Clear skies last night aided perfect viewing of the full moon as well as winter constellations, Mars and Saturn. Tonight’s moon is waning but will be along side Saturn to the east in early evening hours.
Wildlife sightings have been exceptional during recent safaris and have included wolves, a mink, river otters and several raptors. During yesterday’s snowshoe hike on Spring Creek Ranch, we had the year’s first sighting of a bald eagle perched on our resident eagle nest. We will keep our fingers crossed that our eagle pair successfully raise chicks this year.
This week’s full moon rose above the Gros Ventre mountains to the east just as the sun set behind the Tetons. The full moon following October’s “harvest moon” is sometimes referred to as the “hunter’s moon.”
The national parks are feeling quieter in terms of visitors this week, but the local elk are anything but quiet this time of year. The rut, or mating season, of elk is beginning and will last for the next few weeks.
The bugling call of a large bull elk is one of the wildest sounds in nature and will make the hair stand on end of even the most seasoned elk observer. The bulls become focused on fighting with other males and pursuing females to the point that they eat very little this time of year and may lose up to 200 pounds. During last night’s astronomy program we observed Jupiter, many summer constellations, three distinct meteorites (shooting stars), and several satellites including the space shuttle.
Last night, we had clear skies which provided this wonderful view of a conjunction between the crescent moon and our closest planetary neighbor, Venus. The moon was showing about 10% while Venus was at its absolute brightest, which makes it appear about 20 times brighter than the brightest star, Sirius. This photograph was taken from the naturalist cabin here at Spring Creek Ranch.
During summer months we offer Astronomy Programs to our guests which have proven very popular due to our extremely dark skies.