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We take pride in our sky and its legacy to our land, farming, wildlife, and creative roots. The rural nature of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway, beyond the reached of city light, provides for excellent night sky viewing.
With our wide open skies and low horizons, the moon beckons as it rises in the night sky. The rural nature of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway is a perfect place for night sky viewing. Out here you will see for yourself that the stars and the moon appear brighter and closer. And, if by chance you turn off your cars engine and sit for a moment, you might be lucky enough to hear a coyote's yell or the sound of restless geese and sandhill cranes murmuring in the marshy wetlands.
Phases of the MoonAt different times of the month, the appearance of the moon's shape changes. We know the sun illuminates half of the moon, but on Earth, we see the moon at different angles as it orbits. The principle phases of the moon are the new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter moon. This refers to the shape of the lighted part of the moon that we can see. According to some, the cycle of the moon can affect the way we feel about things. When the moon is full, stress becomes a major factor and we become more sensitive to details, whereas the new moon brings a sense of calmness.
Once in a Blue MoonA blue moon is an extra full moon that is either the 3rd of 4 full moons in a season, or a 2nd full moon in a month. The phrase "once in a blue moon" arises from its rarity. The phrase has nothing to do with the color, although the moon occasionally appears with a bit of blue due to volcanic eruptions or when extremely large fires send particles into the atmosphere.
Seasons of the SkyOur sky's appearance changes with the seasons.
Autumn brings harvest of milo, corn, and soybeans. It also brings with it a big, bright, orange moon, which is dubbed the "harvest moon" as it rises on the horizon while the farmers are still out working the fields. During this time of year, you can also view several constellations, including Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Winter occasionally presents the possibility to see the aurora borealis, better knows as the northern lights. Constellations that you will see include Aries, Orion, and Gemini.
Spring is when the land begins to produce growth after winter. Starting generally in the early evenings, strong thunderstorms over take the plains, offering viewers the chance to see intense and magnificent lightening shows. Visible constellations include Cancer, Leo, and Virgo.
Summer provides sky-watchers the chance to see the Milky Way at its best, appearing like a band of light across the galaxy. Summer constellations include Libra, Scorpius, and Sagittarius.
Perseid Meteor ShowerDisplaying a stunning show of celestial fireworks, the Perseid Meteor Shower starts in July, gradually rising to its peak by August. It is a favorite of night sky watchers, mostly because no binoculars are necessary to view it.
The shower appears to come from the constellation, Perseus. In ancient Greek mythology, Perseus was the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Dana. Legend has it that the Perseid Shower celebrates the time when Zeus visited Dana in a shower of gold. Perseus, according to the myth, was born from that shower of gold.
Insider TipSome of our favorite night sky viewing sights also offer night sky viewing events!
Check out the Calendar of Events in July and August for meteor shower and other sky-viewing events.
A brochure is available at the CVB office or by download in the Download Center, as a guide for exploring our night sky.
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