Lots of opportunities to enjoy and explore nature in 2018

If you have resolved to get out more into the outdoors and enjoy nature in 2018, plenty of opportunities await you. Several organizations and state agencies conduct free nature walks and other activities throughout the year. Here’s a sample:

• The Atlanta Audubon Society at www.atlantaaudubon.org lists upcoming bird walks led by experienced birders. The site also has descriptions and directions to prime bird-watching spots in metro Atlanta. A popular offering is first-Saturday-of-the month bird walks in Piedmont Park.

• The Georgia Botanical Society lists its upcoming field trips — more than 50 this year — at www.gabotsoc.org. Led by experienced botanists, the outings are chances to observe and learn about wildflowers and other native flora of Georgia in their natural habitats. Upcoming: A winter tree-identification walk on Jan. 20 at Big Trees Preserve in Sandy Springs.

• Georgia state parks' at www.gastateparks.org has information about upcoming nature-based activities in the parks — bird walks, wildflower hikes, butterfly counts, canoe trips and others.

Other organizations with good information about Georgia's natural areas include the Georgia ForestWatch at www.gafw.org; Georgia Wildlife Federation at www.gwf.org; the Georgia Conservancy at www.gaconservancy.org; the Georgia Native Plant Society at www.gnps.org; the Georgia Sierra Club at georgia.sierraclub.org; the Nature Conservancy of Georgia at www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/georgia; and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper at www.chattahoochee.org.

Also, check out the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division at www.georgiawildlife.com and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area at www.nps.gov/chat.

In addition, the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell at www.chattnaturecenter.org and the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield (east of Atlanta) at georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliot offer excellent nature-watching activities for families.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be new on Tuesday. Mercury, Venus and Saturn are low in the east just before sunrise. Mercury and Venus will appear near the moon on Monday morning. Jupiter and Mars rise out of the east just after midnight.