Nature Notebook, November 2, 2017


The full moon of Friday, Nov. 3 is known as the hunter’s moon, providing extra night light for hunters to get a bit more acorn-fattened meat for the winter. It will appear bigger and brighter in a clear fall sky, and will likely outshine the peak night of the Taurid meteor showers on Saturday, Nov. 4. The Taurids are considered a lesser shower at a rate of five to 10 an hour. 

Looking forward to more celestial events, Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction on the morning of Nov. 13. These planets will be very close together: two bright sparkles in the eastern sky just before sunrise. If you are heading to Petaluma, you will spot them especially well above the olive farm. The major Leonid meteor shower follows, peaking on Nov. 17.

Many species are on the move as daylight hours shorten and less food is available. Typically, northern species move south, where there is a year-round supply of food. To make these regular trips, birds use a variety of cues, along with the stars, wind patterns and, possibly, mental maps. Concerns have been raised recently about leaving lights on at night during this time of year, as it may confuse some species as they travel and are unable to see stars, especially in urban areas. Birds often move in a predictable stream called a flyway.