Nature's Wonders
January 31, 2018

On Wednesday morning, most Americans who live west of Kentucky will be able to see a rare trifecta of lunar treats dubbed the Super Blue Blood Moon. The last time a supermoon happened to be a blue moon — the second full moon in a month — during a total lunar eclipse (the "blood" part refers the the moon's red tint during an eclipse) was 150 years ago. You can see here when the lunar triple play hits your area, but if you live in or east of Kentucky, it's cloudy, or you just don't want to get out of bed, NASA is live-streaming the Super Blue Blood Moon from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET. You can watch at the NASA TV site or below. Peter Weber

January 3, 2017

If they're lucky and happen to tune in at the right time, dedicated viewers of the Southwest Florida Eagle Camera will witness firsthand the miracle of birth.

Since October 2012, Dick Pritchett Real Estate in Fort Myers, Florida, has provided a 24/7 livestream of a nest belonging to a bald eagle named Harriet and her partners, Ozzie (who died in 2015) and M15 (she bonded with him after Ozzie's death). More than 16 million viewers have been enthralled by the escapades taking place in the nest, and on Saturday, thousands watched as Harriet and M15 welcomed their newest eaglet, E9. There's one more egg that could hatch at any second, and fans of the feathered family continue to watch from home, hoping to catch the eaglet's arrival.

While Dick Pritchett Real Estate is happy to provide the livestream, the company said on its website that's as far as they will go: "Eagles are wild birds, and anything can happen in the wild. The Southwest Florida Eagle Camera does not interfere or intervene and allows nature to take its course. You will see life and you might see death, but this is nature at her finest." Catherine Garcia

December 20, 2016

It's a bone-chilling -18 degrees Fahrenheit in Churchill, Manitoba, where the northern lights are making a dazzling display in the sky. For those not up to braving such temperatures, a single camera is bringing the natural phenomenon to viewers around the world.

Tuesday is the best forecast of the year for auroras borealis, and Explore.org is broadcasting live footage through the night. Charles Annenberg Weingarten, founder of Explore.org, said seeing the northern lights is part of "a universal bucket list for all of us," and through the website, people can watch "in the comfort of your home with your extended family."

The sun has several magnetic fields, and when they become knotted together, they create sunspots. When particles of plasma escape into space, it takes about 40 hours for that solar wind to reach Earth, Space.com explains, and once the particles arrive, they are drawn to the magnetic south and north poles. The gorgeous lights of the aurora borealis are caused by the particles passing through the Earth's magnetic shield and mixing with atoms and molecules of oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. Visit Explore.org to take in this beautiful sight. Catherine Garcia

September 7, 2016

Yosemite National Park has grown by 400 acres, officials announced Wednesday, the largest expansion in close to seven decades.

Ackerson Meadow, along the western boundary of the California park, is surrounded by pine trees and is a habitat for the endangered great gray owl. The area was purchased from private owners for $2.3 million and donated to the park by a nonprofit group. The meadow was actually part of the park's original plans from 1890, the Yosemite Conservancy's president said, and has historically been used for cattle grazing and logging.

The former owner of the land, Robin Wainwright, told The Associated Press to have the area "accessible by everyone, to me, is just a great thing." Yosemite covers almost 750,000 acres, and welcomes millions of visitors a year. Catherine Garcia

August 26, 2016

In 2006, President George W. Bush created a national marine sanctuary off the coast of Hawaii, and on Friday, President Obama is more than quadrupling its size, to 582,578 square miles, from 139,800, making the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument more than 50 times larger than the Hawaiian Islands themselves and the largest protected area on Earth. The expanded designation will put the biologically rich and diverse waters under protection of the Endangered Species Act, prohibiting commercial fishing and drilling, but allowing recreational fishing and traditional Hawaiian activity with a permit.

The area was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2010, and Matt Rand at the Pew Charitable Trusts says the Papahānaumokuākea (pronounced "Papa-ha-now-mow-koo-ah-kay-ah") marine sanctuary will "offer a glimpse of what our planet was like before the impacts of human activity, and it is critical that we preserve places in this way, both as a window to the past and for future generations.” Longline fishing businesses opposed the expansion, though federal officials put the amount of commercial fishing displaced by the new protections at just 5 percent.

Obama will visit the area next week, addressing Pacific Island leaders and conservation conferences in Hawaii then visiting the expanded monument at Midway Atoll, before heading off to China for a Group of 20 summit. Only Congress can create a national park, but presidents can unilaterally declare national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, and and Obama has so far designated more than 548 million acres of federal lands and water, more than double the amount protected by any of his predecessors. Peter Weber

July 6, 2016

If you can't afford a plane ticket to Alaska, or would rather experience the great outdoors from the comfort of your couch, you can now visit Explore.org and watch one of several Bear Cams set up at Katmai National Park. The cameras are streaming 24/7 — giving you the opportunity to enjoy all of the wonder of nature without the threat of being mauled — and are in multiple locations; after spending some time viewing a bevy of brown bears salmon fishing at the majestic Brooks Falls, you can easily switch to the Naknek River or Dumpling Mountain cams for more wildlife action. With so many incredible things happening on the live feed, it's easy to get sucked in, so don't watch if you have somewhere you need to be in the next 48 hours or so. Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2016

Tropical Storm Colin made landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast on Monday night, but by early Tuesday the storm had already passed over northern Florida and southern Georgia and was heading into the Atlantic. The storm dumped 3-6 inches of rain overnight, and forecasters said continued precipitation from Colin could dump 8 inches on the Atlantic coasts of Florida through the Carolinas on Tuesday, with tornadoes also possible. Some 10,000 people lost power in Florida Monday night, and Gov. Rick Scott (R) declared a state of emergency. Scott told The Associated Press that no major damage has been reported, but that officials are being vigilant about flooding. Peter Weber

March 20, 2016

Sightings of false killer whales are rare enough off the coast of Southern California, and on Saturday, a few lucky boat passengers were able to witness a once in a lifetime event: The birth of a calf.

A pod of 40 false killer whales — cousins of the better-known orcas — started to swim next to a catamaran operated by Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari, and a few began to push against the port side of the boat. "There was a sudden burst of blood and the newborn calf popped out," the company said in a statement. Several whales surrounded the calf, and spent at least 10 minutes pushing it to the surface of the water as it learned how to swim, Capt. Tom Southern said.

False killer whales are normally found in warmer waters, and aren't often spotted near California; Southern said the last time he saw one was in 2014 and before that, it had been nearly a decade, KTLA reports. Southern said he has never witnessed anything like that on the water, and a member of the crew told him it was "his most emotional moment on the ocean ever." Catherine Garcia

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