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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Category — Blog

Comet Lovejoy Moves Close To Earth January 7th

Comet Lovejoy Moves Close To Earth January 7th

The New Year’s comet, Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, named for amateur Australian astronomer, Terry Lovejoy, is glowing green throughout January and can now be seen from latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere as it moves its close to Earth (at 43.6 million miles away). It should be visible starting Wednesday, January 7, 2015, with the best dark-sky viewing time from the end of twilight until moonrise.

While the comet is visible to the naked eye, you will still need binoculars or a telescope to view it, especially for those in well-lit areas, and you’ll need to know just where to look: Locate the constellation Orion in the sky — the comet’s path will be to the right of it. Click here to view the path the comet will take (Chart courtesy of SkyandTelescope.com).

Sky and Telescope reports, “although the comet begins to recede into the distance after the 7th, its intrinsic brightness should still be increasing a bit; it doesn’t reach perihelion [closest approach to the sun] until January 30th.”

During the next two weeks, the comet crosses Taurus, Aries, and Triangulum, rising higher in the early evening.

For more information and photos on Comet Lovejoy, visit SkyandTelescope.com. For more information about comets, click here.

Happy viewing, and let us know if you catch a glimpse of the comet!

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10 Things To Do In January

10 Things To Do In January

Now that the holidays are over, and we head into the thick of winter, you might be asking yourself, “now what?” Here’s a list of 10 things to do for the month of January that will not only keep you busy, but may even improve your mood! Try one, or all ten!

  1. Write thank you notes. It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, but if you buy yourself some beautiful notes and a nice pen, it can actually be a therapeutic task. Find a quiet spot and take a moment to thank those who made your holidays special this year.
  2. Visit a dog park. Even if you don’t own a dog, pick a sunny day (bundle up if it’s cold) and head to your local dog park. If you do own a dog, he’ll love it. Watching dogs frolic is very entertaining and doesn’t cost a dime.
  3. Buy yourself (or someone else) some flowers. The supermarket has small, inexpensive bouquets that can really brighten up your desk or someone else’s day.
  4. Visit your local library and get a library card. You may think in this digital age, you have no use for a library, but you’d be wrong. Your local library has a lot of great offerings: DVD rentals, books on tape/CD; you can borrow magazines, read the paper, use the computer — all to borrow free of charge. And all those books! They’re just waiting for you to check them out (when’s the last time you read a good book?) Ask the librarian for recommendations or check out their reading lists.  Also, check the notices board to see what fun events are going on.
  5. Take a cooking class. You can meet new people and learn a new signature dish to impress your friends.
  6. Take down your holiday decorations. Just do it. But feel free to keep the lights up.
  7. Toss everything in your fridge and pantry that expired in 2014. That includes vitamins and supplements.
  8. Delete shows you DVR’ed over the summer to make room for new shows you want to record this year.
  9. Ask your bank for a free check register and start keeping track of every dime you spend. Say “yes” to printed receipts at every checkout, and log your spending activities at the end of each day. Even if you don’t balance your checkbook each month, or even use checks anymore, this is a great way to start 2015 off on the right financial foot.
  10. Check with your town offices to see if they offer adult education programs. There’s usually something for everyone. Why not investigate a foreign language, take an art class, or learn a musical instrument? Some classes may even be free. Try something new and meet new people!

Share your ideas with us on how you plan to stay busy this winter.

 

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Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

As you ring in the new year at the stroke of midnight, you may find yourself singing that famous New Year’s anthem, Auld Lang Syne, written by Robert Burns back in the 1700s.

Even though we sing it, not many of us really know the lyrics or what they mean. The Scottish tune translates to, literally, “for old times’ sake,” and is about remembering friends from the past, and not letting them be forgotten.

Despite its association with New Year’s Eve, Auld Lang Syne was a song that had nothing to do with any holiday. It was Guy Lombardo who popularized the song when his band played it between programming during a live radio broadcast in New York in 1929.  The band played Auld Lang Syne right at the stroke of midnight, and a tradition was born.

So here are the lyrics to that famous song:

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We wish a very happy New Year to our friends from the past, and to new ones in the future, from all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac.

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Top Baby Names

Top Baby Names

According to the official web site of the Social Security Administration, the following names were most popular in 2013:

Male Name Female Name
1 Noah Sophia
2 Liam Emma
3 Jacob Olivia
4 Mason Isabella
5 William Ava
6 Ethan Mia
7 Michael Emily
8 Alexander Abigail
9 Jayden Madison
10 Daniel Elizabeth

 

Most popular names over the last 100 years (1914 – 2013): the male name Michael has held the top spot most often (44 times), while the female name Mary has been ranked number one 42 times over those years.

In 1914, these were the top 5 names:

Male Female
1 John Mary
2 William Helen
3 James Dorothy
4 Robert Margaret
5 Joseph Ruth

 

From the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, page 167.

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‘Tis The Season To Say Thank You

‘Tis The Season To Say Thank You

At this merry time of year, all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac would like to extend our well-wishes and appreciation to you, our web visitor and reader of the Farmers’ Almanac. While it’s sometimes hard to grasp how quickly time flies, it’s always good to find the time to thank the people who help make our publication and web site successful.

2015 marks the Farmers’ Almanac’s 198th edition! We are already planning on how to celebrate two centuries worth of publishing in a few years. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note or email, but plan on being part of a big celebration.

We hope that 2015 brings you much happiness, health, and prosperity and that you continue to find our site and publication helpful and useful.

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac

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Let It Snow!

Let It Snow!

After I took my first “header” last week (a scary misstep on a patch of ice in front of my apartment), I started thinking about my relationship with winter.

It’s important to note, for the sake of this story, is that I live in Maine, where weather is a hot topic. And around winter time (which officially starts on Sunday, 12/21), even more so. The local weather forecast is the lead story in each night’s news broadcast (above all other stories), and everyday conversations float toward the topic no matter what the season.

While winter is seemingly our longest season here in the Northeast, usually extending from early November to mid-March, you will not hear me complaining. It is true that you might hear me chime in with others who are complaining, with a standard, “Brrr, it’s cold!” or “oh no, is it really going to snow?” and a convincing look of worry, but the truth be told, I don’t mind winter one bit. I actually enjoy it. Even when I’m sprawled on the sidewalk, red with embarrassment, hoping no one saw anything.

When the Farmers’ Almanac called for lots of shovelry for this coming winter, I was thrilled. Not only do I enjoy cooler weather, but when the first snow flies, I mark it on my calendar. When the forecast calls for snow, I get goosebumps. I love how quiet and peaceful things become in a snowstorm, where the hustle and bustle of everyday activities seem to fade at the first hint of falling flakes. Do I like to drive in a snow or ice storm, you ask? No, I do not. I’ll get that right on the table. But in all fairness, I’m not a fan of driving through thunderstorms either.  Driving aside, when it snows, things seem to turn slightly magical, almost as if nothing bad can happen. Things that are dirty and ugly disappear under the blanket of white. The general mood of things changes, making it the perfect time for a book, a cup of hot cocoa, and a chance to hunker down with the kittens and my Slanket (basically a blanket with sleeves). And when I hear the sounds of the hard-working plow guys clearing paths in the distance, I feel a sense of comfort.

I also find that even if my vehicle gets stuck in that beautiful snow, all is not lost because inevitably, someone appears from out of nowhere to help. Your wheels can be spinning and wildy going nowhere, when suddenly, reassuring voices and strong hands are pushing you to freedom.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of your neighbors has even shoveled your walkway or dusted off your windshield, too. The Good Samaritans and Guardian Angels seem to appear when it’s snowing. It seems to gently bring out the good in people.

And of course Christmas, the holiday of goodwill and cheer, is my favorite of them all, in part, because of snow.

So, let it snow, I say.  But you might want to check back with me in March to see how I’m holding up.

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The Farmers’ Almanac Holiday Gift Of Ideas

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The Fifty States and Their Nicknames

The Fifty States and Their Nicknames

Here’s a list of the fifty states and the nickname associated with each. Do you think your state has a fitting moniker? If not, what would you change it to?

Alabama – Yellowhammer State
Alaska – The Last Frontier
Arizona – The Grand Canyon State
Arkansas – The Natural State
California – The Golden State
Colorado – The Centennial State
Connecticut – The Constitution State
Delaware – The First State
Florida – The Sunshine State
Georgia – The Peach State
Hawaii – The Aloha State
Idaho – The Gem State
Illinois – The Prairie State
Indiana – The Hoosier State
Iowa – The Hawkeye State
Kansas – The Sunflower State
Kentucky – The Bluegrass State
Louisiana – The Pelican State
Maine – The Pine Tree State
Maryland – The Old Line State
Massachusetts – The Bay State
Michigan – The Great Lakes State
Minnesota – The North Star State
Mississippi – The Magnolia State
Missouri – The Show Me State
Montana – The Treasure State
Nebraska – The Cornhusker State
Nevada – The Silver State
New Hampshire – The Granite State
New Jersey – The Garden State
New Mexico – The Land of Enchantment
New York – The Empire State
North Carolina – The Tar Heel State
North Dakota – The Peace Garden State
Ohio – The Buckeye State
Oklahoma – The Sooner State
Oregon – The Beaver State
Pennsylvania – The Keystone State
Rhode Island – The Ocean State
South Carolina – The Palmetto State
South Dakota – Mount Rushmore State
Tennessee – The Volunteer State
Texas – The Lone Star State
Utah – The Beehive State
Vermont – The Green Mountain State
Virginia – The Old Dominion State
Washington – The Evergreen State
West Virginia – The Mountain State
Wisconsin – The Badger State
Wyoming – The Equality State or The Cowboy State

 

Make it a game! This is also a great list with which to quiz your kids, friends and other family members!

 

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Towns That Make You Hungry

Towns That Make You Hungry

Did you ever wonder why your town’s name is what it is? Some towns are named after people, others for their landscape and some after food!  The following towns have some tasty names that might make you hungry:

  • Apples not only keep the doctors away but they also make for great town names. There’s an Apple Orchard, Virginia, Appleton, Minnesota, Appleton, Wisconsin, and an Appleyard, Washington.
  • For those with a sweet tooth, you may want to visit or live in Sugar Grove, Arkansas, Sugar City, Colorado & Idaho, Sugartown, Louisiana, or Cocoa Beach, Florida!
  • For more sour taste buds, there’s Lemmon, South Dakota, Lemon Grove, California, or Lime Village, Alaska.
  • For breakfast fans, Oatmeal, Texas, Two Egg, Florida, and Coffee, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are the places to be!
  • Pennsylvania is a tasty state. It boasts cities by the names of Cooksburg, Feasterville, and Bakers Summit.
  • In Europe, there’s a city in Italy named Bologna, and a Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany! These food names actually derived from these city names!
  • Alaska has quite a few appetizing towns, including Chicken, and Clam Gulch!
  • In Alabama, there is a little town named Burnt Corn. Legend has it that Indians used to store their corn in this town until enemies came and burned down the village as well as all of the corn.
  • Did you know that there is a Cucumber, West Virginia? Some believe this name was chosen for its many magnolia trees, known to many as “cucumber trees” as they bear fruits that look similar to cucumbers.
  • Fruitdale, Oregon, and Fruitland, Maryland are also two popular towns as are Orange, New Jersey, Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Peach Creek, West Virginia.
  • Buttermilk, Kansas, Bourbon, Indiana, Tomato, Arkansas, Cranberry, Maryland, and Spuds, Florida are also tantalizing cities to visit!
  • And for dessert, there’s Strawberry Point, Iowa, Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, or Strawberry Point, California!
  • And then there’s Muttonville, Michigan!

Do you know of another town with a food name? Tell us in the comments below!

The above article appeared in the 1995 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.