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What triggers the internal prompt that tells a tree "Oh hey, winter's coming"? It's a mystery to researchers. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

There’s still a lot that scientists don’t understand about what makes trees tick, especially when it comes to fall color. A team at the Morton Arboretum is working to unlock those secrets.

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Artist Raychel Steinbach, wearing one of her own nature-inspired masks. (Current Location Press / Facebook)

Chicago-based artist Raychel Steinbach has designed a series of prints that celebrate individual Illinois state parks. Now she’s using the same imagery, inspired by places like Starved Rock and Moraine Hills, in a line of handmade masks.

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(AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin)

The goal of contact tracing is to alert people who may have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, and prevent them from spreading it to others. But the process isn’t easy. 

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Goats and sheep on the job at MWRD's Calumet plant. (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago / Facebook)

A herd of 65 sheep and goats replaced more traditional mowing equipment this summer at MWRD’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, where the animals helped maintain the native prairie landscape. 

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(Hashan / Pixabay)

It's mating season for deer, which means more are on the move at dawn and dusk — prime time for deer-vehicle collisions. Cook County led the state in 2019 with 472 crashes.

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(WikiImages / Pixabay)

Thursday’s full moon is the harvest moon, coming closest to the autumnal equinox. It will have some celestial company on Friday in the form of Mars, when the two will rise together and stay paired throughout the evening, according to experts.

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Holly, the 2019 Fat Bear champ, is looking to defend her crown. (Katmai National Park & Preserve / Facebook)

It’s Fat Bear Week. No, we’re not mocking Matt Nagy’s squad, we’re talking about the annual competition to crown the beefiest brown bear in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Here’s how to get in on the action.

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Composting is one way to reduce food waste. (Herb007 / Pixabay)

Tuesday marks the first ever International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, so let’s talk about the produce that spoiled in your refrigerator and the unopened cans you trashed because they were past their “expiration date.”

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Animal rights activists protest Sunday, Sept. 27 in Belmont Cragin. (Grace Del Vecchio / WTTW News)

Protesters lined the corner of Austin Boulevard and Fullerton Avenue on Sunday, holding signs linking animals to viral outbreaks, like Ebola and COVID-19. One sign simply read: “We are one pandemic away from collapse.”

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(PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay)

Researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine have found an apparent link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of getting COVID-19. Paleontologist Neil Shubin has details on that story and more.

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 by taking part in activities at select Cook County Forest Preserves. (Forest Preserve District of Cook County / Facebook)

Visitors can choose from a slew of free activities at more than a dozen sites Saturday. Among the options, you can take a nature walk, learn the basics of camping, build a toy boat, meet some critters or join a scavenger hunt.

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Trees crashed onto cars and into streets during storms in Chicago on Aug. 10, 2020. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

As Chicago gets ready for cooler weather, many parts of the country are being hit by wildfires, hurricanes and the aftermath of last month’s destructive derecho. We learn more with atmospheric scientist Scott Collis.

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Maryam Saleh speaks with “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (WTTW News)

Maryam Saleh, an entrepreneur and Chicago-based computational neuroscientist, tells us about her new role leading the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Chicago's east-west streets are the best place to view the fall equinox sunset. (Patty Wetli / WTTW)

During the fall equinox, the sun rises due east and sets due west, creating an effect dubbed “Chicagohenge” (in reference to Stonehenge), when the sunset is strikingly framed on east-west streets by the city’s skyscrapers.

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Volunteers are needed for daily beach cleanups through Sept. 26. (Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium)

It might not be the day of your Coppertone dreams, but you can get a little sand between your toes by signing up for one or all of this week’s volunteer beach and shoreline cleanups.

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The wingspan of the American white pelican is second only to the California condor. (Skeeze / Pixabay)

Join a hike Sunday in Will County, where a flock of American white pelicans, one of North America’s largest birds, is hanging out during its annual fall migration.

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