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Lyra the harp has star upon star hidden amid its strings

As the sun dips toward the horizon around 8:30, Venus burns through the haze of twilight low in the west. By 9pm this evening star dominates the heavens, shining at magnitude –3.8 about 10 degrees above the skyline. With a clear view below Venus and perhaps binoculars, you may be able to spot Mercury tight against the horizon within a half-hour of sunset.
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Extremely powerful for short distances, rockfish run out fast

We waited patiently for the tide to turn. It took longer than the current charts predicted, but our wait was worthwhile. The boat swung a bit more earnestly at anchor. Then a rod tip began to dance.
    The first slight tickle turned into more pronounced tugs as something below mouthed the chunk of menhaden. I gently retrieved my rod from its holder, slipped off the clicker to reduce line resistance and lightly thumbed the spool.

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Supermoon comes just days after summer solstice

Thursday, June 20, is Midsummer’s Night, the shortest night of the year, with barely nine hours of darkness. Then, at 1:04am Friday, the sun reaches its northernmost position above the earth, marking the astronomical beginning of summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere. It is our longest day, with more than 14 hours 54 minutes of sunlight.
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I hunted 14 species of game birds; a lion hunted me

When a herd of zebras loomed up in the sweep of our headlights, I began to believe I was in Africa.
    As we’d landed at Johannesburg Airport after dark and loaded up for the two-hour drive to our lodge at Kroonstad, those zebra were my first sight of the wild Africa I’d come for.
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It’s not big plants you’re after

Last fall I met a Bay Weekly reader who had perfected the art of growing big tomato plants. Without testing the soil in his 1,500-square-foot garden, he spread half of a bag of 10-10-10, about 20 pounds. While planting his tomatoes, he added a handful of urea fertilizer, which contains 46 percent nitrogen. He used the same planting method for peppers.
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Father’s Day celebrations often revolve around cooking out.
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The strained relationship of Cepheus and his daughter Andromeda

When we look to the night sky for father figures, we’re hard-pressed. There are heroes and rogues, serpents and dragons, birds and beasts, fish and fishermen, harps and chariots. But there is only one father among the constellations, and not a good role model at that.
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Croaker in the cooler makes for good eating at the table

My young sons were doing their best to emulate my actions as we drifted bloodworms over a hard shell bottom in a gently moving tide that June evening. My one-ounce sinker sent a tic-tic-tic flicking up the line on my light casting outfit. The rod tip was twitching right in rhythm.
    Harrison’s rod suddenly arched. He struggled to keep the rod from being pulled over the side while avoiding the hard gunnel.

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It’s a lesson for life

Children learn so much about life from working in the garden. Watching a seed germinate and develop into a plant, then watching that plant develop and produce flowers, fruits and more seeds teaches them the cycle of life. Sowing seeds of different crops and watching them develop into different shapes, flowers, fruits and vegetables teaches them that variability is as common in plants as it is in humans.
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Three planets toy with the sun

This week boasts the earliest sunrises of the year, when old Sol crests the horizon at 5:41am. We’re still a couple weeks from solstice, the overall longest day of the year, and the latest sunset won’t come for another two weeks after that. Why? Several reasons, including earth’s not-quite-spherical shape, its elliptical orbit around the sun and the varying point of high noon across the globe.
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