Category Archives: Uncategorized

Last updated by at .

How to Enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower

You might see a lot or you might not see many, but if you stay in the house, you won’t see any. — EarthSky Magazine

The annual Perseid meteor shower is coming our way. Anyone who lives in the Northern Hemisphere may be in for a good old-fashioned sky show, just by looking up. This year’s show is expected to be especially good as it coincides with a new moon, resulting in a darker sky in which to see the stars.

The Perseids are debris from a wandering comet that appears as shooting stars each August. (Records of this light show go back to 36 A.D., though the Swift-Tuttle Comet was discovered much later.) They often provide one of the best shows of the year, if the skies are clear and the moon is not full.

The Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to be best on Tuesday, August 11 through Thursday, August 13, with a peak late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Sometimes meteors can be seen up to a week before and after a shower’s peak. Astronomers are predicting as many as 70 meteors an hour for those who are able to see the Perseids. (That said, we always see fewer meteors than these predicted numbers, so don’t be disappointed. One fantastic shooting star blazing through the sky can produce lifelong memories and awe.)

You won’t need any special equipment to see the Perseids. The naked eye is actually best. Just be sure to give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark. And hope for a good show! Here are more tips for viewing the Perseids.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers more information about the Perseids, along with some good viewing tips and a sky map.

If you like, you can even be a citizen scientist and help NASA count meteors! Download a free app for iphones and androids and join the meteor count. (Here are more citizen science projects you might be interested in.)

Some of my family’s most relaxed and memorable moments have occurred while gazing at the stars together. You can’t help but be infused with a sense of wonder, history and mystery while contemplating the cosmos. It’s natural to share those feelings with those around us, as we use the stars to try to look back through distance and time.

My family remembers one especially wonderful August, when we went to the top of our nearest mountain to see the Perseid meteor shower. Lying in the grass in the dark, we could hear choruses of “oohs” and “aahs” coming from all around the mountain,

A Neighborhood Walk Turns into a Hike to the Muir Woods, Thanks to New Book

We didn’t initially intend to hike five miles from our house to Muir Woods National Monument and back, but the first day of spring arrived quite beautifully and, inspired by the new book, We Love Nature! A Keepsake Journal for Families Who Love to Explore the Outdoors, by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer (illustrated by Denise Holmes), my daughter and I set off on a pretty and hilly local trail. We loved the idea of welcoming the season with a hike, as well as the notion of leaving right from our house and walking to the trail head. We thought we’d walk one way, and had arranged for a pick-up at the end of the walk.

Keffer and Tornio are the authors of  The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book, reviewed here last year, and their new book, which delightfully arrived in time for spring, expands nicely on their theme of providing easy ideas that families and others can use to create their own nature adventures. The book serves as a journal, as well, with questions that prompt readers to think, write and draw about their nature time.

Our first-choice activity from the book? “Hike on a trail near your home and write about what you discover.” We added some photos as well.

Anna and me, setting off on our adventure.

Pride of Madeira plants were sighted while climbing our first hill out of our neighborhood.

A kind and creative homeowner shows the way to the Dipsea Trail, a trail that winds seven miles from a canyon in our town of Mill Valley, CA, to the sea at Stinson Beach. We will take the Dipsea partway.

We entered Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Anna is at the precipice, eyeing the trail below.

We descended into canyons of ferns, redwoods and bay trees.

We spotted a spectacular Douglas Iris.

And a Beach Morning Glory.

We made it to the Muir Woods, about 2.5 miles from the start, feeling pretty accomplished.

Muir Woods has lovely creeks running through it that are home to spawning salmon.

Muir Woods is also home to thousands of old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest living things in the world. This redwood fell on Winter Solstice, 2012. A sign nearby told us that it was an elder that had had a good life and deserved respect.

Tired, but also reenergized from being in the beautiful woods, we traced our steps back toward home.

The hikers, five hours and a great adventure later.

Prompted by the book, and this hike, we immediately planned our next one! A few days later, we took the Dipsea Trail in the opposite direction than we had the first time and went into our town for a shorter (but stair-filled) loop walk. Later, we plan to keep going on the Dipsea Trail, past the Muir Woods to the ocean (and take someone up on that ride home).

Some other adventures we are eager to try from We Love Nature! A Keepsake Journal for Families Who Love to Explore the Outdoors this spring and summer include:

Design your yard and garden to be butterfly friendly.

Experiment with starting seeds.

Reuse an object as a garden container.

Find inspiration from nature, and then create a piece of art.

Swim with your family or friends at a local lake, river or pond.

Discover the night sky through stargazing.

Can’t wait!

Would you like to win your own copy of We Love Nature! A Keepsake Journal for Families Who Love to Explore the Outdoors and a pair of KEEN shoes? Enter the Destination Nature giveaway today.

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Join Project Feeder Watch and Other Fun Citizen Science Activities
How to Save Nasturtium and Other Seeds
Have a Cloud Race
Keep a Moon Diary
Nature Activities to Celebrate Spring

Go Green for Earth Day with Method Detergent

My family and I have been huge fans of Method home products for a long time. We particularly enjoy the bottles of glistening hand and dish wash, in pretty colors and scents, that grace our kitchen sink. We appreciate that Method has also started to make bottles  from recycled ocean plastic.

So, of course I was excited to learn that Method is now making laundry detergent and products in its signature and other scents and that I was being asked to give them a try.

I chose a 50-load bottle of Fresh Air scented detergent. I greatly appreciated the pump bottle and its ease of transport and use. I learned that Method laundry detergent is plant-based, yet ultra-concentrated. That means less production, product and packaging waste. (Because Method detergent is 8x concentrated, it uses drastically less water and 36% less plastic, and requires 33% less energy and oil to produce than most widely-available detergents. Its bottle, too, is made from 50% recycled plastic, which made our family very happy.

My local market offered Method detergent in two scents, “Free and Clear” and “Fresh Air”. While I normally lean toward unscented or lightly scented products for home use, I did want to try one of Method’s signature scents (and they’d never steered me wrong with their dish soap.) I opted for a bottle of “Fresh Air” detergent and immediately brought it home and put it to use. I loved the scent. I found it to be very clean without being cloying. It offered a subtle, lovely, “clean laundry” smell that I somewhat associate with detergents I’ve liked in the past, though Method’s is far subtler. For someone like me who doesn’t like laundry detergents in obvious scents, this is great. I’m eager to try their other scents, too, lavender cedar, sweet pea and spring daisy.

I washed multiple loads of laundry. white and colored,  for a trip, and everything turned out great. I decided to try Method as a stain remover on a stubborn stain that had occurred earlier in the week when the red yarn on a favorite sweater ran into the white during hand-washing. Even though this was a stain that had set in over time, Method worked phenomenally, after other stain removers had not. Method allowed enough improvement (with a pleasant smell!) so that I can actually wear the sweater.

This was a bleed stain that had set in! Method is tough on stains, but easy on the planet. Now you can enter to win a year’s supply of Method laundry detergent and products. I did!

Happy Earth Day!

Other Slow Family posts you might like include:

What Our Kids Can Teach Us About Recycling
Live a Slower, Less Expensive and More Meaningful Life: A Teen’s 10 Tips for Recycling and Reuse
Back to School: Green Sandwich and Snack Bags
Earth Day and Every Day: 11 Ways to Make Gardening Extra Fun for Kids

This post is sponsored by Method. The views expressed are my own.

Happy Fat Tuesday! Mardi Gras Mask and other Cookies

Happy Fat Tuesday! I love these beautiful Mardi Gras mask cookies from Sweetopia.

Wondering how to make pretty iced cookies of all kinds? Check out this cookie decorating tutorial from I Am Baker.

 

Shine on, Harvest Moon

Songwriters have crooned about it. Farmers have counted on it. A Chinese festival honors it with special mooncakes. It’s the Harvest Moon, which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In addition to being timed well for the job, the October full moon travels particularly close to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, so that it appears larger and closer than do other full moons throughout the year. It’s also visible for a longer amount of time than other moons — often all night — so that, especially before electricity, the harvesting needn’t stop at nightfall. And, if that weren’t enough, it also brightens the night sky for many successive days in a row.

All this week, those in northern latitudes have been and will be able to go outside on clear nights and witness the Harvest Moon. It’s due to be at its absolute fullest at September 30 at 3:19 Universal Time, or  11:19 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 8:19 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on September 29 in the U.S., so you’ll get good full moon shows all weekend, and fine shows throughout the week, whether you’re harvesting food, memories, or one of the last possibly warm full-moon nights.

Gaisberg_and_rising_full_moon

 

Photos: Roadcrusher, Matthias Kobel

You might also enjoy:

The Wheel of the Year: Summer Turns to Fall
Walt Whitman’s Ode to the Harvest
Fall Foliage at its Peak
Celebrate May’s Full Moon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...