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Catch sight of the Leonids meteorites

 

Ever since a meteorite shot overhead while on my way to a very early morning Y swim, I’ve been hooked on meteorite watching. Catching a falling star sounds romantic when it’s in a song but knowing when to watch for shooting “stars” can be exciting or even a reason to have party.

The next prominent meteor shower in 2017 is mid November when the Leonids peak after midnight between Nov. 17 and 18.

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

Where weather is not a factor, Leonids watching will be good because the moon will be in its new phase so there will be no moonlight to make them harder to see.

Of course meteorites are harder to spot in a highly lit area or where the sky glows from city lights so seek out an area near a lake, a park but for safety’s sake go in pairs.

As to where the Leonids come from, think of them as debris left from the Tempel-Tuttle comet.

You see the debris as meteorites when planet Earth’s orbit takes it through the debris. The meteor shower gets its name because they seem to come from a point in the Leo constellation.

What to expect. Look overhead but a bit towards the east. If lucky you may spot about 20 bright, fast meteorites streaking across the sky in an hour. They typically travel about 44 miles per second.

Some years have produced more but about 15 to 20 per hour is a reasonable expectation if watching after midnight when Nov. 17 has turned into Nov. 18.  I have spotted them early dawn just before sunrise in mid-November of past years. However, Earth is traveling through the Leonids most of November.

For more meteor and Leonids info check out Time and Date, Space and NASA.

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous gardens illuminate for the holidays

 

Walk among flowers, trees and interesting plants in the winter? Yes if the garden has been transformed with lights.

From the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area to Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Mobile, AL and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, several gardens across the United States are putting on their holiday evening finery with lights and sounds to say enjoy the season no matter what the temps.

Whether you take a a “staycation” or go out of town, there’s likely to be a garden near by dressed up for the holidays.

Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo

Delightful lights and scenes are around every corner at Bellingrath Gardens outside Movile, AL. Jodie Jacobs photo

 

Bellingrath

If near Mobile, AL do get tickets to explore Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The 65-acre estate of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath treats visitors to breathtaking light displays and the home is decorated for the holidays.

Called Magic Christmas in Lights, and running Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2017, the holiday event has  about 15 scenes, 1,100 displays and three million lights to surprise visitors around every corner and off in the distance.. Weekends feature choral groups on the home’s South Terrace.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd., Theodore, AL. For tickets, hours and more information call 800) 247 8420 and visit Bellingrath Magic.

 

Chicago Botanic Gardens

In the Chicago area trees sparkle with thousands of lights outside and trains toot around city landmarks inside during the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wonderland Express celebration, Nov. 24, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. BTW there is gently falling snow in the main train area and poinsettias in the greenhouses.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Chicago Botanic Wonderland.

 

Morton Arboretum 

Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo

Illumination at Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL is stunning and fun. Morton Arboretum photo

Also, go over to the Morton Arboretum where colored lights spectacularly light up the grounds during Illumination Nov. 17, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018. The lights are interactive with some lights moving to music and some trees changing color with a hug or song. A medallion will also be sold that reacts to the sights and sounds.

The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 IL Hwy, 53, Lisle. For tickets and other information call (630) 968-0074 and visit Morton Arb Illumination.

Tip: Tickets to the Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum holiday shows need to be bought in advance because they are time and date specific and sell-out early.

 

Desert Botanical Garden

If vacationing in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area go over to the Desert Botanical Garden for Las Noches de las Luminarias, Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, 2017. Wander the paths lit by thousands of luminaria bags and twinkling lights. In addition the garden will be featuring the work of Japanese American sculptor Jun Kaneko.

The Desert Botanical Garden is at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ. For tickets and other information call 480-941-1225 and visit DBG Luminarias.

 

Next in the holiday series will be zoo lights but if you have a favorite holiday garden visit not mentioned here please tell us in Leave a Reply.

 

The Draconids are here whether you see them or not

 

Look up tonight, Oct. 7 and tomorrow Oct, 8 to try to catch the Draconid meteor shower.

Typically this meteor shower does not fill the sky with what some folks call “shooting stars” but some years it can be spectacular.

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

Meteor shower. (NASA photo)

The meteors emanate from the Draco the Dragon constellation.

Sky watchers know it was fun to see in 2011 when more than 600 meteors shot out from the Dragon per hour.

Watch for them after the sun sets.

However, if clouds don’t interfere then the light from the waning gibbous moon, still about 75 percent glowing following the very recent full harvest moon, might make the meteors harder to see.

Best plan is to go somewhere without street or city lights as soon as suitably dark, then look north.

The later it is in the night when the moon is high and bright, the harder it will be to catch a “falling star.”

The Draconid meteors, also called the Giacobinids, happen when the Earth’s orbit has it colliding with debris from the comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner.

The comet’s orbit is 6.5 years long so this year may be the next good year since 2011.

To learn more about the Draconids vist Earthsky.  To learn more about meteors and how to watch them visit NASA.

Good luck

 

 

 

 

Be a happy Chicago Marathon spectator

It’s hard to believe the Chicago Marathon will turn 40 when thousands of runners step across the start line in Grant Park Oct. 11, 2017. I remember when a neighbor (three houses ago) helped with the planning and ran in it and his wife was a spectator for the first one in 1977. They were excited that it attracted over 4,000 runners.

Add a zero for 2017. In 2016 there were more than 40,000 runners. Visit race history for more background info.

Chicago Marathon starts and ends in Grant Park but runs through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. (Bank of America photo)

Chicago Marathon starts and ends in Grant Park but runs through 29 Chicago neighborhoods.
(Bank of America photo)

Part of the popularity lies in the course. It’s ideal for runners who like a flat terrain (say opposed to the last hill in the Boston Marathon). However, the course also has the travel-lover’s bonus of showing off 29, diverse Chicago neighborhoods filled with different residential, business and ecclesiastic architectural styles, sculptures and murals.

So, the question is where to watch the race.

General spectators won’t be able to go near the race’s start and finish areas in Grant Park on race day. These area are for participants with bib numbers, event and credentialed staff plus a few ticketed individuals. The Post-Race Party and runner reunite area of Grant Park will open to spectators at 9:30 a.m. but with heavy safety measures in place including personal and bag screening.

With an expected 1.7 million spectators, standing in a crowd near the beginning and end of the race will be tough to watch for someone or cheer that person on. Checking other course sites makes more sense.

First, here are the neighborhoods along the 26.2 mile course. Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Central Station, Chinatown, East Pilsen, (The) Gap, Greektown, Illinois Medical District, Lakeview East, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Loop, Magnificent Mile, Near North, Near West Side, New East Side, Old Town, Old Town Triangle, Park Boulevard, Park West, Pilsen, Prairie District, River North, South Commons, South Loop, Streeterville, University Village, West Loop and West Loop Gate.

Secondly, click Spectator Guide to download a pdf that can help you decide where to go and what time you’ll want to be there.

You can drive if you stay west of the course’s street closures but Chicago’s public transportation system is excellent. The “L” is the best choice for getting around the city during the marathon because buses will be impacted by street closures.

One veteran Chicago Marathon runner recommended the Mile 14 area near the University of Illinois Chicago Campus. The Blue Line UIC-Halsted Station is near miles 13.5 to 16.5. When exiting use the Halsted Street or Morgan Street exit then walk two blocks north on Morgan Street to Adams Street (Mile 13.5). Exiting at Halsted Street gets you to Mile 16.5.

Runners are expected to reach this area from 8:27 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As to safety, Chicago Marathon officials working with the City of Chicago, added safety rules and features following the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. such as screening of participants,  clear plastic bags for gear checks and access only to Grant Park just for runners. Security rules only allow ticketed finish line viewing.

More meetings were held with the city following the recent horrific Las Vegas shooting.

Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said, ” As we enter the final week of preparations for the 40th running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the horrible events that took place in Las Vegas are weighing heavily on our hearts.  We extend our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and all who have been affected by this national tragedy. We also understand how many who plan to participate in Sunday’s celebration may have some concerns about public safety in the wake of Sunday’s events. ‘

Pinkowski added, “We are constantly examining, modifying and enhancing our public safety and security plan based on input from our law enforcement partners.  This week, we will be discussing what adjustments will be made given Sunday’s tragedy.  And, on race day, we will be working alongside the Chicago Police Department and many others in the law enforcement community, as we do every year, to keep our event, our participants and our city safe.”

She re-uttered the mantra heard on TV since the shooting about seeing something, saying something. “We remind everyone on race day to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.”

Both marathon and city officials emphasize that participating in the race as runners and cheerers show is still important.

“Wwe encourage all participants to join us on Sunday for what is always an uplifting, joyous celebration of the human spirit,” said Pinkowski.

For more guide information visit Spectator.

 

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