Astronomy – Nature We Can See But Not Touch

We are all familiar with the observation of nature . . . people with binoculars and telescopes regularly look at landscapes, plants, birds and animals from a distance, and appreciate them without disturbing them. We can use the same technology to allow us to observe things beyond our planet! Our skies are literally teeming with interesting objects that give us clues as to the nature and structure of the universe, and put our own existence into context. Chris Vessey of the Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown will be feature speaker for the Nature PEI meeting on Tuesday, November 3rd. It starts at 7:30 PM at Beaconsfield’s Carriage House, corner of West and Kent, Charlottetown. Vessey is an amateur astronomer who will use his professional knowledge of computer science to enhance his presentation. He plans to enlighten us with:

 Basic concepts of the apparently changing position of objects in the sky, and what really happens;

 Basic types of telescopes and mounting systems;

 The use of computer software to simulate the sky;

 “Easy-to-find” objects in the sky right now, using naked eye or binoculars;

 Demonstrating how a Dobsonian-type telescope works; and

 Weather permitting, he’ll conduct an outdoor observing session. Be sure to dress in layers, so that you can enjoy both the indoor slide presentation, and if conditions permit, viewing outdoors. If you have binoculars, or perhaps a telescope, and wish to bring it, please do!

About Chris Vessey: He’s always had an interest in astronomy since his parents provided him with several lovely illustrated picture and fact books. One of his favourite images is the view of Venus from the Venera-13 space probe, as well as the early images of Mars from the Viking landers…but his greatest astronomy thrill was seeing the exceptionally bright and detailed comet Hale-Bopp with his parents in 1997. A lifelong geek, Chris started with computers in the early 1980s and now instructs Computer Science at the University of Prince Edward Island, specializing in hardware systems. He’s currently teaching a course in practical embedded systems, the hardware basis for all the internet-connected devices that are beginning to crop up everywhere. Although he’ll be demonstrating a basic manually-operated telescope, he notes that computer-guided telescopes are now well within the average family’s reach, and can greatly increase the ease with which objects can be found and tracked. Media Please Contact: Chris Vessey 902-940-6260

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“In Search Of “Phrag” Field Trip, October 25th 1:30 pm

You are invited to join the Field Trip, Sunday October 25th 1:30 pm “In Search Of “Phrag”

Explore the St. Chrysostome shoreline in search of PEI‘s tallest and most majestic grass, the Common Reed (Phragmites australis). Reportedly used by birds and humans ( arrow shafts, roofing thatch), most Prince Edward Island stands are in the west with the easternmost being in the upper Mount Stewart marsh. “Phrag” comes in two varieties, a red-stemmed native and a yellow-stemmed ”foreign Phrag” imported from Europe, which is proving to be invasive in many North American jurisdictions. Description : Meet near Higgin’s Wharf on the Higgins Wharf road, and walk 3.0 kilometers roundtrip along the shoreline where the various plants of a disturbed coastline will be identified, including Phragmites. Poplar should be a glorious ochre. Tide will be low, but waterproof footwear may be best. Directions: From Rte 2 from Richmond or Springhill, turn west on Rte 128 (Harmony Line Rd), then North onto Rte 11, Higgins Rd, until you meet your guide near Higgin’s wharf.

Field Trip Leader: Rosemary Curley.

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Island at the Centre of the World – Tue. Oct., 6th at 7:30 pm – 2015

Guest speaker geologist John Calder leads the way as Nature PEI resumes its fall meetings Tuesday, October 6th at 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House. He‘ll take us on a geological journey back to the origins of Prince Edward Island almost 300 million years ago, in the heart of the mega-continent known as Pangea. Dr. Calder will reconstruct that ancient world by drawing on the surprisingly rich record of fossil life discovered on PEI since 1845, and share how the red cliffs, sand dunes and potato fields of PEI speak of those ancient roots. And no talk on the evolution of PEI is complete without looking into the rising sea levels that created the Island thousands of years ago, and that continue to rise as our global climate warms.

Island at the Centre of the World is also a preview of a future book by Dr. Calder.
The Carriage house is located at the corner of West and Kent in Charlottetown.
You also have the opportunity to attend Dr. Calder’s lecture Island at the Centre of the World in Summerside where he is being hosted by the Summerside Rotary Library at 3:00 pm, Tuesday, October 6th.

John Calder is a geologist who has specialized in the study of the sedimentary rocks and fossils of the Maritimes. He is a Senior Geologist with the Nova Scotia Dept. of Natural Resources, part-time faculty member at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, and President of the Atlantic Geoscience Society. John has been recognized nationally for his communication of Earth Science to the public. Island at the Centre of the World will be a companion book to Coal Age Galápagos, the story of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs, which he helped to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status.

Beaconsfield, the Carriage House is located at the corner of West and Kent Streets in Charlottetown.

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Shaking the Bushes for PEI Spiders

Few share a fascination for spiders, but this summer in Prince Edward Island, the few that do are shaking the bushes in an effort to learn more about these creatures in the provincial context. It is known that 437 species of spider have been recorded in Nova Scotia and 382 species tallied in New Brunswick, but the Island list is a scant 38 species, with a few additional species located recently. Museums usually sponsor and house biological collections but the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation has only rarely made such collections; outside institutions have not filled the gap and thus spiders (and many insect and other invertebrate wildlife species) exist here in a “black hole” of ignorance.

It is easy to explain the difference in species lists but harder to obtain a remedy. However, Nature PEI is recruiting “citizen scientists” with a passion for collecting and carefully recording data on each successful expedition. The aim is to assemble at least 1,000 specimens, have them sorted by student Caleb Harding at the University of Prince Edward Island, and then identified by a spider specialist. Unfortunately, spiders are not easily identified by amateurs, and photographs are generally insufficient to allow identification for most species.

“The landscape of species distributions is altering rapidly with climate change and it will be valuable to have a baseline of spider information against which future change can be measured” says Rosemary Curley, President of Nature PEI. “As well, we know the number and variety of alien species entering Canada is skyrocketing with global trade, and the effects of introduced spiders cannot begin to be assessed without a baseline of native species. Species of European origin were recently collected on the Island and all alien species are of concern as they may negatively affect native species”. Nature PEI has been fortunate to receive funding from the PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund to enable this work.

Collection methods are many and varied for these important predators of insects in agricultural crops, including shaking the bushes, sweep netting, and setting pit traps (something along the lines of a Winne the Pooh heffalump trap, but smaller). Anyone who wishes to help improve our knowledge of Island spiders by collecting, preserving and submitting them for identification can attend a Nature PEI workshop on Saturday August 8th, 9:30 am to 12:00 noon at the Forests, Fish and Wildlife office at 183 Upton Road, Charlottetown. It will feature a presentation on spiders (did you know some species capture fish?), procedures for collecting and recording data, and a local expedition to learn how to capture and handle these critters. Local spider whiz Kyle Knysh will be on hand to share his experience with eight-leggers, supported by collectors Caleb and Bob Harding.

For more information: Rosemary Curley 902-569-1209

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Conservation Conversations: Where Should We Focus Conservation Work on PEI?

Tuesday June 2nd, 2015 – Conservation Conversations: Where Should We Focus Conservation Work on PEI? – Julie Vasseur of Nature Conservancy Canada will be Nature PEI’s feature speaker for this joint NCC/Nature PEI presentation. The Society’s meeting starts at 7:30 PM at Beaconsfield’s Carriage House. All are welcome. Refreshments are served.

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Global Big Day Field Trip – 8:00 AM – Sunday May 9th, 2015

Join Nature PEI: The Natural History Society of Prince Edward Island and Birding on PEI to look for newly arriving birds along the Dunk River and Scales Pond. (This is a warm up for the Bain Bird Count.) Meet at the Parking Lot of the International Children’s Memorial Place at 8:00 AM. Please be prepared for the weather. All ages and experience levels welcome. Part of Global Big Day.
Global Big Day

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Homes Safe For Birds – new brochure

We are pleased to provide in PDF format the new brochure called Homes Safe For Birds. Helpful ideas to ensure that birds are not killed and injured due to window strikes.

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