Friday, 16 March 2018

March 16 2018


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Edited by: Nelson Poirier
Transcript by: Louise Nichols
Info Line # 506-384-6397 (384-NEWS)
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** It’s last call for the Nature Moncton Sea Duck Workshop and Field Trip on for tomorrow, Saturday March 17th.  The full workshop write-up is attached.


Date: March 17, 2018
Time: 9:30 AM (workshop); 1:00 PM (outing)
Location: Sobeys Community Room on Elmwood Dr. for workshop
Presenter and Guide: Roger Leblanc

Everybody knows what a duck is. They are one of the most recognizable groups of birds. They are big, most males are colorful and they are not hard to find. But the reality of waterfowl gets a bit more complex when you scratch the surface. You have dabbling ducks that eat mostly vegetation on inland ponds and diving ducks that go more for live prey out on the coast. Some species are kind of in-between and can partake of both. Also, if you look closely, these feeding habits influence behaviors and migration patterns. And then there is the group that can be loosely referred to as “sea ducks”.  We are lucky here and now to be near a natural phenomenon which can be quite impressive, as sea ducks are in movement from their wintering areas to their breeding grounds. In early spring a lot of them will follow the Northumberland coast where they will often stop to feed and rest in large numbers. And this is
our chance to observe them at a time when breeding behavior and vocalization is not only possible but also expected. 

To help you experience this natural spectacle Nature Moncton is offering a workshop /outing on sea ducks where you will have a chance to gain or brush up on your ability to ID the birds and better understand their behaviors. Roger Leblanc will be our leader on this quest.  He has been studying the sights and sounds of sea ducks on the Northumberland coast for decades and is always pleased to share his knowledge with others.

So why not join us Saturday March 17th for an informative workshop and then a splendid outing?  The group will assemble at 9:30 AM in the community room of the Elmwood Drive Sobeys in Moncton.  Pre-registration is
advised.  The workshop will cover field ID and interesting facts about the dozen or so duck species that we could / should see during the outing. After having our carry-in lunch on site we will leave the Sobeys parking lot at 1:00 and head down to the coast of the strait which we will explore roughly from Shediac to Bouctouche stopping at many spots along the way that are well known by Roger as staging areas for sea ducks at this time of year.  So if you have always wanted to know more about sea ducks and their habits, this activity is for you! Come join us for a fun learning experience.

All are welcome, Nature Moncton member or not
Fee (for workshop):  $8.00
Registration: Louise Nichols at

** This week’s Sky-at-a-Glance is added to this edition, courtesy of sky-guru Curt Nason.  With some clear skies forecast for this week, we should be able to now have early evening views of Venus.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, March 17 - March 24

With this weekend being party time for many O’Revelers, is there
anything green that we can see in the sky? Yes, but rarely. We can see
stars that are red, orange, yellow, blue or white, but not green. The
colours are representative of their outer temperature, with red being
coolest and blue the hottest. Any star with an outer temperature
corresponding to green, which is in the middle wavelengths of the
visible spectrum, emits approximately equal but lesser amounts of red
and blue light. This combination gives us white light, and our Sun is
such a star.

Some stargazers have claimed to see green stars that are part of a
binary pair with a red giant star. Green is the complementary colour of
red, and it is thought that if you observe a white star after staring at
a red one, the complementary after-image can make the white star look
green. I tested this by looking at a dim red light in a darkened room
for a minute and then I switched on the incandescent light. It had a
green tinge. It is said that Zubeneshamali, the brightest star in Libra
and the one with the longest common name, is green. It might have been
the power of suggestion, but I did see it as a very pale green in an
8-inch telescope.

Some people have seen the Sun (aka Sol, the shortest name for a star)
flash green just before setting, and usually over water under steady
atmospheric conditions. The most common reason for green in the sky,
although still fairly rare in New Brunswick, is the northern lights.
Energetic electrons from the Sun can make oxygen atoms in our upper
atmosphere emit green light in a manner similar to that of a neon light.
Northern lights are seen more frequently around the equinoxes, and if
electrons have escaped the Sun through holes in its magnetic field lines
we could get lucky this weekend. If not, then take a break from the
partying to look up at the constellation O’Ryan.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:28 am and sunset will occur at
7:27 pm, giving 11 hours, 59 minutes of daylight (7:33 am and 7:32 pm in
Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:14 am and set at 7:37
pm, giving 12 hours, 23 minutes of daylight (7:19 am and 7:41 pm in
Saint John). The Sun crosses the equator heading north on Tuesday at
1:15 pm, beginning our spring season. Notice that March 17 is the day
when we are closest to having 12 hours of daylight, rather than on the
equinox as many people believe.

The Moon is at third quarter on March 17, making a great weekend for the
Messier Marathon. On Sunday in evening twilight the slim crescent Moon
anchors a line-up above the western horizon, with Venus a few degrees to
its upper right and Mercury an equal distance beyond. Next Saturday we
get to observe the first quarter Moon during Earth Hour. Start your
Monday morning with binocular observing before twilight. Mars lies
between the Lagoon Nebula (M8) and the Trifid Nebula (M20), and Saturn
is just north of the splendid globular cluster M22 to the left of the
Sagittarius Teapot lid. Jupiter is rising before midnight again by midweek.

The provincial astronomy club, RASC NB, meets this Saturday at 1 pm in
the Moncton High School. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at

Nelson Poirier,
Nature Moncton