Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Venus and the Moon

This is an image of Venus and a waxing crescent Moon in the SW sky captured by the VMNH WeatherBug cam just before 7 pm. Check it out tomorrow as we say goodbye to 2008, these two will be lined up in conjunction. For more go to StarDate.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunset on Winter Solstice 2008

Here's an image captured by the VMNH Weatherbug web cam at sunset (5:07 p.m.) December 21, 2008. The view is toward the southwest with the steeple of First Baptist Church on the left and the sun setting on the horizon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

NASA - The Sun Shows Signs of Life

After two-plus years of few sunspots, even fewer solar flares, and a generally eerie calm, the sun is finally showing signs of life. "I think solar minimum is behind us," says sunspot forecaster David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. His statement is prompted by an October flurry of sunspots.

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Check out our new project: Wilson Park Tree Survey at http://wilsonparktreesurvey.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

VMNH Interpreters Visit Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

VMNH interpreters and educators visited Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine yesterday and went on an underground tour of the once-active coal mine. The coal mine employs former and active coal miners to lead the tours who add greatly to the experience.

Pictured here (from left to right) is: (front) Gael Chaney, Larry and Carolyn Turner, Christy Deatherage, Evelyn Trent; (back row) Jim Harris, Dennis Reeves, and Joe Ingram.

After the tour of the mine, we were guided through the historic structures on site including a period one-room schoolhouse, a mine superintendent's home, a miner's home, and a reconstructed log-cabin homestead (below).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Trout in the Classroom Course

I arrived in Staunton this afternoon in preparation for the Mary Baldwin College course. The octagonal barn at the Frontier Culture Museum will be home base for the week.

To find out more, go to

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

HESIT Teachers and VMNH Staff Explore Boxley Quarry in Fieldale

The trip to Boxley was fun. VMNH Curator of Earth Sciences Dr. Jim Beard talked to the group about the geology of the Piedmont and the rocks and minerals found in the quarry.

Participants "mined" the rocks in the quarry looking for good classroom specimens.

Some of the minerals collected included: muscovite mica, biotite mica, garnet, feldspar, quartz, pyrite, and chlorite.

After leaving the pit, we ate lunch, sitting on some big quarry boulders along the access road, under some much appreciated shade trees.

On the way back to the museum, we stopped by a nearby rock formation along the banks of the Smith River. Here Dr. Beard, using a geologic map of the area, talked to the group about the volcanic rock diabase, "...that originated from the mid-ocean ridge zone from the breakup of the Paleozoic era supercontinent Pangea, about 180 million years ago."

When we returned to the museum, Dr. Lauck Ward, curator of invertebrate paleontology, gave a presentation to the group along with the museum's volunteer interpreters on the topic of the mollusks of Virginia's tidewater.
After the presentaion, the group toured the scientific labs, education center, and the new exhibit, "Amazing Feats of Aging."
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hollins Elementary Science Institute for Teachers at VMNH

Tomorrow, 23 educators from HESIT will be coming to VMNH to take a behind-the-scenes tour the museum and a geologic fieldtrip to Boxley Materials Quarry in nearby Fieldale. One rock from this Henry County location is a garnetiferous biotite gneiss, a light- to medium-gray, mediumgrained, highly metamorphosed sedimentary rock. This rock is part of the Fork Mountain Formation, the rocks date to the Cambrian – Late Proterozoic (505 – 900 million years ago). See Virginia Minerals (v19 n4, Nov. 1973) (image courtesy of Virginia Department of Mines Mineral and Energy).

The tour of the museum will go into areas not typically seen by the general public including the scientific labs and the Suzanne M. Lacey Education Center.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

For those that live in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice occurred just before midnight Universal Time (5:59 pm Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, June 20th. It was the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.

Because the Earth orbits the Sun and Earth's axis of rotation is tilted, the length of daylight changes through the year. Summer solstice has the longest period of daylight and the shortest period of night because the northen hemisphere is at its maximum tilt toward the Sun. The length of the daylight varies by latitude, but in Martinsville, Virginia it was 14 hours and 41 minutes (US Naval Observatory).

From now until the fall equinox, the length of daylight will decrease by a few minutes less each day until the length of the day and the length of the night will be exactly equal--known as equinox.

For a good explanantion of summer solstice, visit: http://www.earthsky.org/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-solstice-on-june-21

Saturday, June 21, 2008

VMNH WeatherBug

This is an image taken at about 7 pm, June 21, 2008 by the museum's WeatherBug web cam located on the roof. The direction is northwest and off in the distance is a storm cloud. This past week, we established an automated link between our WeatherBug weather station and the GLOBE atmospheric database for the museum. From now on, each day's atmospheric data will be automatically uploaded to the GLOBE database.

Southwestern Piedmont Master Naturalists to Begin New Course of Study

The next course of study for the Southwestern Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program is about to begin. There will be an information session at the Virginia Museum of Natural History on July 15 at 6:30. Anyone interested should attend or contact me (634-4184). Applications are due July 18 and the first class is scheduled for July 29.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yorktown and Gloucester, June 15-16, 2008

Sunday (June 15, 2008) I drove to Gloucester to attend a Learn and Serve Virginia workshop for grant recipients. All of the recipients are doing service learning projects related to water quality. I presented a program entitled "GLOBE Hydrology and Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences."

I arrived in Gloucester at about 3 pm and finding that my room was not ready, I drove to Yorktown for the afternoon.

These images were taken in Historic Yorktown on the York River.