The Latest Buzz About Bats

What do high school seniors and first graders have in common? It might surprise you!

You may remember last year Culver High School S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) class designed and built a hydroelectric powered paddle-wheel that will power a portion of the Crooked River Campground.  Well they did not stop there.

This year teacher Mike Dove, Culver High School, is leading his AP biology class into the dark and mysterious world of bats.  Mr. Dove invited me to be a guest speaker on local bats for his class.  What an amazing group of students!  With their new found knowledge the seniors were inspired to create their own power points to share; then took a trip to Culver Elementary School and visited Mrs. Dix’s first grade class.  Peer teaching is an amazing way to learn about how cool bats are.  This is the first of several times the two classes will work together.  Next, the first graders will visit Culver High School wood shop and build bat houses; which will ultimately be hung at The Cove Palisades State Park near the Crooked River Campground.


There are more than 1,000 different species of bats in the world, the only mammal capable of self flight; but these misunderstood and often feared creatures have been vilified by western cultures for hundreds of years.  Over seventy percent of bats are insectivores and save humans millions of dollars annually from crop damage,  prevent the unhealthy spread of  West Nile Virus, provide organic fertilizer for gardeners, pollinate plants that we depend on for medicine and so much more.  Central Oregon is home to thirteen species of bats, the most common is the Little Brown Bat (myotis lucifugus).  MYTH BUSTER:  Bats are blind? False – They actually see quite well and they use Ecolocation to find their prey.

As the students continue their journey, I will be sharing it with you.  Please follow along and visit the new bat area in the park late next spring.

The Beaver Moon

November’s full moon is known as the Beaver Moon.


According to the Farmer’s Almanac, Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names.

November was known as the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. According to National Geographic, it could also be attributed to the “heavy activity of beavers building their winter dams.”

It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

Comet ISON is coming!

Get ready to see an incredible night light.

A comet, an icy ball of solar system debris, is simply a “dirty snowball” hurtling through space.  As it heats up from the sun, gasses extend behind it; the comet’s body, called a “nucleus” appears to develop a tail, called a “coma.”  This is due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet.

Comet ISON was first discovered by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok in September 2012. The comet is officially designated C/2012 S1 (ISON), with ISON standing for International Scientific Optical Network.  It had a bit of a disappointing start but ISON is now visible to the naked eye and it appears to be getting brighter the closer it gets to the sun.  The peak is predicted for November 28th.  Will it be something else to be thankful for? ISON certainly has the potential to be “the comet of the century.”   According to the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, ISON is now shining at a magnitude +6.1.

photo: Peninsula Astronomical Society

NBC News Science REPORTS, “The comet is rapidly approaching its Nov. 28 perihelion and as a result it is becoming more and more difficult to observe low near the east-southeast horizon in the dawn sky. Still, observers with access to a clear horizon may be able to follow ISON for about another week.”

Next Monday morning (Nov. 18), ISON will be passing close to the bright 1st magnitude star Spica in Virgo. Using the handle of the Big Dipper, sweep an arc to the brilliant orange star Arcturus. Then continue that arc on to Spica. Using binoculars, ISON should still be readily be visible as a fuzzy star with a short tail. Good luck night sky watchers!

ISON path
photo:  Starry Skies Software