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Ask a Naturalist: Is a groundhog’s shadow a harbinger of spring?

Ask a Naturalist: Is a groundhog’s shadow a harbinger of spring?

While Groundhog Day was first celebrated in 1887 (in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, famously), the myth finds its origins in the Christian holyday of Candlemas: by which the length of winter was measured and calculated in candles. The Germans were the first to associate the ritual with the groundhog, developing the curious myth that we all know: If the groundhog emerges from its hole and sees its shadow, it becomes frightened and retreats back into the hole, prophesying six more weeks of harsh winter. If it sees no shadow, the way is cleared for an early spring.

Ready to go on a “carbon diet”?

Ready to go on a “carbon diet”?

Wednesday, Jan. 22: In his new book Live Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life, Karl Coplan chronicles the joys and challenges of a year on a carbon budget: kayaking to work, hunting down electric vehicle charging stations, eating a Mediterranean-style diet and enjoying plenty of travel on weekends and vacations while avoiding long-distance flights.

The increasingly popular First Day Hike tradition

The increasingly popular First Day Hike tradition

The best way to endure the affronts of cold and snow, in the opinion of this ardent winter walker, is to acclimate. Fear not the sub-freezing and let it have its salubrious way with your adaptive core systems. Get comfortable at 15 degrees and 30 will feel like SoCal.

New column: Ask a Professor — Why is the recent discovery of an ancient trove of massive galaxies significant?

New column: Ask a Professor — Why is the recent discovery of an ancient trove of massive galaxies significant?

Vassar professor Debra Elmegreen is president-elect of the International Astronomical Union – the largest organization of professional astronomers in the world – and will begin her three-year term as president in 2021. Like Maria Mitchell more than 150 years ago, Elmegreen was recently elected into membership of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Cary Institute to host “Sustainability: What We Need to Succeed” talk by Dr. Bruce Lourie

Cary Institute to host “Sustainability: What We Need to Succeed” talk by Dr. Bruce Lourie

Friday, Nov. 22: Can the Earth heal itself as quickly if we stop polluting it, or are we already irrevocably past the tipping point? If you’re losing sleep worrying about that existential question and could use a dose of hope, you might want to catch Dr. Lourie’s talk He is known for having initiated the largest climate action in North America: phasing out coal in Ontario.