The butterfly house is open to the public. Please check in with the front desk in the museum and then head outside to see our free-flying butterflies and plants on display.
Currently flying: Monarchs, Spicebush Swallowtails, and Eastern Black Swallowtails.
This week's butterfly update: By September 15th we will be taking down the butterfly tent, storing some plants and mulching the rest in their planters. There are only a few weeks left, so make sure to stop in before this exhibit is dismantled for the season. A commonly asked question is, "What will happen to the butterflies in the tent?" Here is a list of what we will do with the remaining species:
Monarch: We will release the adults. We have a few caterpillars and chrysalides that are going to local preschools including our own Balch Nature Preschool. These will be raised and released by the first week of October at the latest.
Eastern Black Swallowtail: We will release the adults and only have a few chrysalides which will overwinter here at the museum. They will be released in late spring when they emerge.
Spicebush Swallowtail: Permit restrictions do not allow us to release these adults. They will instead finish out their lives our the next two weeks. They do overwinter as chrysalides and we have quite a few that will be kept here at the museum until next year's butterfly tent.
Currently, we do not have any Red Admirals, American Ladies, or Painted Ladies. They overwinter as adults in warmer places further south but did have a chance to live out their life cycle in the tent. These species go into reproductive diapause (stop laying eggs) as days get shorter.
Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar and Chrysalis Spicebush Caterpillar and Chrysalis
Three Monarch caterpillars
"Capturing Starlight: The Art and Science of Astrophotography”
Astrophotography is the photography of objects in space, using specialized equipment to capture light from faraway objects. Even with the use of a powerful telescope and long exposure times, technical post-processing is most often required to view celestial objects in their full grandeur. This process allows us to view interesting features in the universe in ways that our eyes cannot perceive on their own.
The images on exhibit were taken and processed by local high school students from St. Johnsbury Academy, White Mountain School, and from the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont on Astronomy, at the Northern Skies Observatory in Peacham, Vermont. The observatory is a state-of-the-art facility that is uniquely located to be free from interference by city lights or suburban light pollution.
Students used planetarium programs to identify and locate celestial objects including nebulas, or clouds of gases and dust that will eventually form stars and planets. Observatory educator Brad Vietje worked with students on the photographs included in the new museum exhibit. He explained that students took turns capturing images, which involved target selection, tracking celestial movements, using coordinate systems, operating the computer-controlled telescope, and using imaging software. “Once the monochrome images are captured, they then learn about astronomical image processing… Squeezing detail out of a set of almost black images, they combine three or more filtered grayscale images into a color composite.”
Although filtering images means that their colors might not display the same as they would to the naked eye, it allows for the creation of the most perceptible and informative view of an object in space, especially when multiple images are layered together. Just as a filter on a home camera changes the way light and color are viewed, filters such as “Hydrogen Alpha” and “Sulphur II” can make a nebula in space appear magnificent, even amongst the competing light from nearby stars.