Skip to content

Think About the Environment this Holiday Season: Holiday tips from EPA’s Regional Administrator

2014 December 18

By Judith Enck

Holiday themed LED lights are a great compromise

Holiday themed LED lights are a great compromise

When I was a kid, growing up in Greene County New York, my beloved father won contests for the large number of lights that he put on our house. I would note that entire power plants had to run in order to keep the Enck family house illuminated, so I’m now doing my penance with LED lights. There really is no excuse to double your electric bill or blow your budget around the holidays, so here are my tips for a more environmentally friendly season.

  • Remember to support local businesses whenever possible
  • Consider a small live indoor tree or plant that can serve as a holiday tree to be decorated year after year.
  • If you opt for a real tree, be sure to compost it after the season is over.
  • Decorate with LED lights and colorful reusable ornaments that don’t require electricity such as (reusable) ribbons.
  • Reuse wrapping paper or use old comics to wrap gifts.
  • Try not to buy unnecessary consumer products. Give experiences instead like tickets to plays or concerts as a way to spend time together.
  • Hosting a big event? Remember to stick to reusable plates and glasses to cut down on unnecessary waste.
  • Plan ahead for meals and parties so you don’t buy more than you need.
  • More tips here.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Best wishes for a wonderful and sustainable holiday season and a very green new year!

This post was originally published to Greening the Apple during the 2011 holiday season.

About the author: Judith Enck is EPA’s Regional Administrator of and a native New Yorker who currently resides in Brooklyn.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

A is for Ant:  Keeping Ants Out of the Classroom (Part 2)

2014 December 11
Close-up of ant feeding.

Close-up of ant feeding.

By Marcia Anderson

The Benefits of Ants in classrooms. Ants have been observed and documented as good examples for humans for their hard work and cooperation since the dawn of history. Lessons abound in literature, such as: The Ant and the Grasshopper, one of Aesop’s Fables and they are in Hopi mythology. More recent literature includes: A Tramp Abroad, by Mark Twain, Departmental by Robert Frost, The Once and Future King by T.H. White and H.G. Wells’ The Empire of the Ants.

Kids easily relate to ants, just think about all of the 3-D animated films that have been produced: Antz, A Bug’s Life, The Ant and the Aardvark and Atom ant. Can you recall playing the award winning video game Sim Ant in the early 1990s? Many other games and science fiction insectoids have followed since. However, other than in literature, history, mathematics and art, ants are best kept outdoors.

In an earlier blog, I presented information on keeping ants out of the classroom schools and the importance of a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach for their management known as Integrated Pest Management or IPM.  Here are some additional tactics to round out a good ant IPM plan:

Sanitation. Sanitation eliminates the food that ants need to survive. Get rid of their food and you get rid of the ant problem. If children regularly receive meals in classrooms, those floors should be vacuumed and/or mopped daily. Make sure that all sinks are drained and clean by the end of the day. Periodically give all food preparation areas an all-inclusive cleaning, focusing on areas where grease and food debris accumulate. These include drains, vents, stoves, and hard-to-reach areas behind or between appliances. At the end of each day, remove all garbage containing food from the building.

Ants follow pheromone trails and reinforce them as they walk.

Ants follow pheromone trails and reinforce them as they walk.

Proper Food Storage. An ant infestation may indicate a need to change current methods of storing food or food waste. All food should be kept in the refrigerator or stored in pest-proof containers with lids that close tightly. As soon as food arrives in the building transfer it into clear plastic or glass containers. Do not leave food in cardboard boxes and paper as they are not ant or roach-proof. Outdoor refuse containers should be emptied and washed regularly and recyclables should be cleaned before storage.

How are ants able to follow one another around?  They leave pheromone trails as they walk and each ant reinforces the trail as they head back to the colony with food.  Detergent and water is an easy and safe way to eliminate this trail and the ant followers. When ants invade a classroom or food preparation area, an emergency treatment is detergent and water in a spray bottle. This mixture will quickly erase the trail and immobilize the ants. They can be wiped up with a sponge and washed down the drain.

For tougher problems, where non-chemical methods haven’t solved the problem, integrating ant baits, traps or other low-impact pesticides into your management program may be warranted. For information on ant control in schools go to: http://www.sites.ext.vt.edu/schoolipm/ipmtechniques/documents/ants.pdf .

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Sparking an Interest in Science

2014 December 4

 By Jim Ferretti

Jim Kurtenbach from EPA demonstrates collection of stream water quality parameters.

Jim Kurtenbach from EPA demonstrates collection of stream water quality parameters.

In its 19th year, the Green Horizons Conference on Careers in Natural Resources and the Environment for Middle Schools is an annual event that introduces middle school students to careers in science. Green Horizons is part of the Environmental Education Advisory Council of New York City. The Green Horizons Conference is rotated among the five boroughs of New York City and includes environmentally diverse locations such as Central Park, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden and Queens Botanical Garden. This year the event was held on October 16, 2014 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island.

A total of 163 students from various middle schools throughout Staten Island had the opportunity to select two science disciplines from over 19 stations established throughout the Snug Harbor complex in areas ranging from land planning, composting, entomology, natural resource restoration, and plant propagation. There were over 50 professionals and educators involved in this year’s outdoor conference. Nancy Wolf from the Magnolia Tree Earth Center of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc. is the coordinator for this program and touts many benefits for the kids, but the overriding one is the opportunity to introduce young people to all of the different types of careers in science. All of the stations were geared towards hands-on demonstrations and applications of a diverse collection of science and natural resource topics.

EPA employees participated this year with a station on water quality and a stream insect community demonstration which included hands-on measurement of basic water quality parameters and the ability to identify aquatic insects (and an American eel) obtained from sampling a stream at Snug Harbor (eventually flows into the Kill Van Kull). The students were amazed at this complex ecosystem right below the rocks of a small wadeable stream.

About the Author: Jim Ferretti is a team leader for the Sanitary Chemistry and Biology Team for the Laboratory Branch in the EPA’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment. He has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and a BS Degree in Water Analysis Technology from California University of PA. Jim has a diversified background in environmental studies and biological laboratory testing. He has been employed at the EPA since 1990, starting out in the water program in headquarters and moving to New Jersey in 1992.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

School Parties, Holiday Crafts… and ants? (A is for Ants-Part 1)

2014 November 20

By Marcia Anderson

 A is for Ant

A is for Ant

Remember the ant marching song: “…The ants go marching two by two hurrah, hurrah…” The ants are lining up to enter classrooms around the country, eagerly following our children. Why? Why are ants the most common insects found in schools? Ants do not attend class for the math lesson. They could care less about multiplication, dividends or square roots. The dividends they are looking for are the crumbs students have dropped or left in their desks. With the holidays around the corner, many schools celebrate with food and special treats. If ants cannot find food, they will march on to, perhaps the kitchen or other classrooms.

It is important to recognize that most ants can be both beneficial and pests. Most ants are not a serious threat to human health or property, with the exception of carpenter ants (or fire ants in southern states). Ants provide an important ecological cleansing and fertilization service by aerating the soil outdoors and recycling dead animal and vegetable material. Ants also kill numerous pest insects, including fly larvae, termites, fleas, and caterpillars. Ants become pests when they invade school buildings searching for food and water to take back to their nests.

Before taking any action against an invading ant, be sure there is more than one ant present. Just one may have hitchhiked in on food packaging, clothing, or a backpack that had been placed on the ground for a while outside. Multiple worker ants (those without wings) suggest a nearby nest and an entrance hole. Take a few minutes to watch the ants. Where are they going? Where did they come from?

Did you know that there are approximately over a quadrillion ants alive in the world at any one time, or about one million ants for every human on earth? So it is neither desirable nor practical to try to eliminate most ants from their outside habitat.

 Ants feeding.

Ants feeding.

Ant control. Management efforts should aim at keeping them out of structures as part of a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Ant control should focus on excluding ants from the building, good sanitation, and building maintenance rather than routine spraying with pesticides, which may not always be effective. Ant management requires continuous effort.

Inspection and Detection. Often it takes detective work and ingenuity to discover where ants are coming from. When you spot large numbers of ants in a trail, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building. Carry a good flashlight. Take good notes during your inspection and record problem areas, entry locations and areas needing repair. If a nest is found inside, it must be removed. Call your IPM coordinator or a pest management professional for help. To do it yourself, use an industrial vacuum,  and vacuum up some cornstarch to prevent ants from escaping, then seal and destroy the vacuumed material.

Habitat modification: Exclusion. By carefully sealing places where ants enter, you will make a long-term impact on the number of ant invasions. Begin with sealing actual and potential entryways – especially where wires and pipes enter the building, then weather-strip around doors and windows. Always carry a tube of sealant when making inspections and seal as many cracks as time allows, especially those around baseboards, pipes, sinks, toilets, and electrical outlets. Silicone sealant is flexible, easy to apply, and long-lasting. Keep plants and mulch away from the foundation of buildings as they provide ant nesting sites.

For more information on ant control in schools go to: http://www.sites.ext.vt.edu/schoolipm/ipmtechniques/documents/ants.pdf and look for more information in a future blog.

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Rise Higher

2014 November 12

By Meghan La Reau

Scrambling toward the finish line.

Scrambling toward the finish line.

My brother recently started an active outdoor lifestyle company. Its mission is to return fitness back to its outdoor roots and their philosophy is “nothing compares to the authentic challenges provided by Mother Nature.”  It’s much more than just a race, rather it’s an experience from camping to fireside speakers to promoting environmental stewardship.

O2X, the company, has an environmental stewardship plan that pledges to leave each mountain as well or better than when they arrived. Their post-‐race remediation plan is critical, and begins with responsible course design – to not disturb the mountain. The plan also includes leaving no wrappers, water bottles or trash on the course – “pack in, pack out.” O2X  encourages everyone to bring reusable water bottles with plenty of water stations to refill, providing only compostable paper products, and collecting donations of old running shoes to be recycled. As an EPA Waste Wise partner, they are striving for zero waste events. All waste was sorted into compostable and recycled containers. O2X reduced its carbon footprint by providing solar panels to recharge phones, promoting carpooling to the event, and requesting all applications be submitted online to reduce paper use. The company also sources all food and beverages for each event locally.

I had to support my brother in his new endeavor so I registered for a race!

The challenge I signed up for is an off-trail mountain race traversing natural obstacles up a mountain, in this case, Windham Ski Resort in New York. The race was four miles experiencing a

The team pauses for a photo during a water break halfway to the top.

The team pauses for a photo during a water break halfway to the top.

net elevation gain of 1,350 feet. The race at Windham went from Base Camp in front of the Windham Base Lodge, journeying through winding switchbacks crossing first on to East Peak, then on and off trail and through rugged natural terrain. The Finish Line, atop West Peak Summit, overlooks the awesome view of East Peak, Windham Mountain Village, Hudson Valley and the Catskills.

While working and raising three kids, I tried to train as well as I could. Training included road running and running up the stairs at 290 Broadway, EPA’s New York City offices. However, nothing I did prepared me for this adventure. We ran up rock outcrops, crawled through caves of rock, and climbed up nearly vertical ski slopes. All the leaves had fallen and it rained for the previous three days making conditions very slick. Thank goodness for the three water stops! One hour and 31 minutes later, at an elevation of 3,035 feet, we reached the summit! Never had I experienced such a challenging race. Sign me up for the next one!

 

About the Author: Meghan La Reau is an Environmental Scientist in EPA’s RCRA Compliance Branch for the past 16 years conducting enforcement of hazardous waste facilities and solid waste landfills. Meghan enjoys indoor activities such as wine making and outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and attending sporting events. Meghan holds a B.S in Environmental Resource Management from Penn State University and a Masters in Environmental Science from NJIT.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Citizen Science in our Region

2014 November 6

By Patricia Sheridan

EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, kicks off a Citizen Science Workshop.

EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, kicks off a Citizen Science Workshop.

Citizen Science. Two words that worked their way into the EPA Region 2 vernacular in 2009. Highlighted by the massive explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation (CAPECO) oil storage facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico leading the community downwind to actively conduct air monitoring in their neighborhood; and the grassroots community-led air monitoring effort in Western New York using a bucket brigade to successfully champion an enforcement action to reduce benzene emissions at the Tonawanda Coke Corporation, citizen science found a home. Citizen Science became one of the Regional Administrator’s top priorities in 2010 to help engage and empower communities to collect their own data and advocate for their own health concerns.

Shortly after, the EPA established a regional Citizen Science Workgroup to drive this effort. Informational interviews were conducted with community groups, environmental justice groups, non-governmental organizations and academia to identify community needs and concerns setting the stage for the inaugural EPA Citizen Science Workshops held in the New York City and New Jersey regional offices in June 2012.

Feedback from the workshops focused on two areas: having citizen science data taken seriously while providing tools to do so, and funding opportunities. The region hosted an EPA MyEnvironment (GIS-based tool) webinar in early March 2013. This was followed by a quality assurance training seminar series on producing credible data held in the regional offices and Buffalo, New York in late spring. As an outgrowth of the workshops, regional grants and national funding sources were identified and secured to support state volunteer monitoring efforts. This was highlighted by four community organizations, two in New York and two in New Jersey, being awarded grants in 2013. The projects involved using sampling equipment loaned from EPA to monitor pathogens and water quality on tributaries of the NY/NJ Harbor.

The region continued its outreach throughout the remainder of the year creating the Region 2 Citizen Science Website to aid community groups and citizen scientists. In 2014, EPA turned its focus to bringing the Citizen Science Program to its territorial and academic partners in the Caribbean where resources are limited and often insufficient to address the immense health and environmental needs of the area. Partnering with EPA’s Caribbean Science Consortium, a two-day workshop was held in late summer at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus. The workshop brought EPA experts, government, academia and community groups to discuss current science activities in the Caribbean, and explore how communities can seek solutions to environmental and public health issues.

The EPA Regional Citizen Science Program welcomes our citizen scientists in an effort to better understand and protect our environment. By involving the community and providing the tools to increase the quality of the data collected and assist in its interpretation, we can work together to achieve our common goals. The key to the success of any and all Citizen Science projects lies in the effective and open communication and coordination between all partners.

About the Author:  Pat currently serves as the citizen science coordinator in Region 2, and has been with EPA Region 2’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment as an Environmental Scientist in the Superfund and Brownfields Program for over 26 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Crushed Couch on Broadway

2014 November 3

By Linda Longo

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

The other morning just outside my EPA office building at 290 Broadway in Manhattan on my way to get my morning coffee I saw a perfectly good couch being crushed by a solid waste truck. I wondered why someone would not want that couch. Then on my way back from coffee I saw the same solid waste workers crushing perfectly good office chairs, the kind with wheels and adjustable seating! I don’t need a new office chair and I don’t need a blue couch, but there’s got to be someone in New York City that does.

I had a long conversation with the solid waste worker (I regret not asking his name) and he told me this stuff is nothing compared to what he crushes in other, wealthier neighborhoods, like leather couches and oak tables and fine china. Seriously? Now I didn’t get the sense he was pulling my leg because I’ve seen good stuff out on the curbs with the piles of garbage too often. It’s commonplace in NYC maybe because we have small apartments or we get a better one or it has a rip or it just doesn’t fit out needs. I’ve tried to donate good items and it’s actually harder than you think. Places that sell used items only want things that are not ripped or stained. And my solid waste friend said he even crushes items from these stores on a regular basis because if they don’t sell it, then eventually they need to get rid of it, hence call the solid waste truck guy, and crush it, and pile it up in a landfill.

I wish I had the time and wherewithal to buy a big truck and follow my friend around to save the good items from being crushed. I’d have a big warehouse to store these items too and it’d be open 24 hours a day for anyone to come and take for free. I’d even have a free delivery service – because I know that’s always an issue in NYC too – many of us don’t have cars. If you have a similar reaction, here are a few websites for getting rid of unwanted items:

Reuse Marketplace

Build It Green NYC

About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past seven years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

When the Moon Hits Your Eye…Like a Big Pizza Pie

2014 October 29
Local taste testers agree – NYC has some of the best pizza around.

Local taste testers agree – NYC has some of the best pizza around.

By Jennifer May-Reddy

New Yorkers are spoiled by pizza of the finest quality (and bagels for that matter too)!

What sets our pizza apart from the rest?  I found myself thinking about this as I “split a pie” with my husband and three kids last weekend.  One theory is that our stellar New York City tap water has something to do with it.  I asked the owner of a local pizza joint and he told me that he does use water straight from the tap with no additional filters when making his fresh pizza dough every day.

So what role does clean water play in good pizza making?  Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg used to refer to the City’s drinking water as the “champagne of water.” Our water comes from a combination of reservoirs and lakes in a watershed located just north and west of New York City. The water is regularly monitored and tested, but everyday residents like you and me can play a part in making sure the quality of our water remains high. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s web site states that, “Each person can help these systems run better by conserving water, disposing of garbage and household chemicals properly and being concerned about water quality in the City’s surrounding waters.”

So do your part New Yorkers!  If our waters get polluted, any pollutants can carry downstream.  And who wants to put the taste of our legendary pizza at risk?  In addition to much more serious problems!

EPA is doing its part to protect the quality of our pizza by working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on an action to help safeguard our nation’s waters and public health.  The initiative is called Waters of the US and you can learn more about it and comment on the proposal at www.epa.gov/uswaters.

So, the next time you bite into a delicious NY slice, remember the one-of-a-kind clean drinking water that helped make your pizza so yummy.  Ciao!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Bronx Zoo Memories

2014 October 20
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

By Elias Rodriguez

October memories bring me to declare a few words in commemoration of our just retired Yankees team captain, reliable #2, Derek Jeter.  Babe Ruth was #3. Baseball season will soon be over and a new champion will be crowned. Our region is distinct and one source of pride is that we are home to the winningest team in professional baseball history. Sadly, for my beloved New York Yankees, the season is already over given their uncharacteristically poor hitting and anemic pitching this year. Ever optimistic, perhaps we will add to our 27 World Series championships next year?

I am not sure what El Capitán’s stance is on the environment, but he certainly warmed the earth with his obvious love for the game and changed the climate in professional sports with his on and off the field goodwill. There is no real need to review Jeter’s illustrious career but for the unfamiliar: on his way to helping the team win five championships, he was also named Rookie of Year in 1996, Sports Illustrated’s 2009 Sportsman of the Year, a five time winner of the Golden Glove (which you do not get for dropping the ball) and winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given each year to the league player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Yep, our shortstop only played on one team during his career and he was a paragon in pinstripes. We lovingly refer to Yankee Stadium as the Bronx Zoo for its spectacular atmosphere and wild incidents.

Of course, becoming a world renowned competitor does not signify that you are an inherently positive role model. Yet, according to most accounts, Jeter leaves behind a legacy of professionalism, hard work and earned the respect of peers and fans alike.

We will sorely miss the Bronx Bomber. What legacy will you produce? Each of us can contribute to a better world and healthier environment. Switch to clean energy. Use less energy. Watch your water use. Reduce waste. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to bat in a run or score a point for planet Earth!

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Eclipse-Mania!

2014 October 16
The October 8, 2014 total lunar eclipse.

The October 8, 2014 total lunar eclipse.

By Jim Haklar

I love eclipses. I mean, I really love eclipses! I love eclipses so much that two years ago, I flew to Albuquerque for the weekend to see a solar eclipse. But more about that later…

An eclipse happens when the Earth, Moon and Sun all line up. Technically, this is called syzygy (try to form that word in a game of Scrabble).  A lunar eclipse happens when the earth is between the Moon and the Sun. When the Moon is between the Sun and the Earth you get a solar eclipse. Lunar eclipses happen when the Moon is full and solar eclipses occur when the Moon is new. So, why don’t we have an eclipse twice a month? Well, the Moon’s orbit is tilted by a little over five degrees. So most of the time there isn’t perfect alignment and you don’t have syzygy.

From any given location on the Earth, lunar eclipses are more frequently seen than solar eclipses. That’s because the Earth casts a bigger shadow on the Moon than the Moon does on the Earth. The shadows consist of two parts. There is a smaller, darker umbra surrounded by the lighter penumbra. If you are in a location where the Moon’s umbra passes through, you will see a total solar eclipse. Otherwise the solar eclipse will be partial (since you will be in the penumbra). For lunar eclipses, the situation is a little different. The Moon can completely or partially pass through the Earth’s umbra (resulting in a total or partial lunar eclipse) or just pass though the penumbra (called a penumbral eclipse).

Now for my Albuquerque story. Two years ago the Moon’s umbra passed directly in front of the Sun and this was visible in many cities including Albuquerque (I went to Albuquerque because of the clear weather). But since the Moon was at a point in its orbit when it was farther away from the Earth, it didn’t completely block out the Sun. Instead, an annulus or ring of light from the Sun’s disk encircled the Moon. This is called an annular solar eclipse.

On August 21, 2017 there will be the first a total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States in over 30 years. Information on the best places to see the eclipse is already on the Web, so start think about taking an eclipse vacation!

About the Author: Jim is an environmental engineer at the EPA’s Edison, New Jersey Environmental Center.  In his 28 years with the agency he has worked in a variety of programs including Superfund, Water Management, Public Affairs, and Toxic Substances.  He has been an amateur astronomer since he was a teenager, and can often be found after work in the back of the Edison facility with his telescope.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.