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The interloper visits Spica and Mercury

Mercury is putting on its best pre-dawn show of 2013, more than doubling in brightness this week, from +1 magnitude to –0.5 (each order of magnitude is exponential, so an increase from +1 to 0 is a doubling). Monday marks the innermost planet’s greatest elongation — its farthest point away from the sun as seen from earth and its highest point above the horizon. Mercury rises a little before 6am and climbs nearly 15 degrees above the southeast horizon before the sun rises more than an hour later. Ten degrees above Mercury is blue-white Spica, but even this first-magnitude star pales compared to Mercury this week.
    First discovered last September, Comet ISON is heading into the inner solar system for the first time, coming within 700,000 miles of the sun November 27. If the comet survives that close encounter, it could live up to the comet of the century billing. If not, the next two weeks are your best chance to spot this long-distance traveler.
    With binoculars or a small telescope, look for ISON one degree to the west of Spica Sunday before dawn and less than one-half degree to the east of the star the next morning. By next Thursday and Friday, ISON will be within 10 degrees of Mercury — well within your binoculars’ field of view. Perhaps by then it will be bright enough to see with the unaided eye.
    Sunday marks the full moon, the Beaver Moon and the Frost Moon according to lore. The full moon floats just six degrees below the miniature dipper-shape of the Pleiades star cluster, while Monday night it is even closer to Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus the bull.
    The full moon’s glow washes out all but the brightest meteors in this year’s Leonid shower, which peaks between the 16th and 18th. Still, the Leonids are active through the month, so patience or luck will likely reward you with a few of these shooting stars.

You’re never too young to garden

As a child in west central Florida, I was lucky to have a father and grandmother who were into plants. Dad introduced me to the bottlebrush shrub that lived beside our neighbor’s constructed pond. The sharp scent of its leaves, its fuzzy, flouncy red flowers and the way its seedpods all clustered together like rock candy on a stick fascinated me.
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One online link to 180 Anne Arundel charities

For 24 hours — from 6pm May 5 to 6pm May 6 — the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County will host the Great Give 2015. The Great Give is an online fundraising event created to raise awareness and generate mission-critical funds for 180 local charitable causes.
    Last year, the Great Give raised $675,467 in a day, allowing local nonprofits to continue to provide valuable services to our community.
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Run the Freedom Hill People Steeplechase, Kids Canter or Toddler Trot

Horses give humans a lift at Freedom Hill Horse Rescue in Calvert County.
    In species pairings called Equine Assisted Learning, people learn leadership, goal-setting and teamwork.
    In Equine-Based Education, people learn about horses, their proper care and treatment, natural horsemanship and the basics of horseback riding.
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Here’s how they played in 1993

At the Galesville Hot Sox reunion game on Saturday, April 25, you’ll see baseball at its best, as community sport and social.
    That’s what Bay Weekly founders Sandra Martin and Bill Lambrecht saw on a summer’s day in 1993:

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The Bay in the Balance

Snapshots from Earth Day 2015

Bay Weekly celebrates 22 years this week. On April 22, Earth Day 1993, we appeared as the Paper Committed to the Chesapeake.
    Like so many, Bay Weekly’s founding family was drawn to Chesapeake Bay. But all of us together exert tremendous pressure on this place we love.
    How are we doing in finding a sustainable balance?
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Oysterman hauls up archaeological treasure

A big jug was not what waterman Simon Dean of Solomons was expecting to haul up from the bottom of the Patuxent River in his oyster tongs. As a committed young waterman in partnership with wife Rachel to work the water and — with a new venture, Solomons Island Heritage Tours — introduce visitors to the estuarine experience, Dean knows his Chesapeake.
    But nothing had prepared him to harvest a botija.
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The Cake’s on Us

And ads are half-price

After you’ve filled up on the substance of this week’s issue, you’ll be ready for dessert. We’re serving cake to top off the celebration of our 22nd birthday on Thursday, April 23.
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How a 60-something heart-attack survivor found fitness and friendship riding with the Fab Brew Crew

About 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon, I pulled into the nearly empty parking lot of the Inn at Pirates Cove in Galesville.
    Where was everyone?
    I had expected the place to be teeming with cyclists.
    Had I come to the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong day? Confusion joined doubts that had been growing since I decided to check out the cycling group I heard of from friend John Hoffman.
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Senator Ben Cardin wants a system that’s fair and easy to understand

Everybody hates taxes, yet we want more and more services from government.
    Trying to balance those two forces, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin wants to change our entire tax system, which he regards as out of whack, not to mention unfair.
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