What we're about

What is a Nature Nerd anyway?

A Nature Nerd is someone who wants field based or hands-on experiences (e.g. hikes, citizen science, etc.), but is also interested in the current scientific research (i.e. astronomy, biology, ecology, physics, etc.). Anyone who wants to share what they know and what they are learning is included. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to join regardless of skill level, ability, or location!

Our basic expectation of behavior from everyone is "Be Considerate!'

The outdoor activities we schedule range from the Austin area, across all of Texas, and to other states. Hikes, observational activities (e.g. birding or astronomy), service/restoration/remediation projects with other groups (e.g Sierra Club), kayaking, and climbing are some examples. This includes more challenging back-country excursions with increased costs and skill requirements. If you have an idea for an activity or would like to participate as an event leader please contact any of the organizers.

"Men and women wanted for hazardous journey. No wages, bitter cold and sweltering heat, long hours of bright darkness. Safety doubtful. Wonder certain. More of the same in the event of success." [1]

We do have a basic rule that governs all activities:

No police, other LEA, firemen, EMTs, tax men, or other authority figures in a bad mood. If your event or project requires insurance, licenses, or needs to meet other regulatory requirements it is not Nature Nerds responsibility to provide them.

We also pursue deeper and more technical understandings of our interests by keeping up with the current literature (e.g. paper or book reading/reviews), as well as lectures and classes . These activities can be in person, virtual, or hybrid (i.e. in person and virtual).

Past activities have included nature walks to identify plants and animals, going to presentations (e.g. birds, grasses, and bats), and other activities that increased our knowledge and appreciation of the natural world. We have taken trips to Commons Ford, St. Edwards Park, Breckenridge Lab, and Canyon of the Eagles.

Sharing your experiences with pictures, videos, papers, computer programs, and other media is highly encouraged and your effort is appreciated.

Here are some links to better help explain the scope of our activities:

Basic Research -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_research

Hard and Soft Science -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_and_soft_science

Exact Sciences -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exact_sciences

Citizen Science -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_science (This used to be called 'Amateur Science' and goes back to at least 1928)

The Amateur Scientist -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amateur_S... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amateur_Scientist)

Backcountry vs. Frontcountry -- https://www.trailspace.com/blog/2010/07/06/backcountry-versus-frontcountry.html

Wilderness Medical Emergency -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilderness_medical_emergency (Please seriously consider taking the time and effort to get CPR and WFA training.)

Leave No Trace -- https://lnt.org/

The 10 Essentials -- https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html (Be sure to select the Expert Advise menu page for more outdoor information!)

The Rule of Threes -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_threes_(survival)#:~:text=Normally%2C%20the%20rule%20of%20threes,(extreme%20heat%20or%20cold).

Lightning Safety - American Hiking Society -- https://americanhiking.org/resources/lightning-safety/

Here are some groups that we partner with:

Austin Sierra Club (Disclosure - James Choate is an Event Leader for the chapter) -- https://www.sierraclub.org/texas/austin

Austin Astronomical Society (Disclosure - James Choate is a member) -- https://austinastro.org/

Capital Area Master Naturalist -- https://camn.org/

Balcones Canyonland Master Naturalist-- https://bctxmn.org/ (Stephanie Putnam is a member of this group, please contact her if you are interested in joining.)

ASMBLY Makerspace - Was ATX Hackerspace -- https://asmbly.org/

Texas Rock Climbing -- https://www.meetup.com/Texas-Rock-Climbing/

Asheville Science Tavern (Asheville, NC) - We cross-post activities with this group -- https://www.meetup.com/Asheville-Science-Tavern/

@Boslab Boston Open Science Laboratory - We cross-post activities with this group -- https://www.meetup.com/BosLab/

Counter Culture Labs -- https://www.meetup.com/Counter-Culture-Labs... (https://www.meetup.com/Counter-Culture-Labs/)

[1] Brotherton, Mike. "Spider Star" (ISBN 978-0-7653-1125-2).

This is a quote which is itself a play on Ernest Shackleton's supposed request for participants in his Antarctic Expedition:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."

The irony is it appears that the quote was fabricated many years after the actual event (http://www.antarctic-circle.org/advert.htm) and is nothing more than urban legend.

Upcoming events (4+)

ICMS (UK) - Red Squirrel Conservation in a Mathematical Nutshell - Online

You do NOT need to sign up for this event. It is a placeholder only.

You DO need to visit this site to register -- https://www.eventbrite.com/e/red-squirrel-conservation-in-a-mathematical-nutshell-with-andy-white-tickets-169984609543?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch&keep_tld=1

The International Center for Mathematical Sciences has this to say...

The red squirrel is one of the UKs best loved species – but now can only be found in Scotland and Northern Ireland and in isolated regions in England and Wales. This talk will give a history of red squirrel persistence in the UK, describe how mathematical equations can represent the abundance, movement and interaction of squirrel populations and how this can be used to develop red squirrel conservation policy. You do not need to be a mathematical expert to enjoy the talk – which is suitable for all with an interest in mathematics and/or wildlife.

Professor Andy White (Heriot-Watt) – whose research is focussed on applying mathematics to understand and manage wildlife systems – will explain the plight of red squirrels in the UK, how mathematical models were key tools in understanding the role of invasive grey squirrels and squirrelpox disease in the replacement of red squirrels, and how mathematics is being used to design forest management plans to conserve the remaining red squirrels in Scotland. The talk is suitable for adults and youngsters (age 10+) alike.

Comet Watch - Oct 1/Dec 24 - COMET LEONARD (C/2021 A1) - Visual? - Online Only!

You do NOT need to sign up for this event. It is a placeholder only.

2021 should be a good year for comet chasers. There are a dozen new and returning comets this year. One is a potential naked-eye candidate. All you will need is an 8-inch or larger telescope and dark sky.

Jan 21 - Mar[masked]P/MACHHOLZ 2
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY FEBRUARY

Jan 21 - Mar 7
156P/RUSSELL-LINEAR
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY FEBRUARY

Jan 21 - Oct 28
29P/SCHWASSMANN-WACHMANN
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY MARCH THEN RETURNING AT DAWN IN MID-JULY

Jan 26 - Feb 24
COMET NEOWISE (C/2021 A2)
EVENING SKY — JANUARY AND FEBRUARY

Mar 15 - Apr 23
COMET ATLAS (C/2020 R4)
MORNING SKY — MID-MARCH TO MID-APRIL THEN EVENINGS STARTING IN LATE APRIL

May 1 - June 27
7P/PONS-WINNECKE
MORNING SKY — MAY THROUGH AUGUST

June 1 - Aug 5
15P/FINLAY
MORNING SKY — MAY THROUGH AUGUST

Sept 1 - Dec 15
6P/D'ARREST
EVENING SKY — SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER

Oct 1 - Dec 24
COMET LEONARD (C/2021 A1)
MORNING SKY — OCTOBER THROUGH NOVEMBER, THEN EVENINGS IN DECEMBER
Possible Naked Eye

Oct 1 - Apr 2(?)
67P/CHURYUMOV-GERASIMENKO
MIDNIGHT SKY, THEN EVENINGS — OCTOBER THROUGH FEBRUARY 2022

References:

Sky and Telescope - Comet Watch 2021 -- https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/observing-news/comet-watch-2021/

IRSA - NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive - IRAS -- https://irsa.ipac.caltech.edu/Missions/iras.html

NEOWISE - NASA/JPL -- https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/neowise/

The Sky Live - Comets -- https://theskylive.com/comets

Asteroid and Comet Watch - NASA -- https://www.nasa.gov/asteroid-and-comet-watch

Stellarium -- https://stellarium.org/

Comet Watch - Oct 1/Apr 2(?) - 67P/CHURYUMOV-GERASIMENKO - Online Only!

You do NOT need to sign up for this event. It is a placeholder only.

2021 should be a good year for comet chasers. There are a dozen new and returning comets this year. One is a potential naked-eye candidate. All you will need is an 8-inch or larger telescope and dark sky.

Jan 21 - Mar[masked]P/MACHHOLZ 2
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY FEBRUARY

Jan 21 - Mar 7
156P/RUSSELL-LINEAR
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY FEBRUARY

Jan 21 - Oct 28
29P/SCHWASSMANN-WACHMANN
EVENING SKY — JANUARY TO EARLY MARCH THEN RETURNING AT DAWN IN MID-JULY

Jan 26 - Feb 24
COMET NEOWISE (C/2021 A2)
EVENING SKY — JANUARY AND FEBRUARY

Mar 15 - Apr 23
COMET ATLAS (C/2020 R4)
MORNING SKY — MID-MARCH TO MID-APRIL THEN EVENINGS STARTING IN LATE APRIL

May 1 - June 27
7P/PONS-WINNECKE
MORNING SKY — MAY THROUGH AUGUST

June 1 - Aug 5
15P/FINLAY
MORNING SKY — MAY THROUGH AUGUST

Sept 1 - Dec 15
6P/D'ARREST
EVENING SKY — SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER

Oct 1 - Dec 24
COMET LEONARD (C/2021 A1)
MORNING SKY — OCTOBER THROUGH NOVEMBER, THEN EVENINGS IN DECEMBER
Possible Naked Eye

Oct 1 - Apr 2(?)
67P/CHURYUMOV-GERASIMENKO
MIDNIGHT SKY, THEN EVENINGS — OCTOBER THROUGH FEBRUARY 2022

References:

Sky and Telescope - Comet Watch 2021 -- https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/observing-news/comet-watch-2021/

IRSA - NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive - IRAS -- https://irsa.ipac.caltech.edu/Missions/iras.html

NEOWISE - NASA/JPL -- https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/neowise/

The Sky Live - Comets -- https://theskylive.com/comets

Asteroid and Comet Watch - NASA -- https://www.nasa.gov/asteroid-and-comet-watch

Stellarium -- https://stellarium.org/

IM-1-NOVA - NASA & Intuitive Machines - Lunar Lander - Online

You do NOT need to sign up for this event - It is a placeholder only.

NASA has this description of the mission.

The Intuitive Machines 1 (IM-1) mission objective is to place a lander, called Nova-C, in the Vallis Schroteri rgion on the Moon. The commercially built lander will carry five NASA payloads and commercial cargo. Launch is scheduled for October 2021. IM-1 was selected through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, in which NASA contracts with a commercial partner, in this case Intuitive Machines, that provides the launch and lander.

NASA Mission Page -- https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraft/display.action?id=IM-1-NOVA

Intuitive Machines -- https://www.intuitivemachines.com/lunarlander

Photos (505)