4 Astronomical Events You Don't Want to Miss in November
By Kelly Kizer Whitt, SIERRA Magazine
The full moon in November will be super-sized, the largest of 2016. "Supermoon" is a recently coined term for when the moon is full and at perigee—its closest point to the earth in its elliptical orbit. Perigee will take place on Nov. 14 when the moon passes about 356,000 km from our planet. The full moon peaks less than three hours later, wowing viewers and causing larger than normal tides along the coast.
Three minor meteor showers, the South Taurids, North Taurids and Leonids, occur in November. If you're a night owl, you may spot some fireballs around midnight between Nov. 4 and 5 from the South Taurids, and some slow-moving bright meteors around midnight on Nov. 11 and 12 from the North Taurids. The Leonid meteor shower is better for early birds who are up an hour or more before sunrise on Nov. 17.
A Canopy of Stars
We'll all feel like night owls once the clock changes back to Standard Time on Nov. 6. For many in the U.S., the sun will set before 5 p.m. Let's face it: the long hours of darkness can be gloomy. But instead of hiding under the covers, bundle up and step outside to look at the brilliant sky of late fall. The crisp air will revive you, as will the clear view of stars more than a thousand light-years away. Look to the northeast to see the Capella star flashing and flaming. This vibrant beacon is a mere 42 light-years away.
Planets on the Move
In the beginning of November, Venus mingles brightly with Saturn in the southwestern sky. A crescent moon will pass the two planets from Nov. 1 to 3 and then scoot to the south, passing in the vicinity of Mars on Nov. 5. By mid-month, Saturn will drop lower in the horizon, crossing paths with Mercury around Nov. 25. Mercury will be rising away from the sun as Saturn sinks. On the last day of November, the crescent moon pops back into view in the west not far from Mercury.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
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