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Poor Will's Almanack: June 28 – July 4, 2016

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Greg Wagoner
/
Flickr Creative Commons

The Raspberry Moon wanes throughout the week ahead, reaching perigee (its position closest to Earth) on July 1 and  becoming the new Coneflower Moon on July 4.

As the Coneflower Moon waxes and wanes through July, it brings on the black-eyed Susans, gray-headed coneflowers, showy coneflowers, and the white, purple and red coneflowers.  When their blossoms disappear, early fall will be fast approaching.

The 4th of July is not only new moon day but the day on which the Sun reaches aphelion, its position farthest from Earth. Having begun to move lower each day on June 23rd the Sun has already traveled a little more than five percent of its distance to equinox by Independence Day. And throughout the month, the sun drops slowly from its solstice declination of 23 degrees 26 minutes to a late-summer declination of 18 degrees 29 minutes about a fourth of the way to autumn.

The Sun may be weakening, if you believe the statistics, but the Dog Days dispute the facts. Sirius, the Dog Star is right in the middle of the southern sky at noon, moving in to obscure the solar decline. Throughout the corn belt of the United States of America, that star pulls in the Corn Tassel Rains to add humidity and tasseling corn to the heat.

On the other hand, the rough-winged swallows aren’t fooled by the Dog Days. They read the sun and begin their migrations now. And then there are the woolly bear caterpillars: they begin the to wander in search of winter quarters at aphelion. Even humans, cued to the harvest of winter grains, fill their larders.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of middle summer. In the meantime,  look for coneflowers under the Coneflower Moon….and look for woolly bears too.
 

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.