Why do we measure the length of the day in hours?

The ancients divided the day in half, roughly corresponding to sunrise and sunset, with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. The length of an hour varied, depending on the time of year, until mechanical clocks were invented in the late Middle Ages.

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Is it true that Benjamin Franklin invented an odometer?

Yes. While he was postmaster in Philadelphia, he created an odometer to measure postal route distances and attached the contraption to his carriage.

What does the term buckdancer's choice mean and what is its origin?

Its origin seems varied. A buckdance generally refers to a dance done solo, such as tapdancing. A buck-and-wing is a kind of southern mountain dancing. The term also may have come from a Native American ceremonial dance by a brave costumed as a buck. A buckdancer's choice, then, would seem to refer to a solo dancer's own style or choice of dance to be done in performance.

Does the Moon rise and set as the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west? The enormous full Moon always takes me by surprise, and I'd love to get some shots of a big yellow Moon. Is it possible to predict the dates and times when the Moon will appear largest over the horizon?

Basically, the Moon rises in the east and sets in the west, but its path varies during the month because its orbit is elliptical. However, you will never see a rising Moon in the west or a setting Moon in the east. The time to see a huge Moon is in its full phase and when it is close to the horizon. If you check the right-hand calendar pages in the print Almanac, you will see the notation "Moon runs low"; this is when it is closest to the horizon. Check the date for each such notation, then check the left-hand calendar page for the Moon's phase and the time of its rising and setting for that date.

How can I best clean a small pewter vase?

If the vase is not an antigue one, it would be safe to use a homemade paste made from vinegar, flour, and salt. This has a mildly abrasive quality. If you have antique pewter, which is generally of a softer alloy than modern-day pewter, use more care. For older pewter, make a paste of wood ashes and water for polishing.

What is considered the first horror film to hit the big screen?

That honor goes to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which debuted in Chicago in 1908.

What is red tide that occurs on ocean coasts?

Red tide refers to a toxin that can kill fish and contaminate shellfish, making the shellfish inedible. It occurs when a certain type of dinoflagellates blooms, causing a reddish discoloration of the water.

What makes a cape, as in Cape Cod, a cape?

The geographical definition if a cape is a piece of land, either a point or larger mass, that juts out into water and is a peninsula. People use the term loosely, sometimes using it to refer not to one specific point but to a whole area of land. The Cape of Good Hope, for example, does not just mean the point south of Cape Town, South Africa, but refers to the entire region.

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