Space Station on a Starry Night!

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

The International Space Station tracked right by our house last night in Palm Bay, Florida! It moves FAST! ! Other evening sightings included tree frogs on the window, raccoon and babies under the tree, armadillo looking for bugs, and owl hunting from a favorite perch by the pond (her sudden whinny behind me was surprising!). 

Art Meets Science: Color Changing Flowers

Pink Petunias

Pink Petunias

Purple and White Petunias

Purple and White Petunias

Flowers are currently being developed that change color either throughout the day or on demand – a meeting of art and science. Based on circadian rhythms, your pink petunias in the morning would change to purple flowers by afternoon. Or based on watering, your petunias would change from white to pink to purple within 24 hours. Petunias in the past have played a critical role in the study of RNAi and its potential impact on the treatment of human disease (which led to a Nobel prize in 2006).  Flowers have been cultivated and bred for centuries, and this is one more way to increase man’s pleasure from plants.  More info is at: http://www.idtdna.com/pages/decoded/decoded-articles/your-research/decoded/2015/03/03/color-changing-flowers-biotechnology-for-everyone?utm_source=IDT+Customers&utm_campaign=52f1f391f7-DECODED_031015_test3_4_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9f34f28ea2-52f1f391f7-223792633&goal=0_9f34f28ea2-52f1f391f7-223792633

Fossil Seashells: Hidden Beauty

Florida Fossil Seashells Under Normal Light

Florida Fossil Seashells Under Normal Light

Fossil Seashells Under UV Light

Fossil Seashells Under UV Light

Similar Shells Today

Similar Shells Today

A recent scientific article describes how hidden patterns can be revealed by viewing fossilized seashells under UV light. I had to try this myself! I dug out our box of Florida fossils and looked at the chalky white seashells under a UV blacklight. Like magic – the patterns appeared! Nature is truly amazing. The detailed article on glowing shells is at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120924.

Space Station Flyover

Moonrise in Florida

Moonrise in Florida

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 2

Airplane Trails 2

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV - click for details)

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV – click for details)

We had an extra bright flyover of the International Space Station on Friday evening.  It was a gorgeous warm night with a full moon rising.  As I was taking the pictures, I could hear mama owl singing by the pond.  For better photography next time, I’m looking forward to a nice dark night so that I can take a longer exposure.  If you want to see the Space Station, check flyover times at: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ Remember that the Space Station emits a bright continuous light (the reflection from the solar panels), and airplanes emit flashing lights.

Screech Owls are Nesting!

Screech Owl in Nest Box

Screech Owl in Nest Box

Screech Owl with Erect Feather Tufts

Screech Owl with Erect Feather Tufts

Screech Owl's Round Yellow Eyes

Screech Owl’s Round Yellow Eyes

Screech Owl Wink

Screech Owl Wink

I did some gardening yesterday after work, and had a wonderful surprise.  I looked up and saw mama screech owl watching me!  She moved into her nest box right on schedule for spring.  Amazingly she continued to pose while I took pictures.  Lucky day!  Eastern screech owls pair up and remain together for life.  Other posts about screech owls are at: https://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=screech+owl 

Bee Ball!

Flower Bed (butterfly bush with bees is on middle right)

Flower Bed (butterfly bush with bees is on middle right)

Football-Sized Cluster of Bees

Football-Sized Cluster of Bees

Close-up of Bee Ball (used telephoto lens)

Close-up of Bee Ball (used telephoto lens)

Collecting the Bees

Collecting the Bees

Original Bee Colony in Birdhouse

Original Bee Colony in Birdhouse

We were working in our flower garden on Sunday, and realized there was an unusual number of honeybees flying around our butterfly bush. We didn’t understand why, because the plant had no flowers. Then we saw what was going on – there was a ball of bees in the middle of the bush! They were clustered together protecting the queen, waiting for scout bees to find a new home. The bees had outgrown their original home in the birdhouse nearby. Some of the bees had left in a swarm to start a new colony. If you see a swarm, the bees will leave once they find a new place for a hive (usually within 3-4 days). An article about bees and swarming (which is normal this time of year) is at: http://www.beethinking.com/pages/how-to-catch-a-swarm 

 Luckily we have a beekeeper friend who offered to come collect the bees early this morning (Monday). Time was of the essence, and this morning’s cool, clear weather was perfect for the task. The process was interesting to watch, and it was fascinating to hear that every movement the bees make has meaning. Happily the bees are now sitting in their portable hive under a mango tree in his garden, awaiting transfer to another friend’s yard for her new beekeeping endeavor. The bees are already drinking the 1:1 sugar syrup he provided, and beginning to make wax comb. Bees are an extremely important part of the ecosystem, and critical for the food we eat. At the hive, bees even do a “dance” to tell other bees where nectar can be found. Maybe we’ll get to enjoy some fresh honey from those bees later on!

California Beach Treasures

California Coast South of San Francisco

California Coast South of San Francisco

Long Exposure of Rocky Coast

Long Exposure of Rocky Coast

Long Exposure of Ocean Waves

Long Exposure of Ocean Waves

Sea Foam on a Windy Day

Sea Foam on a Windy Day

Tafoni Rocks

Tafoni Rocks

Interesting Rock Patterns

Interesting Rock Patterns

Colorful Pebbles and Orange Turban Shell

Colorful Pebbles and Orange Turban Shell

Japanese Fishing Float

Japanese Fishing Float

Acorn Barnacles and Red Algae (Nori)

Acorn Barnacles and Red Algae (Nori)

Salp and Seaweed

Salp and Seaweed

By the Wind Sailor  with Green and Blue Sea Glass

By the Wind Sailor with Green and Blue Sea Glass

Green Anemone in Tidepool

Green Anemone in Tidepool

6 Armed Purple Sea Star

6 Armed Purple Sea Star

Agates Collected on Beach

Agates Collected on Beach

Agates Glowing under UV Blacklight

Agates Glowing under UV Blacklight

Agates after Polishing in Rock Tumbler

Agates after Polishing in Rock Tumbler

The California coastline south of San Francisco is very rocky and scenic. At low tide there are all sorts of interesting things to see on the beach and in the tidepools.  A day at the ocean anywhere is always fun!  A good link with info about biodiversity on California’s central coast is:   http://www.centralcoastbiodiversity.org/intertidal-and-subtidal-species.html  (Click on the pictures above for additional stories and links.)

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