Nature

The National Weather Service

Rain, snow, partly cloudy skies—right or wrong, where would we be without daily weather forecasts? In 1870, 150 years ago this year, President Grant signed into law a bill that established the National Weather Service. The 1870 bill was introduced and passed in response to the number of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes caused by bad weather. In a two-year period, over 3,078 shipwrecks occurred and 530 lives were lost.

Today, the National Weather Service has 122 weather forecast offices (WFO) in six regions. New Jersey’s weather forecast office is located is located in Mount Holly (Philadelphia) with the office call sign PHI.

20 years before the National Weather Service received its official designation, volunteer weather observers were collecting data and telegraphing it to a central location to be plotted on maps and analyzed. Believe it or not, the telegraph (which was first demonstrated by Samuel Morse in Morristown, NJ) and the Smithsonian Institution were critical to this work. The Smithsonian Institution was the central location where weather maps were created and archived. Over 500 weather stations were sending daily weather reports by telegraph by 1860.

In recognition of the work of the National Weather Service, MHHM will focus on weather throughout August during Wednesday’s Storytime: Guess & Go! at noon on Facebook Live.

Resources:

Be a weather watcher and record high and low temperatures in your neighborhood. 

Learn more about the history of the National Weather Service, one of the six agencies part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).

Read some fun facts about the weather.

The Buck Moon

Farmers have used almanacs for years to get tips for growing and planting crops. In addition to planting tips, almanacs contain long-range weather forecasts and lunar calendars to help farmers and gardeners decide when to plant seeds. Some believe that the moon can have an effect on how plants grow. The Farmers’ Almanac, which Mr. Macculloch had a copy of, claims that the water inside plants is affected by the gravitational pull of the moon just like the ocean tides. Each lunar calendar includes the phases of the moon. Full moon’s occur every month and each one has a name that is derived from Native American traditions. Native Americans did not use a calendar system like the one we have today. Instead, they used the moon to track time. The names that are used in almanacs come from Algonquian speaking tribes of New England and the Great Lakes.

This July 4, in addition to fireworks, you might see the Buck Moon as well. The Buck Moon gets its name from male deer, known as bucks, because antlers typically grow in July. July’s full moon is also called the Thunder Moon, because of the frequent thunderstorms in July, or the Hay Moon, because farmers typically prepare hay for winter around this time of year. This year, the Buck Moon is extra special because it is also a penumbral eclipse. Penumbral eclipses occur when the moon crosses into the faint out edges of the Earth’s shadow, making the moon slightly darker than usual. This July 4, keep an eye out for the Buck Moon and see if you can see the penumbral eclipse!

Resources:

Check out this video to learn more about the different moon names and how those names came to be.

Native Americans tribes had different beliefs about stars, moon, and space. Check out this playlist of videos from the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian that features a variety of Native myths. When watching, think about the similarities and differences between them.

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape are Native Americans who are indigenous to New Jersey. They are descended from the Alqonguin speaking Nanticoke and Lenape peoples. Check out this video of a Lenni Lenape Pow wow from the 2017 New Jersey Folk Festival of one of their traditional dances. What can you learn about their culture from the video?

Want to learn more about the science behind the moon? Check out this video from National Geographic!

The Night Shift

Even though some moths are active during the day, moths have an important job to do as night time pollinators. Moths often pollinate plants that other pollinators ignore. They are known pollinators of evening primrose, night blooming jasmine, and honeysuckle.

Globally, there are more species of moths (160,000) than there are of butterflies (17,500 species) according to the Smithsonian Institution. Even in New Jersey, moths rule with 1,500 species compared to 150 species of butterflies! Some species of moths are so colorful that they are often mistaken for butterflies.

Did you know that inchworms are the caterpillars of the Geometer moth? The moths lay their eggs on foxglove, primrose, and thyme plants. In late June and July, the inchworms dangle on silken-threads from tree branches traveling to the soil and leaf litter where they will spin their cocoons.

Resources:

Listen to Leo Lionni’s Inch by Inch told by Jeffrey Woodrow.

Download a moth coloring book and get creative! For some ideas on how to color your moths, visit www.mothscount.org.

Once you’ve colored your moths, take the project one step further and make a moth habitat.

Hear a story about pollinators, Flowers Are Calling, by Rita Gray.