I Say Hedgehog, You Say Groundhog, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!

By STEPHANIE HYLINSKI

One of the hardest parts of being a zookeeper is saying goodbye to the animals in your care. The Live Animals Department at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery was saddened by the unexpected death of our groundhog, Rosie, in October of 2016. Rosie died due to complications from old age, as she was at least six years old. Groundhogs typically live 6-8 years under human care.

Rosie came to the Boonshoft Museum from the Wildlife Center of Minnesota in November of 2011. She had been found in the road running in circles and was taken to the Wildlife Center for rehabilitation. Rosie was not able to be released into the wild because of a head injury, so the Boonshoft Museum became her permanent home. Rosie was a wonderful ambassador for her species and an excellent weather forecaster. She predicted the weather at Groundhog Day for five years, and she was almost never wrong!

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                 Rosie the Groundhog

After the passing of Rosie, we realized that we would need to find a replacement very soon, as Groundhog Day was only a few months away. Rosie, and groundhogs in general, can be very lazy in a zoo setting, especially during the wintertime when they normally hibernate. Because we only have so much space in the Discovery Zoo, the Live Animals Department staff decided that another animal would better engage and educate our visitors. Instead of doing Groundhog Day in 2017, we were going to do Hedgehog Day! A hedgehog would not need as much space as a groundhog, and a hedgehog could also be an ambassador animal. Our ambassador animals travel to schools, senior centers, and other places around the community to educate people about animals, and give them a chance to meet the animals up close.

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                Quilliam the Hedgehog   

Now you may be thinking, “Hedgehog Day? Are you guys crazy?” Maybe! But Hedgehog Day has actually been around longer than Groundhog Day! Hedgehog Day began in the Roman Empire when folks considered the weather on Candlemas to predict future weather. Candlemas is a Christian holiday on February 2, and the saying goes:

“If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
Winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain
Winter is gone and will not come again.”

Legend has it that the Romans believed that conditions during the first days of February were good predictors of future weather, and they looked to hedgehogs for their forecasts. These two traditions melded in Germany and were brought over to the United States by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Lacking hedgehogs, the German settlers substituted with native groundhogs, and Groundhog Day was born. Unlike modern Groundhog Day, the Romans watched to see if the hedgehog saw its shadow at night. This makes sense since hedgehogs are nocturnal!

We’re very excited for visitors to meet our four-toed hedgehog, Quilliam, on Groundhog Hedgehog Day! Come to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, to see if Quilliam predicts an early spring!

Delightful Stocking Stuffers at Discoveries Gift Shop

The Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop is the perfect place for doing your upcoming holiday shopping. We all share that person or two on our list who are just hard to shop for. You rack your brain, time and time again, with little success as you search for playful, educational Stocking Stuffers. What the doctor ordered is a shopping trip to the fun and unique gift shop at the Boonshoft Museum.

The Discoveries Gift Shop offers special, one-of-a-kind gifts designed to entertain and

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Dino Transporter Truck

challenge young minds at the same time. Your young Einsteins could be playing with Carded Science Kits, Boxed Arrowheads and Shark Teeth, and reading books that make them think. Discoveries Gift Shop carries books about lots of scientific topics. Have a son or daughter who is curious about robots? How about that nerdy young mad-scientist with a thing for chemistry, destined to turn your house into a smoking ash heap?

 

At the top of this year’s under $10 Stocking Stuffers list sits the Ty-Beanie Babies, Beanie Boos, and Teeny Ty’s, as well as Carded Science Kits and a variety of die-cast toys, including a Dino Transporter Truck. The Pocket Volcano, Tornado Tube, and Lemon Clock are all bargains at $4.99; but you just HAVE to sample the Astronaut Ice Cream (yes, it is a thing!); and we really don’t want to forget the Jumbo Dino Hatch Egg.

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Hand Warmer Mugs

For the adult geeks in the mix, choose from among gifts under $15, like the charming Hand Warmer Mugs that come left or right-handed, Birthstone Soap Bars (betcha didn’t see that one coming!), a Fox Mug, and Salt and Pepper Shakers. There’s the Woodpecker Stapler, a cute Otter Tape Dispenser, and some quirky, colorful socks. The socks are adorned with images of either a Tyrannosaurus-Rex, or our beautiful planet Earth, or a selection of many other designs that I’ll bet you won’t find anywhere else!

Discoveries Gift Shop has lots of items of interest for explorers of all ages. If you still can’t decide, purchase a gift card and let those fussy folks choose their own gifts.

If any of these Stocking Stuffer gift ideas sound like winners to you, the Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop is where you need to be this holiday season. Also, don’t forget to let us know you are a member to take advantage of your 10% to 20% discount! The Boonshoft Museum’s Discoveries Gift Shop will be closed as always on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Deck the Halls! Plan Your Holiday Get-Together at the Boonshoft Museum

When the temperature outside falls like the leaves on the trees, we’re reminded of the coming holiday season. If there must be cold weather, we’re at least blessed with a bit of holiday respite. Those days when families get together to share good times in a spirit of fun and enjoyment. When you think about planning that special family or company get-together, consider having your unique event at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

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Private events can make the most of Museum space to create a great atmosphere for guests.

The Museum makes a wonderful place to celebrate the holidays, and is the perfect locale for party animals of all ages. There’s no venue quite like it for an unforgettable, festive occasion. Imagine being surrounded by the mysteries of the universe, or dinosaurs that roamed the earth millions of years ago. Whether it’s family get-togethers, company Christmas parties, Kwanzaa or New Year celebrations, enjoy access to select areas of the Museum – or why not just book the total facility for your holiday celebration!

Book by November 28 (Cyber Monday) to hold that preferred date on your calendar. Special rates are available for holiday season rentals. To check out what you can save, contact Jodi Rettig, Manager, Sales and Rentals, at (937) 275-7431 x 113.

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With select rental packages, Museum guests can enjoy planetarium programs, Science On a Sphere® demonstrations, and live animal programs that actually encourage you to touch the animals. Get up-close and personal in the Tidal Pool with a leather sea star, chitons, and even the beautifully-colored sea anemonies. There’s private space in the Bieser Discovery Center for groups of up to 40 guests, or if you’re planning a larger bash, the Museum can accommodate up to 1000 of your closest friends! We’re also happy to recommend our preferred caterers, experienced at endowing Museum affairs with delicious flair. Imagine how fun and enlightening your event will be with our spectacular Museum exhibits, programs, and demonstrations as part of your memorable holiday affair.

Careers In Curiosity: To Infinity and Beyond!

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Jason Heaton, Assistant Director of Astronomy

What was your childhood dream job? Ballerina? Fire Fighter? Marine Biologist? Everyone is different, but it is certainly a rarity to be so inspired by something that you make it your life’s work. Jason Heaton, the Museum’s Assistant Director of Astronomy, visited the Boonshoft Museum as a little boy and fell in love with the possibilities that the night sky provided.

For this month’s Careers In Curiosity post, our guest blogger and Planetarium expert extraordinaire, Jason, will talk a little bit about running a Planetarium, teaching children and adults about our Solar System, and much more. Check out his blog below:

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In 2003 I had the chance to meet Neil Armstrong

Hello, Nice To Meet You

My name is Jason Heaton and I am the Assistant Director of Astronomy at the Dayton Society of Natural History. The Astronomy department at the Boonshoft houses an observatory, a planetarium, and astronomy related exhibits.

How I Started in Astronomy

My career in astronomy began at the Boonshoft when I was a child. My parents enrolled me in the Boonshoft summer programs for many years. I

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The NASA sponsored Exoplanets exhibit, produced by the Boonshoft Astronomy Department

loved archaeology, paleontology, and the activities at SunWatch, but the planetarium was by far my favorite. An energetic and hilarious planetarium director named Art Goss inspired me and fueled my love for the night sky.

In school, science classes were my favorite. I went to college at the University of Dayton, enrolling in Aerospace Engineering. I began working in the planetarium as a part time job while I was in school.  During that time, I fell in love with astronomical visualization…making

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A planetarium audience rides an Ice Slide set on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

the stars come to life in the planetarium. I graduated U.D. with a degree in Computer Animation. I have been working for the Museum ever since, for more than twenty years now.

The Best Part of Working in the Astronomy Department

We do many different things in our department. We build astronomy exhibits such as the Exoplanet exhibit which recently opened. We house the Apollo Observatory, a large telescope open for free to the public on clear Friday nights. We have many different types of events that happen in the planetarium, people have proposed marriage, live bands have played, and astronauts have lectured. We have created planetarium shows and astronomical visualizations that have been shown around the world.  However, my favorite thing about working in the astronomy department is presenting the live shows about the night sky in the Dome.

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Speaking of magic, the planetarium is also one of the main stages for Harry Potter Camp, where I play Professor Starbuck, the Hogwarts summer school astronomy teacher.

Someone once said that as people we all have one thing in common…we all look up at the stars at some point in our lives and wonder. The planetarium is a unique place. When I was a child, it was magical.  People come to our planetarium to learn about the sky and experience that same feeling of wonder and magic.

As a presenter, I have witnessed the same feeling of magic in the eyes of children coming to the star shows. They will often come back after the show and ask a million questions, it becomes obvious that they will leave the museum loving the stars the same way I have.

Future Generations

You never know who is going to come into the planetarium and become a future astronaut or astronomer. The first person on Mars may be someone who is in school right now. The astronomers who find the first Earth-like planet; the mission specialist onboard a future space station; the scientists that will help us get back to the Moon; all of these people have one thing in common: someone, or something, inspired them and their love of the night sky, perhaps in a planetarium like ours.

5 Things You Should Know About the Super-Blood-Harvest Moon Total Lunar Eclipse this Sunday!

The countdown to the Super-Blood-Harvest Moon total Lunar Eclipse is winding down and many people can’t wait to see what the sky has to offer on September 27-28. Knowing that we won’t see another Supermoon Blood moon until 2033, this lunar occurrence is pretty special and a pretty spooktacular way to kick off fall and the official start to the Halloween season.

Before you join your friends and family for some Supermoon fun, find the 5 Must-Knows about the Supermoon—then, check out some of the urban legends and history behind the moon below.

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Credit: Space.com

Why is a Supermoon so super?

Our staff at the Museum think our Moon is pretty super every day of the year, but in this case, we are talking about a lunar occurrence that in the modern day has been named “the Supermoon”. We think Mega Moon sounds better because it’s alliterative, but hey, we can’t be picky when it comes to our favorite moon in the galaxy.

A Supermoon occurs when a full moon is closest to the Earth on its elliptical orbit. This results in the moon looking slightly larger in the sky to people on Earth. The technical name for a Supermoon is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun System, but Supermoon seems easier to pronounce, right?

Just how rare is a Supermoon? On average, every 14th full moon is a Supermoon.

eclipse_total_espanek_10-27-2004-e1358526755212What gives the moon that red tinge, famously deemed a “Blood Moon?”

Interestingly enough, a Blood Moon is not a term that astronomers commonly use. Expanding on that, actually calling something a “Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse” is redundant. Why? Because what gives the moon a red tinge is actually the total lunar eclipse itself!

Here’s why: During a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow slowly moves across the Moon’s face, which appears dark. However, when the Earth’s shadow completely covers the Moon, it suddenly looks like is has been painted entirely red.

This actually has a lot to do with how sunlight moves through our atmosphere. Sunlight is composed of a range of frequencies, many of which are filtered out, but the least affected on the light spectrum is reddish in color. When this red-tinged light enters our atmosphere it is refracted (bent) towards the surface and again on the other side of the Earth. This double refraction sends the reddish light onto the Moon’s face during a total lunar eclipse—and then boom! Blood Moon (which is actually just a total lunar eclipse).

BloodMoon34What happens during a total lunar eclipse?

Much like Peter Pan had a rascally shadow, everything, including the Earth, does too. A Lunar Eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly into the Earth’s shadow. Because they are aligned, you will see a total Lunar Eclipse. Of course, this can only happen when the moon is full.

What, in fact, is a Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is a name for the moon with no astronomical significance, and has a lot to do with the changing of the seasons. We just celebrated the autumnal equinox, making it officially fall. The Harvest Moon is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox, which also happens to be the same evening as the total Lunar Eclipse.

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Click on the image to learn more. Credit: Space.com

Will I be able to see the Super-Blood-Harvest Moon Total Lunar Eclipse where I live?

The short answer? Maybe. The good news is that half the planet will be able to watch this spectacular moon display, however, not if you live in an area that happens to have bad weather that evening.

Of course, as with most of our Friday night observing in the Apollo Observatory, everything in the sky is, “weather permitting”. If there are thick rain clouds around where you live, you are not in luck! However, if it’s a clear night and you live in the Western Hemisphere, especially in America and Western Europe, you will be able to witness the Supermoon eclipse in all its glory.

The partial eclipse begins at 9:07 PM EDT Sunday night, the total eclipse (blood moon) is from 10:11 to 11:23 PM, and the partial eclipse ends at 12:27 AM.  The partial eclipse can be described as when the Moon is partly in and partly out of the shadow, and will look white with a bite taken out of it.

West-Coasters: Unfortunately, the first partial stage of the eclipse will already be occurring when the moon rises as the sun sets. However, you’ll still be able to see catch the best parts on Sunday!

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Credit: HowStuffWorks.com

Fun Facts and Myth-Busts:

  • The term “Blood Moon” was originally a religious term coined by a Christian pastor.
  • The moon is made out of cheese? I think we all know that is entirely false. However, this was a popular fable in 16th and 17th century English literature.
  • Why do wolves howl at the moon? If you see this happen, it’s entirely coincidental. Researchers have found no correlation between the moon and howling canines. However, because wolves are nocturnal they are more likely to be vocal at night.
  • The first full moon after the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon because many crops ripen during the late summer/early fall. Before electricity, farmers would tend to their crops by the light of this full moon.

7 Back To School Tips For Transitioning Smoothly Into the School Year

Back to school—the three least exciting words for students across the country who have spent their summer having a blast outside, in the pool, or at a summer camp. While some parents may be rejoicing because the school routine is somewhat simpler than entertaining children all day for an entire summer, the transition from summer to school can be quite the challenge.

Kids are used to sleeping in, they’re nervous about school, YOU’RE nervous about school, did your little one finish their summer reading assignments? It’s a lot, right? Well, here are 7 tips (backed by science, of course) that will make you student’s transition back to school as seamless as possible.

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1) Introduce an earlier bed timeSleepingChild

Bed time can be a battle, especially when kids are used to staying up later during the summer. Starting an adjusted sleep schedule that will mirror the one your child will have to stick to during the school year, before school actually starts is always a good idea.

Children between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a sleep, but experts agree most need 10-11 each night. Lack of sleep can affect a child’s mood, ability to concentrate and think clearly, and researchers believe too little sleep can affect your little one’s growth and their immune system—which keeps their bodies from getting sick.

The best way to ease into bed time is with calming activities that establish a routine, like bath time or reading.

2) Turn off the tech.
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Credit: telegraph.co.uk

This may not be a problem for children who don’t have access to mobile devices or televisions in their rooms, but because our society is so plugged in—this is worth mentioning (for adults and kids!).

Studies have shown that short wavelength enriched light – also known as the blue light that is emitted from e-readers, tablets, laptops, smart phones, and flat screen televisions – can disrupt sleeping patterns and deprive your children (and you!) of restful sleep. So, put down your gadgets at least two hours before bed time!

3) Breakfast time.
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Credit: ohsu.edu

While everyone should eat breakfast each day, this especially rings true for children. Growing bodies and developing brains need regular refueling from healthy foods. Studies have shown that children and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school, and eat healthier throughout the day. Without breakfast parents and teachers could potentially be dealing with irritable, restless, and tired students! Click here to find a delicious, kid-friendly, protein-packed breakfast recipe so your kiddo wont get the “tummy grumbles” before lunch!

4) First day of school? Head out early!

Parents with young children who may be nervous about the first day of school and have a laundry list of forms to turn in should consider an early start. This way, a longer goodbye won’t affect your schedule and you will know before the bell rings if you are missing any integral things your child needs for their first day.

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Credit: shesorganized.com

5) What About the Little Ones?

AmelieaFor parents with children who are new to preschool or kindergarten, there can be a ton of complicated emotions involved with the first day of school. Children may be excited, but trepidatious, just like their parents! When we asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Museum’s Preschool, for her top tips when dealing with the first day of school drop off she made two great points.

First, don’t linger. You may want to give just one more hug and your child may be teary-eyed, but the longer you linger the stronger the impression you are giving your child that you are hesitant about the environment you are leaving them in. Children are incredibly intuitive when it comes to emotions; if your child senses you are nervous, that will make them nervous for you to leave.

Second, tell the truth. Giving your child the “who, what, when, where, and why” of their school day, from drop off to pick up, will put them at ease. Of course, your little one might not be able to read a clock, but if they know you are picking them up at the bus stop at 3:30 p.m. and you will have apple slices in-hand to munch on, they will be calmed by your confidence and certainty of how their day will play out.

6) Book Nooks and Homework Zones
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Credit: apartmenttherapy.com

Designating a quite area and time for homework will enable you to ensure that your child is studying in a learning-conducive environment where they can get the most out of their studying. Because reading is also important, you and your child can craft your way to creating a fun, comfy, and quiet reading area.

More and more classrooms are incorporating quiet, designated reading areas into their space that creates a calm environment that encourages reading. If you want to add a “Book Nook” to your child’s room or common area, you can DIY it by reading this article.

7) Establish a Routine

By adding your own personal parenting flair to the tips above, you are probably a pro at transitioning your child into their first semester of school, but it doesn’t stop there! All of these steps, from bed time and breakfast to homework will create a routine that will enable your child to flourish in school, in their extracurricular, and at home.

Establishing a routine creates a sense of security, especially for young children and keeps slightly older children on task.

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Credit: greatschools.org

Do you have any additional parenting tips? Share them in the comments below! From the Boonshoft Museum to all of you fantastic grown-ups and kiddos, have a great 2015-2016 school year!

6 Tips and Tricks You Need To Know To Become a Star Gazing Pro!

Stop what you are doing immediately. If you are indoors, on a computer just take a break and go outside, if you are on a mobile device enjoying the great outdoors simply look up. What do you see? Pristine sky, a gorgeous sunset, a mysteriously shaped cloud that looks vaguely similar to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (of Ghostbusters fame)? We digress—often, we take the awe-inspiring vastness of our sky and space for granted. In the grand scheme of things we are pretty small, so it’s easy to not think about the limitlessness of space and just how special our Solar System is.

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If you really want to know how small you are, check out the video above!

From a giant amber Harvest Moon to Halley’s Comet, our night sky holds dozens of beautiful displays of science and physics. One of the things most commonly appreciated by the public are meteor showers, so we asked Joe, Astronomy Department member, resident astrophysicist, and (now) guest blogger, to give us some tips and tricks on which meteor showers are best and how we can see them with the naked eye.

Click below to read Joe’s Guest Blog.

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