I can’t vouch for the rest of the planet, but the last few nights in North Texas have been nothing short of glorious. The temperatures are abnormally cool for this time of the year, and everyone is scurrying to get important things done before the thermometer goes from “nice and comfortable” to “swimming through pools of molten concrete”. (When General Phil Sheridan, former governor of Texas during Reconstruction, said “If I owned both Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell,” he was speaking for anybody and everybody who’s had to spend a summer in Austin.) And the nights? We get a short period where we can leave windows open at night, and that period is now running about three weeks longer than average.

One of the other joys involves last night’s and tonights full moons. Between a lack of atmospheric pollution and a relative lack of light pollution, last night’s moon wasn’t only bright enough to navigate by, but honestly almost bright enough to read by. Considering that Earth’s moon is one of the darkest bodies in the solar system (having about the same general color as cocoa powder), a full moon would be nearly intolerable if our moon had the same albedo as Ganymede or Enceladus.

Anyway. I’ll explain why later, but head out tonight and check out the moonlight tonight. Don’t just stare up and let the reflections off the Tycho crater burn holes in your retinas. Look around the garden a bit. If you have fireflies at this time of the year, pay attention to both their brightness and their flashing patterns. If other critters are up and around, pay attention to how they act and why. Most importantly, look at the plants themselves, and note which ones stand out the most in the full moonlight. There will be a test later, and it may involve scorpions.

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