Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

Perseid Meteor Showers Viewing Party, August 12th - All-Ages Open Invite From Davis Astronomy Club

It's a lovely way to spend an evening...
Meteor Shower
(a flickr photo by Kate Williams)

"If you are interested in watching "fireworks" in the night sky, get ready for the Perseid Meteor Showers. The Astronomy Club will be hosting an all-ages viewing party.

Everyone is invited to the Thursday, August 12th meeting of the Davis Astronomy Club at Fairfield Elementary (26960 County Road 96) starting at 8:00 p.m. You do not have to pay any dues to be a member of the Davis Astronomy Club. If you are interested in the astronomy, you are welcome to attend.

Meteors are often mislabeled as shooting or falling stars. Astronomically speaking, meteors are the luminous streaks in the sky caused by debris particles. When the particles are in space, they are called "meteoroids;" and if any parts survive in Earth's atmosphere and land on the ground, they are known as "meteorites."

As meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere from interplanetary space at high speeds, they are vaporized because of friction with air molecules. The light caused by these glowing vapors moves through the sky like a fast moving star forming visible trails and streaks.

The Perseid meteor showers are popular to watch because they occur in August (when the nights are relatively warm) and there are lots of meteors per hour (average 60/hr). Some of them even streak across the sky in long and colorful trails. This year's celestial show peaks on August 12 and 13 with the chance of seeing 50 to 100 meteors per hour.

Meteor showers occur when the revolving Earth passes through a stream of debris left in the wake of a comet during its perihelion (closest approach to the sun). Some of the comet's gases vaporize carrying dust and tiny fragments, and these particles continue to orbit around the sun in the same orbit as the parent comet. When Earth goes through the point in space where the orbits intersect, it results in meteor showers. Perseid meteor showers are attributed to Comet 109P/Swift-Turtle (period 130 years).

There are eight major meteor showers that occur during the course of the year. Even though meteors have real parallel motions and are visible anywhere in the sky, their apparent direction of motion is away from a specific area in the sky called "the radiant." They are hence named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate. Perseid meteor showers radiate from Perseus Constellation.

The best times to see meteor showers are between midnight and sunrise closest to their peaks. More meteors will be visible after midnight because the radiant will be higher in the sky. There will be some meteor activity a few days before and after the most favorable night. Likewise there will meteors visible between sunset and midnight.

Adding to the show will be viewings of Venus (setting at 9:54 p.m.), Saturn (setting at 9:59 p.m.), Mars (setting at 10:06 p.m.) and Jupiter (rising at 9:51 p.m.). There will also be a triple conjunction between Venus, Saturn, Mars and the moon on the following night, August 13.

The Perseids should be spectacular this year, as there are ideal viewing conditions with the thin crescent moon setting around 9:30p.m.

Moon phases: Last Quarter: Aug.3, New Moon: Aug. 10, First Quarter: Aug. 16, Full Moon: Aug. 24.

To watch the meteor showers, all you need is a reclining chair or blanket to lie on and a jacket to keep you warm. Point your toes eastward and look halfway up the sky. Make sure you have an unobstructed view of the sky and look in all directions. Also bring insect repellent and a red-filtered light or a flashlight with a paper bag. Happy viewing!"

(Note: this comes to you word for word, from the Davis Astronomy Club. Sounds like a great time! When my daughter, Liesel, was young, we went with friends to enjoy a Star-B-Que camping trip. We had such fun it took awhile before we realized the evening was totally clouded over and there would be no stars! Jeannie)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let's Get Seedy!

Here's a project from 2 years ago that I always loved ... slip on a pair of socks, choose your habitat and go for a walk ... see what seeds germinate!
PBS Kids Seeded Socks

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Going Batty in Old Sac with Real Live Bats!

Trail Mix in Old Sacramento is hosting a workshop on Saturday, June 26th from 1 to 3.
flickr photo by dmotts9
Find out more on Facebook, TrailMix Bats.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let's Go See Jingga!

Sacramento has a new baby tiger ... let's go to the zoo!

For more info about the Sacramento Zoo, Jingga, Overnight Family Sleepovers and more, visit their website at
For the full story, tune in to the Sac Bee's story on Jingga's first day out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Native American Three Sisters Garden

Here's a project that will appeal to kids (or the kid in you): a Three Sisters Garden!

I've read about this for some time, but this year I've got myself a packet of these seeds and this weekend I'm going to plant my own Three Sisters Garden. From the seed pack,
According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans and squash/pumpkins are inseparable sisters, precious gifts from the Great Spirit. The tradition of interplanting them in the same mounds is actually a sophisticated, sustainable system providing long-term soil fertility and healthy harvests.
Earth-Tones Indian Dent Corn provides natural poles for bean vines to climb and the beautiful dried ears make tasty cornmeal and/or decorations.
Rattlesnake Bean Vines support the corn stalks and fix nitrogen on their roots to improve soil fertility. Blossoms attract pollinators and high-protein dried beans are great for chili.
Shallow-rooted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Vines make a living mulch, shading out weeds and preventing moisture loss. Use Sugar Pie Pumpkins for tasty pies and holiday celebrations.
All three of these seeds can be planted now. Renee's Garden has put together the seeds in a special pack, but you don't have to use her seeds. You will want to take advantage of the detailed instructions on her website, however, and browse around a bit ... there are some great annual seeds that will also grow if planted now ... just sayin...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

What do you think the top gift for Mother's Day would be? Close your eyes...guess...what's that? A day at a gorgeous spa being pampered beyond your wildest dreams? Check out Sacramento's finest spa, the Arden Hills Resort Club Spa.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Kid Fun at the California State Flower & Garden Show

kid eating cornflakes
flickr photo by noam.armonn

The upcoming show has lots of daily activities for kids (12 and under get in to the show for free!). Learn about bats, make flower arrangements, get wiggly with worms, plus on Saturday, a special cooking school. Check out this Kid's Cooking Convention.

The show runs from April 8 - 11th at Cal Expo. To find out more about the vendors, the speakers, visit the California Flower & Garden website, or the Facebook Fan Page, or both!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fairytale Town Goes Green! - March 13th

Green Fun at Sacramento's William Land Park

Mr. McGregor's Garden
Enjoy a day filled with educational displays focusing on the environment, displays will vary in areas such as responsible conservation, pollution and tips on how to go green. Visit with several Sacramento area organizations and learn about different ways you can go green and help create a healthy environment. Puppet Art Theater will be performing The Three Little Pigs with a green twist in the Children's Theater. Puppet show tickets are $1 for members $2 for nonmembers, showtimes are 12:30PM, 1:30PM and 2:30PM.

shhh...the Spanish Bluebells are just waking up...
And, says Geno's Garden, for a lovely gardening surprise, take a stroll thru the WPA Rock Garden across the street from Fairytale Town on 15th. Parents sometimes wonder how to get their kids interested in gardening. One answer is help them have fun gardening times, these will become treasured memories. Another answer is discover things together, you'll love it as much as they do. The paths at the WPA garden are delightful for kids...they can almost get lost. Exciting!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sacramento's Trailmix.Net, a Family Store for Outdoor Adventure

Outdoor Fun for the Whole Family!

Trailmix's free e-book

I think whatever we can do to get kids outside is really valuable. It breaks that perma-link with video games and connects them up with the world we live in. Trailmix.Net seems like a perfect resource...the owners are avid hikers, they've practiced what they preach with their own brood. Plus, what better lure for tech-age kids than activities like GPS-guided Geocaching?

Here's a great video about this new store in Old Sacramento (brought to you by Maria Marriott, Mortgage Advisor in Roseville, CA),  Scavenger Hunting and Geocaching in Sacramento.

You and your kids can get to know them first-hand at next Saturday's free flower seed planting workshop. March 6th at 1 o'clock, flowers and materials donated by Green Acres Nursery.
some newly germinated seeds ready to start their journey
Extend the fun with an Old Sac Scavenger Hunt. Pick up the free map at the store.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Easy Hummingbird Garden

Seedpack Wildlife Garden

Hummingbird Garden Seeds

I don't think it gets easier than this...a seedpack wildlife garden! This pack of Botanical Interests seeds will plant 14 square feet, that's about a 3 1/2 feet square, a 7 x 2 rectangle or, my favorite, a 4.5' diameter circle.
Plop a birdbath in the center for charm and convenience should your hummingbird want to take a bit of a bath!
Here's how to do it:
  • Choose a sunny spot.
  • Stake out and clear the area of weeds, rocks, etc.
  • Add some composty top soil (a 2 cu ft bag should do it).
  • Turn the compost in with a shovel or hoe, and rake it nice.
  • Broadcast your seeds (the seed packet will give exact instructions as to depth, etc).
  • Add a birdbath (the water should be shallow, no more than 1 1/2 inches deep. Add some rocks if necessary so they can have a little something to stand on. Some sort of perch would be appreciated as well. Maybe a branch nearby?
a birdbath from my garden

Although Botanical Seeds are sold in many nurseries, I didn't find these specialty seeds locally. If you want to order from them directly, here's the link: Hummingbird Haven seeds!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Family Fun at the Los Angeles Arboretum

If I were in L.A. on February 27th, I'd be at the family event, Hey Kids Get Lost at the L.A. Arboretum...

somthing marvelous at the L.A. Arboretum
... or maybe I'd just be looking at these gorgeous structures!