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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Eclipse edition 🌞🌘🌑🌒🌞

This is the web version of our email newsletter, Out There! Sign up to get our bi-weekly dose of all things environment — from creatures you might encounter on your next stroll, to a critical look at the state's energy transition, plus ways to take part in community science and a roundup of local outdoor events.

🌬️❄️ It’s Thursday, April 4. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • A plea from first responders
  • The state parks open for the eclipse
  • How to donate your eclipse glasses

But first,

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.

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A big natural experiment

A hand holds up a pair of dark glasses against a dark purple background. In the right lens, an orange spot appears.
Photo by Bruev (iStock)
/
Illustration by Sophie Stephens (Vermont Public)
There's plenty of ways to engage with the total solar eclipse next week, from simply watching it to helping NASA with some research.

Total solar eclipses are weird. Because they happen in different places, in different seasons, at different times of day, it’s tough to draw any consistent conclusions about how they affect life on Earth. Still, scientists can’t resist trying to better understand how the world responds when a few minutes of dusk occurs in the middle of the day. And if you want, you can help collect data to answer some of their questions:

👂Listen for animals and insects: NASA scientists are hoping to recreate a study first conducted back in 1932, when nearly 500 people observed about how animals responded to an eclipse – from crickets chirping to birds going silent and bees returning to their hives. You can participate Monday, or sign up to help analyze data in the coming months. Another community science group called SciStarter has a similar project asking people to record observations about animal behavior.

🌡️☁️ Record temperature and cloud cover: Download an app on your phone to record how clouds, temperatures, and winds change during the eclipse. In 2017, researchers found temperatures dropped by about 7 degrees, and in some places clouds disappeared as the land cooled during totality. You don’t need to be in the path of totality to participate.

📻 Ham Radio operator? NASA wants amateur operators to try to send and receive radio signals during the eclipse. That’s because an eclipse messes with the ionosphere – a layer of charged particles in the upper atmosphere that’s critical for long-distance AM and shortwave radio.

😎 Or not! If you’re able to just sit back, look up, and soak it in, total eclipses have been called life-changing. (But don’t forget the eye protection leading up to and after totality!)

In other (mostly eclipse) news

🌎 Donate your glasses: A group called Astronomers Without Borders is offering collections bins at the Montshire Museum in Norwich and through Chittenden Solid Waste District, at drop off centers in six towns, along with several locations in Burlington, Shelburne and Essex Junction. Astronomers Without Borders works to send those glasses all over the world for the next eclipse. Or you can hang on to them for 20 years, if you decide you want to travel to see the next total solar eclipse that passes across parts of North America in 2044 and 2045.

🛣️🥾 Where not to go during the eclipse: Several towns in the path of totality are closing roads to control traffic, limit mud-season damage, and create space for parking. Roads leading to Mount Mansfield in Underhill and to Camel’s Hump in Huntington will only be open to locals.

Meanwhile, trail managers and first responders are urging people not to go hiking, especially to high or remote areas. In a Facebook post, the Waterbury Backcountry Rescue Team wrote people going into the backcountry should “plan to be completely on your own for a great many hours and possibly days.”

🏞️ So where can you go? Several state parks in the path of totality will be open for viewing the eclipse, and while facilities will be closed, they’ll have parking and portable toilets. Here are the parks the state has said are okay to visit:

  • Boulder Beach in Groton (just on the edge of totality)
  • Crystal Lake in Barton 
  • DAR State Park in Addison
  • Elmore State Park
  • Mt. Philo in Charlotte
  • Grand Isle State Park
  • Knight Point in North Hero
  • Little River and Waterbury Center State Park in Waterbury
  • Niquette Bay in Colchester  

🌊 Preparing for the next flood: Lawmakers have proposed a statewide program to restrict new development in flood-prone river corridors. The policy also calls for Vermont regulators to manage for a net increase in wetlands and adds more accountability for private dam owners.

In your backyard

A drawing of a butterfly with dark brown wings lines with blue and yellow markings.
Laura Nakasaka
/
Vermont Public
These butterflies are often the earliest to emerge in spring because they overwinter as adults. To survive freezing temperatures, they produce certain proteins and sugars in their cells that act as antifreeze. Notes compiled from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and Mary Holland’s book Naturally Curious.

Get out there

🥽 Ski in a tutu: That’s one way to approach the end-of-season pond skim tradition at ski hills across the region. Skiers and snowboarders dress up, head to a hill, and try to glide across a man-made pool without getting too wet. Here are some of the mountains holding events:

  • Sugarbush:April 6 at 11 a.m. across a 120-foot pond at the base of Lincoln Peak. Sold out to compete.
  • Smugglers’ Notch: April 6 at 12 p.m. Registration will be first come, first serve, starting at 10 a.m. Free to participate. 
  • Burke Mountain: April 7 at 12 p.m. Registration opens at 10 a.m. $25 to participate.
  • Stratton Mountain: April 7 at 11 a.m. Sold out to participate.
  • Killington Resort: April 13 at 11 a.m. Sold out to participate.
  • Jay Peak: April 20 at 12 p.m. Registration will be first come, first serve starting at 10 a.m.$15 to participate. 

🌘 Still figuring out your eclipse plans? There’s a cookie decorating party in Island Pond, astropoetry readings in Burlington, a chance to make a pinhole eclipse viewer in Norwich, fire dancers in Stowe, a parade in Alburgh, and live music all over the place. Check out a round up of more than 40 events across the state from Friday, April 5 through Monday April 8.

🐸 Amphibians are starting to come out! Learn about the frogs, salamanders and turtles that rely on vernal pools to breed. The Vermont Land Trust is hosting an online presentation Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. with the herpetologist who coordinates the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and an ecologist to talk about how wetlands can be conserved. Free, but sign up in advance.

Enter your email to sign up for Out There
Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.

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Thank you for reading! Don’t hesitate to reach out, we'd love to hear from you. Just email us.

Credits: This week’s edition was put together by Lexi Krupp with editing from Kevin Trevellyan and lots of help from the Vermont Public team, including graphics by Laura Nakasaka and digital support from Sophie Stephens.

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