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Even at their best, we can never see the full face of Mercury or Venus

While winter has just begun, we’re already in the process of reclaiming daylight, and Saturday marks a milestone when the sun sets at 5:00. Over the next month, the sun sets roughly one minute later each day. That same Saturday, daybreak arrives at 7:25, but alas, through January, it will come just a few minutes earlier each week. 

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Good — and sometimes great — fishing in a cleaner Bay

One of America’s wryest philosophers, Yogi Berra, once noted that predictions were difficult to make, especially about the future. Despite his sage warning, I feel compelled to make some Tidewater prophecies for the New Year. 

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While Old Sol is seven percent stronger this week, it’s unlikely you’ll need to break out the sunscreen

While we commonly mark the first week of January as the commencement of the new year, it also marks two significant milestones in the passage of the earth’s journey around the sun.

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Over winter, the most innocuous fouling turns into hardened deposits

This year Old Man Winter arrived with an especially frigid blast. Closing the rockfish season almost two weeks early for most of us, the 20-degree nighttime temperatures have since turned our tributaries to ice, denying even pickerel anglers their bitter weather pleasures.

 

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The Great Winter Circle beckons you to come outdoors

With solstice behind us, we’re in the full throes of winter. Long nights with little or no humidity make for great star-watching, even as the cold saps the desire to stay outside. As if to further lure us into the conundrum, winter skies are alight with some of the brightest stars in the heavens, contained within the Great Winter Circle and all neatly gathered in a ring surrounding the familiar figure of Orion.

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Why some oaks hold their leaves

Some oak trees retain their brown leaves all winter long, while others drop their leaves like all other trees. The reason is juvenility. It takes 25 to 30 years for an oak seedling to mature. Until it starts to produce acorns, the tree is in a juvenile state of growth and retains brown leaves all winter. As the oak approaches maturity, the ends of the branches near the top of the tree drop their leaves in the fall....

Plus official counts you can join

It is hard to remember a transformation such as we just had, when the season seemed to change suddenly, with the decisiveness of a no-nonsense business executive. November was pleasant and mild, warm but not unseasonable, with enough rain and cold to bring out the sweaters and not fool us into thinking we had all been transplanted to Georgia.

Then December came along and it was winter. The calendar might haves said not quite yet, but the thermometer said Now!

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Oh the things you can see!

In the cathedral of the forests, the mysteries and magic of Mother Nature come alive. 

Through the soaring pillars of trees, rising in arching canopies, streams of sunlight reflect on the forest floor. In cathedrals of nature and of faith, we are awed in the presence of harmony.

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Your evergreens will get a good pruning while you clip and snap

The tradition of bringing greens indoors comes from Europe and Scandinavia. The winters were long, and bringing greens in the house gave hope that spring would soon be coming. It must have worked, as we still do it today.

If your evergreens are overgrown, now is the time to prune them back into shape and use the greens for decorations. Don’t be afraid to take the pruners and whack those evergreens.

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Gifts to bring the heavens into focus

While the day of commercial space flight has yet to dawn, a few choice astronomy-related gifts are enough to open up the heavens for anyone on your gift list. Who knows? You could be giving someone the start of a lifelong hobby or even a career.

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