Christmas kiss on Monday night

 In case you have not heard, on Dec 21th the great conjunction of 2020 will take place. Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer to one another and brighter than they have in 800 years in the night sky. This occurrence is called the Christmas kiss. You are supposed to look for it about hour after sunset in the southwest near the horizon.  NASA has a night sky map to help you find it.  The Guardian has article about it as well. I will be out looking for it if the skies are clear. NOAA says mostly clear…fingers crossed! If you have a phone app for the stars, you might use that to help you locate them. The free Iphone app I use is SkyView Lite. For Android, there is Sky Map and it is also free.

This is what it looks like tonight. 

Inside of a armadillo shell. The shell is made of bone with a top layer of keratin. Our finger nails are made of the same stuff .

I’m guessing the black stuff is what is left of keratin on the shell. Armadillo means “little armoured one” in Spanish.

The Post Oak (Quercus stellata) buds are pushing out.

The wild plums are not as far along. 

Insect or spider egg casing are really tough and can survive the winter in the open. It is amazing!
I told you yesterday I was going to looking into the Purple crust fungus which I believe was Phlebiopsis crassa.

This is a view of it at 30X. Really quite fuzzy.

Next I did a chemical test using KOH (Potassium hydorxide). It reacted with brown to black which is consist with Phlebiopsis crassa.

This is what I saw at 400X. There are granules on the ends of the cystidia (special, sterile cells).

Another view but now I have added KOH to the slide. I believe at this time it is Phlebiopsis crassa but by no means a 100% sure. 

I never know what I’m going to see under the microscope. These are spores, but whether they belong to Phlebiopsis crassa I don’t know. I often see stuff that I have no clue about and may not even belong to the specimen I’m trying to examine. But what I do is take the picture because it might lead to a clue later. To me, looking through the microscope is so magical!

Keep looking!


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