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The heavenly bull’s glare

As darkness settles, the bright glow of Jupiter pierces the east-southeast horizon, by far the brightest light in the sky, as the moon spends this week waning through pre-dawn skies. The gaseous giant is high in the south at midnight, and as dawn nears, it sets beneath the western horizon.

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Don’t welcome them!

If you thought the Japanese beetles (aka ladybugs) were bad last year, get ready for worse this fall, when invading stinkbugs join the Japanese beetles. This is the worst year I have ever witnessed for stinkbugs.

Stinkbugs are harmless to humans and pets, but they are a nuisance and difficult to control. They derive their name from the foul odor they release when you squeeze the abdomen. It reminds me of smelly dirty socks with a slightly sweet odor. 

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If at first you don’t succeed … try something different

Sundown was only a half-hour away as I steered my skiff toward another deserted shoreline. Well out, I switched over to my electric trolling motor and eased into casting range. My target was a rip forming over the nearest of a number of mostly submerged stone jetties jutting sharply out from the shoreline. 

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Despite heavy winds, I landed a largemouth bass, a bluegill and a pickerel

Most folks know that a grand slam is baseball’s term for a home run with the bases loaded. Angling has its own slam. A Chesapeake Bay slam is landing a rockfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel on the same day. The freshwater version is typically a largemouth bass, a pickerel and a bluegill. 

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The sun’s lost ground is the skywatcher’s gain

 

As if to hammer another nail into summer’s coffin, the sun this week sets before 7:00. The darkening sky reveals Venus tight above the southwest horizon, and while the evening star is brilliant at magnitude –4, it, too, is fleeting and sets shortly after the sun.

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It’s a complex balance that holds together the web of life

 

It was late summer in the coastal plain forest. At mid-day, it was quiet but not quite silent. There was a background buzz of flies, then the whine of a mosquito in my left ear. Swat! Then I heard a sound like water coming from the trees.

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The sun’s lost ground is the skywatcher’s gain

 

As if to hammer another nail into summer’s coffin, the sun this week sets before 7:00. The darkening sky reveals Venus tight above the southwest horizon, and while the evening star is brilliant at magnitude –4, it, too, is fleeting and sets shortly after the sun.

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Following a few simple rules, you can grow a mighty oak from a tiny acorn

 

A master gardener recently asked me how to germinate acorns because she had repeated failures. To be successful, collect the acorns soon after they have fallen from the tree. Never collect acorns that have caps still attached because those acorns are most likely empty. Only solid, firm acorns that have fallen from the tree without caps should be collected. A healthy, well-developed acorn is one that has separated from its cap while still attached to the tree.

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With the autumnal equinox, that footwear comes to life

Labor Day has come and gone, but the celestial clock still reads summer. While our days are still longer than our nights, we have lost two hours 45 minutes of sunlight over the past three months. After this week, the hours of darkness each day will trump those of light.

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In the shift to shallow water, tackle makes the difference

Live-lining small Norfolk spot remains the surest bet for a limit of striped bass on the Chesapeake. But light-tackle lure fishing grows more exciting as our waters cools with September’s chillier weather, when striped bass behavior changes.

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