TRAIL NEWS:
  • Trails are clear, but muddy in places. Big Creek is full of sucker, Canada buffaloberry is in bloom, and in the evenings, woodcocks are dancing at the Astronomy Campus.

What’s Happening: Eclipses

This week, the people of Door County will experience a partial solar eclipse so the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society will open the Astronomy Campus on Monday, April 8 from 12:30 to 3:00 , whether or not the weather cooperates.

A solar eclipse does not affect the Moon. It does not affect the Sun. But it does affect the Earth and like the researchers at NASA, we at Crossroads are curious about how a solar eclipse will influence the behavior of plants and animals and even the weather.

Earth While Eclipsed

In both total and partial solar eclipses, the energy of the Sun is blocked by the Moon, so most people think of this as a time of darkness. But realize that human eyes detect only the wavelengths of the (very narrow)  visible spectrum.

But the Moon blocks the full electromagnetic spectrum. It blocks the Ultraviolet wavelengths which are not visible to  human eyes but apparently are detected by some insects and other creatures and also, can enhance photosythesis. 

The Moon also blocks Infrared wavelengths  So during an eclipse,  the heat of the Sun, for a brief time, does not reach the Earth. This explains changes in weather, But, we wonder: could it be  the lack of heat waves, rather than darkness, that influences the changes in wildlife behavior?

During Crossroads’ free Science Saturday program at 2:00 on April 6, families will explore, through videos and hands-on demonstrations, the changes that take place here on Earth during an eclipse. And thanks to the Door County Library, each participating family will receive a free pair of solar viewing glasses and a few quick lessons on viewing safety.  

Studying Eclipses

During past total eclipses, scientists have learned the pH of seawater changes, temperatures drop, and the wind dies down. There also  are scads of anecdotal reports of birds “freaking out” or going to roost trees and singing night songs,…of  owls hooting… and of crickets starting to chirp.   But anecdotal reports  small samples and often contradictory.

Consequently,  in the path of totally, NASA is  sponsoring a  research effort called  “Soundscapes”, and they are asking community scientists, school and youth groups, and naturalists to make sound recordings before, during and after totality.  In several national parks  within the path of totality, NASA has set up special sound monitoring equipment to record soundscape changes.

Crossroads, as part of our restoration/research initiatives, owns (and has deployed)  this kind of sound monitoring equipment to capture the songs and calls of birds and frogs. However,  our equipment is set to record at dawn and dusk, so it will be of little or no use at the maximum darkness here around 2:00 pm. And with the crazy weather we have had this year, who even knows if our songbirds will be singing, our wood frogs quacking or peepers peeping. We certainly won’t hear crickets yet.

So our wildlife observations will be anecdotal. BUT the DPAS website www.doorastronomy.org posts data from its newly installed weather station at the Astronomy Campus so we will be able to  monitor changes in temperature,  wind speed, air pressure, the  UV index and solar radiation.  And thanks to the Door County Library, we should have enough eclipse glasses for all who attend the viewing party.

Beyond the Eclipse

Speaking of the Door County Library—as we  so often do—Crossroads will be partnering with them for two additional programs  in the same week as the partial eclipse.

On Wednesday, April 10 at 6:30, the Door County Library will offer a live stream presentation at Crossroads. The webinar “ Container Gardening through the Year”  features Melinda Myers.  Learn how to use container gardens to boost the color and seasonal interest in any size landscape, garden, balcony, or deck. With your budget in mind, we will explore attractive combinations of trees, shrubs, flowers, edible plants, and those that attract pollinators. Plus, you’ll learn strategies for extending your enjoyment year-round by transforming all or a portion of the container planting with the changing seasons. The webinar is sponsored by the Door County Library in collaboration with The Door County Master Gardeners, Door County Seed Library and Crossroads at Big Creek.

The final Fish Tales Lecture of the 2024 Series will be presented Thursday, April 11 at 7:00 pm. Dr. Karen Murchie, Director of Freshwater Research at Shedd Aquarium, will present “Suckers on the move – what we’ve learned from tagging and tracking.”  Murchie will described  what has been discovered about the movement of suckers using hydroacoustic tags in a Green Bay tributaries. The presentation will be held in-person at 7:00 pm the lecture hall at the Crossroads at Big Creek. Zoom and Facebook Live links will be available on Door County Library website Events calendar.

As always, our trails are open all day every day, free of charge. Check the Crossroads website calendar for upcoming events and details.


Upcoming Activities

Saturday, April 6

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Science Saturdays: The Eclipse and Nature

A Total Solar Eclipse will take place this week, though here in Door County, we will experience only a partial eclipse. An eclipse does not affect the Moon or the Sun, but it does affect the Earth. Learn how an eclipse darkness influences the behavior of plants and animals and even the weather. Families can enjoy several videos, participate in demonstrations in the lab, and weather permitting, take a hike. Each family will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses. Meet in the Collins Learning Center, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay.


Monday, April 8

12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. DPAS Partial Eclipse Viewing Party

Join the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society in celebrating the eclipse at the Astronomy Campus—rain cloudy, or (we hope) clear. We may not be in the totality, but the eclipse is still something to behold. Live stream of the total eclipse will be offered on the large screen in the Stonecipher Center and safe viewing opportunities, demonstrations. Free eclipse glasses (while the supply lasts)  will be provided. Free and open to learners of all ages. The Astronomy Campus is located at 2200 Utah Street in Sturgeon Bay.


Tuesday, April 9

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Door Peninsula Astronomical Society April Meeting

This month, the DPAS President Dave Lenius will present program “Discoveries from the James Webb Telescope”  at the monthly meeting.  If conditions allow, we will open the observatory following the meeting. Visitors are encouraged.  Meet at the Stonecipher Astronomy Center 2200 Utah, Sturgeon Bay.


Wednesday, April 10

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Livestream Presentation: “Container Gardening Through the Year”

Watch this live-stream presentation of gardening expert Melinda Myers to learn how to use container gardens to boost the color and seasonal interest in any size landscape, garden, balcony, or deck. With your budget in mind, we will explore attractive combinations of trees, shrubs, flowers, edible plants, and those that attract pollinators. Plus, you’ll learn strategies for extending your enjoyment year-round by transforming all or a port portion of the container planting with the changing seasons. Sponsored by the Door County Library in collaboration with The Door County Master Gardeners, Door County Seed Library and Crossroads at Big Creek. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon


Thursday, April 11

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Fish Tales Lecture Series: Suckers on the Move

Dr. Karen Murchie, Director of Freshwater Research of Shedd Aquarium, will present “Suckers on the move – what we’ve learned from tagging and tracking.”  Murchie will describe what has been discovered about movement of suckers using hydroacoustic tags in  Green Bay tributaries. The presentation will be held in-person at 7:00 pm in the lecture hall at the Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve, 2401 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Zoom and Facebook Live links will be available and offered in Door County Library website. Events calendar.

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