I heard the first bear was spotted at Yellowstone! Does the length or severity of the winter change the hibernation length, especially for bears?

Answered by Gregg Losinski – ESER Education Specialist and Human/Bear Conflict Expert Hibernation is a fascinating adaptation that many animals use to survive when harsh extremes are part of their environment. We think of hibernation in relation to cold, but there is a parallel process called estivation that occurs during very hot temperatures and allows…

“I heard something really unusual was supposed to happen with Jupiter and Saturn right before Christmas. What?”

Answered by Brian Tonks – BYU-I daho Astronomy Professor The ancients noticed that seven celestial objects move relative to the stars: the Sun, the Moon, and the five visible planets (the word “planet” comes from the Greeks meaning “wanderer”—the Greeks knew them as wandering stars). Astrologers attributed special meaning to these objects. It is clear…

How did the full moons get their names?

Question Answered by Alana Jensen, INL ESER Program For thousands of years, people in Europe, as well as the North American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the changing seasons and nature. Many of these names are very similar. Most of the Native names came from tribes called the Algonquian people (not…

We have heard so much about the solar eclipse that will occur in Idaho next August. The news article we read talked about the path of totality. What does that mean?

Question Answered by Dr. Brian Tonks, Astronomy Professor, BYU-Idaho On 21 August, 2016, Southeastern Idaho and many other places in the United States are in for a rare treat. We will experience a total Solar eclipse. This means that the Moon will pass directly in front of the Sun and cast its shadow on the…

Is there anywhere on Earth high enough in elevation that you can see through the thin air into the blackness of space?

Question answered by Dr. Brian Tonks, Astronomy Professor, BYU-Idaho The highest point on Earth is the peak of Mt. Everest, 29,029 feet (8850 meters) above sea level. At this elevation, the atmosphere is thin compared to at sea level. Pictures taken from the top of Everest on a clear day distinctly show that the sky…