Things in the sky (Feb. 13 and Feb. 13-16)

February 12, 2009

This weekend brings two opportunities to take note of objects in the sky, one at home and the other at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, part of the Saint Louis Science Center. As you might guess, that latter one involves a telescope, which will be trained on the night sky for free viewings, courtesy of the St. Louis Astronomical Society, at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 13). In addition, the night marks the unveiling of two mural-sized images of the spiral galaxy Messier 101, and the first 100 people to arrive receive small-size copies to take home for free. The unveiling happens rain or shine; the viewing is weather-permitting. The event is recommended for kids age 3 to 18 and is part of the planetarium’s ongoing free viewing on the first Friday of most months; for details, call the Night Sky Update, 314.289.4453 (or toll-free 800.456.SLSC x4453).

The stay-at-home event is the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend (Feb. 13-16), and it’s a nationwide event that last year involved some 85,000 people couting more than 9.8 million birds. To become part of it, simply log onto the homepage and click “how to participate.” From there you can download a chart of our region’s most common species, then set aside 15 minutes for viewing and marking the handy-dandy checklist.  You enter the results online (do a new checklist for each day, if you choose to observe more than once or check out a couple different locations).  Data must be submitted by March 1 to be tallied for 2009’s count.

This event was brought to my attention by a birding enthusiast who’s kind enough to check the blog often even though he doesn’t live in St. Louis and doesn’t have young children (thanks, Charles!) .  He rarely mentions his concern that his favorite hobby could be more difficult for my kids, as some birds are becoming more rare in the United States due to global climate change, loss of habitate and other factors. About 200 breeds are threatened, including some common backyard ones like the chickadee (its population is down 73 percent since 1967).  Cornell University’s ornithology lab, which sponsors the bird count along with the Audobon Society, is also promoting backyard measures like building nesting houses.  You can download instructions online and make one for one of the species you count this weekend.


One Response to “Things in the sky (Feb. 13 and Feb. 13-16)”

  1. Charles J Taft Says:

    And you are most welcome!!!!!

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