If there is nothing new on the earth, still the traveler always has a resource in the skies. They are constantly turning a new page to view. The wind sets the types on this blue ground, and the inquiring may always read a new truth there. There are things there written with such fine and subtle tinctures, paler than the juice of limes, that to the diurnal eye they leave no trace, and only the chemistry of night reveals them.
— Henry David Thoreau
The Frolicking Fox Moon becomes more powerful the closer it comes to the end of the month, and on January 30, it reaches perigee (its powerful position closest to Earth) at 4:54 a.m. The next day at 8:26 a.m. that Moon is completely full, becoming a Blue Moon (the second full Moon in the same month) as well as a Supermoon – the second in 2018. Rising in the middle of the day and setting in the middle of the night, this Moon will pass overhead late in the evening. Although not quite as powerful as the New Year’s Moon, this lunar event is likely to negate any hope for a Groundhog Day thaw.
A total eclipse of the Moon will occur in the morning of the 31st, but it will only be completely visible in Hawaii, Alaska and western Canada. On the other hand, it will be partially visible at moonset throughout most of the continental United States.
The Sun: On January 31, the sun reaches one-fourth of its way to spring equinox. Now the days are over ten-hours long and the night is about three-quarters of an hour shorter than it was just five weeks ago.
The Planets: Jupiter and Mars are still the morning stars this week. Look for them in the southeast in Libra.
The Stars: The middle of the night this week not only features the second Supermoon and Blue Moon of the year, but it also shows off all the bright, imposing stars of Orion and Canis Major (with its huge light, Sirius) and Canis Minor (with its slightly less prominent star, Procyon)
The Shooting Stars: There are no major meteor showers this week.
Weather Trends: January 26 is the first full day of the season of Late Winter. This season contains five to six major cold fronts and lasts from January 26 through February 18. Although this period can be one of the coldest of the year in the North, its thaws accelerate the swelling of buds and the blooming of early bulbs.
The Natural Calendar: Cued by changes in last year’s flora, fresh growth often emerges on the Japanese honeysuckle, its leaves venturing out from the axils of the woody vines. In the garden, a few red nubs of peonies may have appeared. In the swamps, young poison hemlock is feathery and spreading. New ragwort and sweet rocket leaves are pushing up.
Fish, Game, Livestock and Birds: As January comes to a close, the season of cardinal mating song coincides with the season of robin and bluebird migration. Early arrival of Tundra Swans is possible now along the Lake Erie shore.
Fish throughout the cold of the night as the barometer drops before the January 30 cold front. The violence of the Supermoon front at January’s end may encourage movement in all animals and humans before the Moon turns full.
In the Field and Garden: There is no better time than January to force daffodils and tulips into bloom. If you don’t have any, go out and cut a pussy will branch, put it in some nice warm sugar water and then watch March appear.
Outside, snowdrops, some daffodils and hyacinths may be up about an inch in the warmest parts of county. Snow crocuses are sometimes two inches above the mulch, ready to bud. Henbit, bittercress and chickweed are slowly spreading across the garden.
Marketing Notes: After Mardi Gras (February 13) and Chinese New Year (February 16) comes Dominican Republic Independence Day on February 27. Inspired by these occasions, the demand for lamb, chicken and chevon may rise.
The Almanack Horoscope: Full Moon this week is expected to aggravate seasonal stress in many people. Healthcare personnel and public service workers can expect a higher-than-normal number of problems throughout the period. Although your spirits may be lagging, your asthma should have improved over the past weeks: Some research shows that, in spite of the arrival of pine tree pollen, January is the best month of the year for those afflicted with other kinds of allergies.
On a chart of January weather, Springfield lies along a line at which temperatures average 28 degrees Fahrenheit. That narrow belt of moderation reaches from Boston southwest across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado, snaking through the Rockies, ending up on the coast of Oregon and Washington.
To the north (except in the higher mountains), average temperatures drop approximately one degree every 30 or 40 miles until they reach the snowy zero of Lake of the Woods in Minnesota. South of Clark County, averages rise at about the same rate, until they reach 60 near Tampa, Florida.
Once in a while, the Ohio Valley reaches the depths of Minnesota or Montana winters. Springfield recorded 28 below on February 13, 1899, but that was the last year of such temperatures until 1984. Sometimes Florida highs in the 60s and 70s make their way into the region’s January records. Most of the time, however, Clark County is at the midpoint from which the seasons advance or recede in relatively even segments.
OTHER POOR WILL’S ALMANACK COLUMNS
Poor Will’s Almanack for 2018 is still available. Order yours from Amazon, or, for an autographed copy, order from www.poorwillsalmanack.com. You can also purchase Bill Felker’s new book of essays, “Home is the Prime Meridian,” from those websites.