Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. If you're looking for something to do with the family during vacation, why not drop down for a walk? Our holiday hours are:

December 24: 10 am - 1 pm
December 25: closed
December 26 - 28: 1 - 5 pm

We're also open 1 - 5 pm on January 1 & 3. All other days will be regular business hours.

Did you know that you can access the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary even when the Nature Centre is closed? Just use the gate to the north side of the building.

Have a great holiday. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Clarification on Tonight's Total Lunar Eclipse

I've had a phone call or two asking if the Kerry Wood Nature Centre is doing anything in honour of tonight's total lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, the only thing we are doing is encouraging people to get out and try to see it- it's not often that we have a clear shot at a total lunar eclipse, and especially not when it coincides with the shortest day of the year. Let me explain further...

Total lunar eclipses happen more frequently than you may think. I did a bit of research and found that there was a total lunar eclipse in 1967, 1978 and 1989; a spacing of 11 years between them. Since lunar eclipses are only visible on the night side of the Earth, we didn't see these particular eclipses when they happened. There were three total lunar eclipses within one year at the turn of the millenium: on January 21, 2000, July 16, 2000, and January 9, 2001. Only the first of these was partially visible from North America and, unfortunately for us here in Red Deer, only from the eastern parts. Australia, Africa and Asia, respectively, had the best seats for the other two, though many Canadians did travel to those countries to see them. (Coincidentally, my research also showed that Australia has the most common occurrence of total lunar eclipses altogether. North American sightings were very infrequent- one more reason to watch tonight!)

So what about tonight's eclipse?

As in Diane's previous post, the "show" doesn't start until 11:33 p.m. That would be 11:33 p.m. tonight, Monday, Dec. 20, which is a work/school night for most people (myself included). The total eclipse begins around 12:41 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, with totality finishing at approximately 1:53 a.m. tomorrow morning. But it doesn't end there! For all you diehard astronomers out there, the partial eclipse will go on for another hour and 8 minutes, with the partial eclipse ending around 3:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, which also happens to be winter solstice. It is the combination of a total lunar eclipse falling on winter solstice that is the once-in-400-years event the media is talking about. This, and the fact that total lunar eclipses are cool to watch, makes me think it's worth a little lost sleep.

Happy viewing!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Look waaay up...

For those interested in the night skies, remember that there is a total lunar eclipse coming up on December 21st. The forecast right now says that we're to expect a clear, if chilly, night, so hopefully we'll have some good viewing.

The eclipse lasts for about 72 minutes, with the partial eclipse starting at 11:33 pm and mid-eclipse hitting at 1:17 am. There's no special equipment needed to view a lunar eclipse; just dress warmly, find a dark spot to watch the sky from, and look for the moon.

For more information, check out NASA's eclipse page.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's That Time of the Year Again

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is coming back to Red Deer. January 13 & 14, 2011.

Tickets are $20 +GST per night or $36 + GST for both nights. This is the Nature Centre's biggest fundraiser of the year. Get you tickets early for the best mountain-nature, mountain-culture and mountain-sport films from around the world.

Many thanks to our local sponsors - who are selling tickets at their shops: Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Purearth Organics.

Here's a taste of this year's show. Turn your speakers up to eleven!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas at the Nature Centre

Just a reminder to anyone looking for something a little different for Christmas gifts this year that tickets for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (January 13th & 14th at the Memorial Centre) are now available at the Nature Centre, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, or Purearth Organics. Tickets are $20+GST for each night, or $36+GST for both nights.

As well, the Nature Centre Bookstore is a great source of local nature books, bird feeders and seed, and a wide array of unusual stocking stuffers. Looking for planispheres? Pocket Naturalist Guides? Chocolate-covered Insects? We've got them here!


If you're looking for Christmas/winter activities, consider participating in the Christmas Bird Count on December 19th. Potluck supper to follow at the Nature Centre. Please call the Red Deer River Naturalists at 403-347-8200 for more information.

For some old-fashioned Christmas fun, come out to Fort Normandeau and join us for Christmas at the Fort (Sunday, December 19th from 1 - 4 pm). There'll be snowshoeing, crafts, activities and a bonfire. It's a great afternoon of fun with the family. $3/person or $10/family at the gate.

For more information on any of our winter programming, please call us at 403-346-2010.