Q Why is it that snow is white?

A: The answer lies in snow’s messy construction. Sunlight is actually composed of all of the colors of the rainbow; we see those colors when sunlight passes through a raindrop or a glass prism.

A beam of white sunlight entering a snowbank is so quickly scattered by the ice crystals and air pockets in the snow that most of the light comes zinging right back out of the snowbank. No one wavelength is preferentially absorbed or reflected, so snow is essentially the color of the sunlight reflecting off it – white.

Q Do you have any hints on how to get food coloring off your skin?

A: One of the best ways to remove food coloring from your skin is to wash with plenty of soap and water immediately after you realize the coloring has dyed your skin. If this doesn’t work, try adding 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 cup of warm water (adults only), then scrubbing your hands with the mixture. For children and adults, try washing stained hands with lemon juice. Hand lotion also works on some stains.

Q The Farmers’ Almanac lists the best times to cut your hair. What does this mean?

A: Our Farmers’ Almanac Best Days Calendar is based on the almanac tradition and belief that the phase of the moon, its place in the zodiac, or a combination of both affects the success of a variety of tasks, including cutting your hair. Many people swear by these dates and say that if you cut your hair on the dates listed in this calendar, your hair will grow back thicker and more beautiful.

Write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

Q Are there any fish, animals or plants in the Dead Sea?

A: No, there are no fish or plants or animals in the Dead Sea. Nothing lives in this body of water because of the large concentration of salt in its water. The Dead Sea contains about six times the amount of salt that ocean water does. The Dead Sea is completely landlocked and gets saltier as its depth increases. If fish accidentally swim into the Dead Sea, they will be poisoned by the large concentration of mineral salts.

An interesting feature of the Dead Sea is its buoyancy. Due to the extremely high concentrations of dissolved mineral salts, the Dead Sea’s density is much greater than that of fresh or ocean water. As a result, if you were to go into the Dead Sea (the high salt content is not deadly to humans, unless drunk), it would be very easy to float.

Q On what two days do the rays of the sun strike the equator vertically?

A: The equinox days are when the rays of the sun strike the equator vertically. These days are in March (the first day of spring), with the apparent motion moving north, and in September (the first day of autumn), when the apparent motion moves south. On these days the equator is precisely perpendicular to the sun.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

Q: What does the “Q” in Q-Tips stand for?

A: According to many sources and the official Web site for Q-Tips, the Q stands for quality and the word tips refers to the cotton swab at the end of the stick. Q-Tips were originally called Baby Gays, then Q-Tip Baby Gays, and then just Q-Tips. Today, most everyone refers to an ear-cleaning swab as a “Q-Tip.”

Q: What does moon southing mean?

A: Also known as the moon’s meridian passage or upper culmination, the moon’s southing is when the moon appears exactly above the south point of the observer’s local horizon.


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