Here in Philadelphia… the leaves are in brilliant fall colors. But I noticed something weeks ago. Maybe it was the 4 ½ hour drive to upstate New York. All along the drive from Philadelphia, Pa to the Finger Lakes region of New York, the leaves of trees and shrubs were dingy and dull. Dry, crispy leaves hung limp and lifeless from branches. I worried that this fall’s foliage display wouldn’t delight as usual. I needn’t have worried. A few weeks later the leaves lost their dull greens and showed the spectacular reds and glowing golds of autumn.
I realized I was rushing the natural order of things. The leaves must die first before the colors fade, the chlorophyll dissipates, and the underlying pigments show themselves. The period when the leaves look awful is just part of the cycle of the seasons. See Why Do Leaves Change Color? with a Video
I also noticed the New England Aster – Goldenrod blooming pattern comes during the time the leaves are dying. When the New England Asters and Goldenrods begin to fade, the tree leaves begin to turn their fall foliage colors. I also noticed the Goldenrods finished blooming before the Asters. And the Asters keep blooming and feeding the late season bees and flies.
Dying tree leaves ⇒ New England Aster and Goldenrods bloom ⇒ Asters and Goldenrods begin to fade ⇒ Trees leaves begin their fall foliage display. This is phenology and the turn of the wheel of the year.
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Did You Know?
Fungi Fairy Rings appear in lawns and fields in autumn? These rings are a network of underground filaments that spread out in a ring. The fungi emit enzymes which dissolve organic matter in the soil, which the fungi then feed upon. The ring consists of one organism which spreads out uniformly in all directions.
10.10 The Nature Handbook by Ernest H. Williams, Jr. , p. 196 (amazon.com affiliate link)
What to Observe Right Now – November 2023
Autumn lasts 89 days, 20 hours – Autumnal Equinox September 23rd to Winter Solstice December 21st
Seasonal Events to Watch and Nature Journaling Prompts This Month:
- Draw a diagram of the night sky. Focus on the the brightest stars.
- Find a Fairy ring. Look for these rings of mushrooms on lawns, fields, and woods.
- Look for Whitetail Deer Scrapes
- Look for ‘buck rubs’, areas on tree trunks
Some Past In Season Posts on [season] Events
Citizen Science Events to Participate In
- Christmas Bird Count is coming up around in December. Check for local events in your area.
In the Night Sky
Moon Phases: Moon names reflect what is going on locally. Choose a name that reflects your experiences where you live. The name Beaver Moon reflects beavers finishing up their preparations for winter’s cold. For me November is the Moon of Bare Trees.
- November 5th – Last Quarter Migrating Moon (Falling Leaves Moon, Hunter’s Moon)
- November 13th – New Bare Trees Moon (First Frost Moon, Beaver Moon)
- November 20th – First Quarter Bare Trees Moon
- November 27th – Full Bare Trees Moon
- New moon always rises near sunrise
- First Quarter rises near noon
- Full Moon always rises near sunset
- Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
- Last Quarter rises near midnight
- Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day
- The Moon rises in the east and sets in the west.
- Meteor Showers (“shooting stars”)
- Southern Taurids peak on November 5th to 6th
- Northern Taurids peak on the night of November 12th to 23th
- Leonids meteor shower peaks on the night of November 17th
Stars in the November 2023 Autumn Sky
- Venus is still the “morning star”.
- Orion is beginning to make an appearance in the southeast
- Pleiades will be 1.2 degrees north of the Moon on November 27th just after midnight (west of the “V” of Taurus)
- Hyades (open star cluster found in Taurus the Bull)
- Andromeda Galaxy is visible south of The W (Cassiopeia)
Star Patterns (Asterisms) in the Sky Now
- The Big Dipper (found in Ursa Major) – circumpolar stars
- The Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) – contains the North Star, circumpolar stars
- The W (Cassiopeia)
- The Northern Cross (found in Cygnus)
- The Lozenge (the head of Draco)
- Orion’s Belt (Orion)
- The Great Square of Pegasus (south of The W or Cassiopeia)
More about Star Patterns
Asterisms: Guide to Star Patterns in the Sky – Constellation Guide (constellation-guide.com)
Beginner’s Guide to Asterisms (milwaukeeastro.org)
Native American Star Names (WesternWashingtonUniversity.edu)
That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue next issue of the Nature Almanac at the end of November.