contest. Like Colonel Denning and King's Gap, the mirror-like, mountainside lake ca[...]


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Albatwitch - like Bigfoot only smaller - celebrated in Lancaster County

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 09:00:00 UTC

2017-09-30T09:05:07Z

Columbia, Lancaster County, prepares for its annual Albatwitch Day, a celebration of the mini-Bigfoot, apples, the paranormal and more. The apple-loving mini-Bigfoot known as the albatwitch will be celebrated with the annual Albatwitch Day Saturday, October 14, in Columbia, Lancaster County. The creature, which seems more myth than mystery, has had its own annual celebration since 2014, complete with a legend. According to Rick Fisher and Christopher Vera, organizers of the first Albatwitch Day, sightings of the albatwitch - reportedly a very slender, 4- to 5-foot-tall, ape-like creature covered in reddish-brown hair - date back 400 or 500 years to the Susquehannock Indians, who inhabited the area around Chickies Rock, near Columbia on the eastern shore of the Susquehanna. While local lore attributes the name to the Susquehannocks, the creature's association with apples appears to be of more recent, more European vintage. Fisher said the albatwitch gained that reputation in the late 1800s, when Chickies Rock was a popular picnic spot complete with a trolley that ran there from Columbia. Albatwitches would come out of the trees and steal apples from the picnickers, tossing the cores back at the people. Sponsored by the Columbia Creative Factory and the Columbia Historic Preservation Society, the day will run from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and will feature an apple pie contest, zombie beauty contest, dungeon tours, trolley rides, programs by paranormal investigators and live music. Performing music during the day will be Doomwatch 13, Kill the Dead and Stone Breath. Paranormal programs will be presented by Ed Kelemen, co-author with M.A. Mogus of "Weird West Overton" and "The Haunted Foothills" about hauntings in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands; "Crypto Kid" Colin Schneider, 16-year-old host of the Crypto-Kid radio show; Ron Murphy, western Pennsylvania cryptozoologist, folklorist and paranormal investigator; and Tim Renner, author of "Bigfoot in Pennsylvania." For more information, call 717-572-7149. More about the albatwitch and other mysterious creatures of Pennsylvania: Bigfoot, mountain lion, chupacabra and more reported by readers Is Bigfoot in Pennsylvania? Sightings reported for more than 150 years Pennsylvania's squonk is 'the homeliest animal in the world' Dogman and werewolf sightings in Pennsylvania go back centuries Pterodactyls, gargoyles and thunderbirds reported in Pa. Giant snakes reported in Adams County and nearby Giant white wolf reports in Pa. explained Meet Pennsylvania's Loch Ness Monster, the Raystown Ray Chupacabra sightings in Pennsylvania? There have been reports, believe it or not Mountain lion reports in Pennsylvania popular, but often a hoax UFO sightings in Pennsylvania abound Have you seen something strange or out-of-the-ordinary? Share your report with Marcus Schneck at mschneck@pennlive.com. [...]


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Fall foliage in Pennsylvania may be impacted by ongoing hot, dry weather

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 12:00:00 UTC

2017-09-29T12:09:46Z

Unseasonably hot, dry weather throughout much of September may have doomed hopes for a particularly vibrant fall-foliage period this fall in much of Pennsylvania. Unseasonably hot, dry weather throughout much of September may have doomed hopes for a particularly vibrant fall-foliage period this fall in much of Pennsylvania. "Several factors lead me to believe that what looked to be an excellent fall foliage year has been mitigated by this latest hot, dry weather pattern, coupled with outbreaks of maple anthracnose in a fair number of areas," noted Ryan Reed, the environmental education specialist in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who compiles the weekly fall foliage report for the state. "Despite this, there will be good fall foliage viewing throughout the state in forthcoming weeks.  One may have to simply travel further between areas of brilliant color." For now, he said, fall foliage season continues in its preliminary stages statewide. Some northern-tier forest districts are showing more than 50 percent color in stands of northern hardwoods like maple, cherry and birch. Central and southern forests are showing strong indicators of future color, with bittersweet, Virginia creeper, dogwood, walnut, hickory, birch and a few maples sprinkling color over the landscape. The recent warm spell seems to have slowed the color transition, and even forced early leaf-drop in some areas. Cooler temperatures in the forecast next week should set the stage for peak foliage in a few areas, especially to the north and northeast. Northern Region (northern Wayne County and all of Susquehanna, Bradford, Tioga, Potter and McKean counties): In the Endless Mountains region of Loyalsock State Forest, color is at 35 percent. The World's End area, Loyalsock Road, and the Haystack Trail area north of Laporte are offering good views of the changing red and sugar maples, ash and cherry. To the west in Susquehannock State Forest, many sugar maples are already past peak. Currently red maple is the species showing best color. There are still areas of red maple, ash, cherry and basswood that are beautiful. The best colors can be seen in the northern half of Potter County from Routes 6, 44, 449 and 872. In McKean County, Routes 6, 59, 321 and 219 should provide good viewing. Once the beech and aspen turn more, the color should start to improve leading up to the oak peak. Fall foliage in Tioga State Forest is showing signs of a lackluster season. Dry and hot weather has caused many of the northern hardwood species' leaves to dry up and fall off or just turn dull yellows to browns. Red maples are still changing and colors are typically a dull red. Oak and beech have yet to start their fall changes. Tioga State Forest is still a wonderful place to view fall foliage, especially in the eastern part of the forest, like at Lambs Lookout or the Arnot tract. Pinchot State Forest district foresters predict a longer foliage season occurring in two phases, and a different mix of colors than in years past. They attribute this year's differences to the wet summer and low temperatures during August and early September. The central region of the Pocono Mountains is beginning to show some good fall foliage colors. Susquehanna county in the northern tier is about 50 percent peak. Areas populated by northern hardwoods should be getting close to peak this coming week. Oak and hickory forest types still have a couple weeks until they hit their peak. Significant changes are occurring in the wetlands, where red maple is showing different shades of red and some [...]


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