Does January full moon mark middle of winter


January full moon is the Wolf Moon J Jacobs photo)
January full moon is the Wolf Moon J Jacobs photo)

If you like taking photos of a full moon, get those cameras or cell phones ready Jan. 16 through Jan.18 to snap the first full moon of 2022.

Even though the moon at its fullest illumination Jan. 17 at 23.48 UTC (5:48 p.m. CST), it will appear full the day before and day after Jan. 17.

A newscaster mentioned that Jan. 17-18 marks a halfway point for winter. Well, that depends.

Meteorological winter started Dec. 1 and continues through the end of February because the meteorological seasons are divided into quarters of three months each.  In the Northern Hemisphere meteorological spring is March, April May.

A sky watching site mentioned that the last full moon was Dec. 19, 2021, two days before the Northern Hemisphere’s December solstice. For 2022, astronomical winter began December 21, 2021 and ends at the Equinox, March 20, 2022.  Time and Date has a calendar.

The astronomical calendar is based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun with seasons divided by two solstices and two equinoxes, determined by a combination of Earth’s tilt and the sun’s position over the equator.

Another feature of a full moon is its name. Folklore, typically based on animal behavior and crop cycles, calls the January full moon the Snow Moon, Hunger Moon and, most popularly, the Wolf Moon.

Animal behavior is also behind Groundhog Day. Just for fun, on Feb. 2, check out groundhog predictions of winter’s end from Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Woodstock Willie in Woodstock, IL (where “Groundhog Day” was filmed).

For more information visit NASA Solar System Exploration and Time and Date.


Meteor Shower


NASA photo of a meteor shower
NASA photo of a meteor shower

Of course people will be watching fireworks in person or on TV the night when Dec. 31, 2021 turn into early morning Jan 1, 2022.

But the sky will be doing its own show during this period with the Quadrantids. They will peak when Jan 3 turns to Jan. 4, 2022.

The good news is that the New Moon will rise and set with the Sun so it won’t be a factor.

The sort of bad news is that the meteor shower peak of about 110 to 120 meteors an hour is a short couple of hours. The expected peak time is 21 UTC (Universal Time Clock.

Named for a defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis the meteor shower’s other name is the Bootids for constellation Bootes. The parent is Asteroid 2003 EH which takes about 5.5 years to orbit the Sun.

For more information visit Time and Date and EarthSky.


Illinois State Museum seeks Mother Road items for anniversary exhibition

Route 66 (Photo on US gov site)
Route 66 (Photo on US gov site)

Maybe you have heard singers croon “Get your kicks on Route 66,” from the iconic travel song composed by Bobby Troup in 1946. Originally, known as the Will Rogers Highway and the Main Street of America, Route 66 was established in November 1926.

In Illinois, there are signs along the famed route beginning downtown Chicago on Adams Street across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute of Chicago. But this well-traveled road that takes you from Chicago to LA., supposedly started around the south side of the museum.

Now the Illinois State Museum (ISM) which has been chronicling important and interesting Illinois events and places since founded in 1877, is putting together an exhibition on the “Mother Road” to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2026.

The museum is seeking collection help to expand what it has related to the Route. What’s needed are both items that bring alive Route 66 history and those that can add to its current story.

According to a State of Illinois press release, the family of Route 66 traveler Bob Waldmire is donating much of his art and personal belongings to the museum.  The Waldmire donation includes a roadside display stand for selling postcards and the hood of his 1965 Mustang, hand-painted with a map of Route 66.

The release explained that  Waldmire traveled from town to town along Route 66, creating and selling art and postcards in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.

“No one symbolized the freedom and opportunity of the Mother Road better than Bob Waldmire,” said Illinois State Museum Curator of History Erika Holst.

To contribute or learn more visit ISM Route 66 collecting initiative. Also learn about the ISM and its locations in Springfield, Lockport and Dickson Mounds in Lewistown at Illinois State Museum.

December full moon heralds winter


Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

Don’t be surprised if a bright light wakes you this weekend. The December full moon rises very high in the sky opposite the sun at 10:36 p.m. CST Dec. 18, 2021. But the shining orb looks full and bright Friday through Monday.

In the eastern part of the northern hemisphere the high moon hour is close enough to midnight to be considered a Sunday full moon. Click Moonrise Calculator for time in your area. You can watch for the full moon just before sunset.

The December full moon has several nicknames such as the Long Night Moon and Full Cold Moon because it comes closest to the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21,2021). It marks the start of winter and is the date with the longest period of darkness. The December full moon also has a very high trajectory so it will be in the sky longer.

Other names are the Yule Moon, Winter Moon, Frost Moon and Oak Moon.

Find good source information at EarthSkyNASA Solar System Exploration, TimeandDate and Old Farmer’s Almanac.


Four top ideas for a fun and different holiday gift

Long Grove Confectionery. ( JJacobs photo)
Long Grove Confectionery. ( JJacobs photo)

Shopping on-line makes holiday gift-choices COVID safe and fun. Just try to do the shopping now while orders have a good chance to make it to their destinations by Christmas. You also are likely to find some things you would like. Hey, give yourself a gift.

For the traveler or travel wannabe National Geographic has a holiday special –   for $39/year that includes immediate digital access, 12 print issues, and a tote bag. Find the details at NationalGeographicHolidayGift.

Find the perfect gift online at a historical or landmark site such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin or Taliesin West in Arizona. Both of Wright’s famous homes have books, home décor items, ties, clever socks and jewelry. Visit Shop – Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation for Arizona and Shop – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin ( for Wisconsin.

Check out the giftshop on-line at a favorite museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago. The shop has great scarves, books, calendars, jewelry and home décor items. Look for gifts at MuseumShopartic.

Share your love of fine foods. Order from a favorite coffee or candy store. A couple of examples are Door County Coffee and Tea which is the go-to place in a Wisconsin vacation spot and Long Grove Confectionery in a historic Chicago suburb.

Visit them at Door County Coffee & Tea Co.  and at Long Grove Confectionery Co. and Chicagoland Favorite! Decadent chocolate gifts for business & beyond! – Long Grove Confectionery Co



Best meteor shower

NASA photo of a meteor shower
NASA photo of a meteor shower


“Catch a falling star.” That idea shouldn’t be hard the first half of December when the Geminids send about 120 meteors per hour across the sky at its peak.

Although most meteor showers happen when the Earth passes through the debris from comets, the Gemeni meteor shower is debris left by an asteroid called 32 Phaethon.

However, the Geminids, as the shower’s meteors are known, are named for their radiant point in the constellation Gemini where the “Twins,” the bright stars Castor and Pollux, reside. They appear to emanate from Castor which can be found near Pollux.

But this meteor shower can be seen from all directions so don’t worry if you can’t pinpoint the constellation.

The Geminids, considered among the best meteor showers of the year, starts Dec. 3 in 2021. To catch it at its peak, look up the night of Dec. 13 into the early hours of Dec. 14.

Of course, the best viewing area would be away from city and street lights.

Two good Gemini Meteor Shower resources are NASA and NASA Solar System Exploration.


Watch the sky this week!

NASA photo of a meteor shower
NASA photo of a meteor shower

Meteor shower. Full moon. Lunar eclipse. Oh my!

The mid-November sky is full of interesting phenomena to see if  you are patient.

First challenge: Watch for the Leonids, a November meteor shower from the Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle debris. The Leonids can be prolific but this year only about 10 to 15 meteors are expected even at its peak Nov. 16-17.

Best time will be early Wednesday morning just before dawn when the waxing gibbous moon, on its way to full moon phase, sets about 4:45 a.m.

Which brings us to the second challenge: a full moon coupled with a lunar eclipse. November’s full moon is the Beaver Moon which in 2021 reaches full phase at 3:59 a.m. Nov. 19 at the height of a nearly full lunar eclipse.

So enjoy its fullness the day before and day after (the moon appears full for three days) because we will also be experiencing the longest lasting lunar eclipse in 580 years.

That’s because the moon will be at its slowest orbital speed at the same time it will be at apogee, the farthest point from the Earth.

Its all about the Earth’s shadow on Nov. 19 when the moon’s position is just about directly opposite the Sun.

In the Midwest you can start to watch the eclipse just after midnight  but it won’t be as noticeable until an hour later.

At the peak of eclipse at 4:02:53 a.m. Eastern Time,  97% of the Moon will be in full shadow.

More about the Beaver Moon  The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests looking for the full moon after sunset Nov. 18 before its hits peak illumination during the eclipse early Friday morning.  The Almanac has a moonrise and moonset calculator.

Full moons typically take their name from Indian and farming events and seasons. Beavers have been known to have laid up their stock for winter and done building their homes by mid November.





Mark geninids on cal for dec13-14

Art Preserve is short travel trip or part of a larger getaway

New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)
New Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. ( J Jacobs photo)

Instead of merely zooming (the old-fashioned sense of the word) in on your fall destination, check out places along the way to stop that you might not get to in a separate trip.

A surprising thing happened as we planned a Door County getaway for October.

Looking at the map ((we use GPS and paper maps) we realized we could break the drive up from Chicago into two destinations with a short stopover in Sheboygan. We know and have been to the American Club in Kohler, but why Sheboygan?

The John Michael Kohler Art Center downtown Sheboygan on New York Avenue has opened an exceptional branch called the Art Preserve over on Lower Falls Road that celebrates intuitive Wisconsin artists. Not only is the building artistic, its contents include large and sometimes full collections from each artist.

P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)
P:aintings, jewelry, sculptures and, ceramics are among art collections at the Kohler Art Preserve in Sheboygan, WI. (J Jacobs photo)

I had seen good intuitive exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum so hearing what the Art Preserve would have and that it would open in July I was excited about stopping there on our way to Door County for a fall color trip.

The art work is remarkable!

Fantastical animal sculptures. (J Jacobs photo)

The Art Preserve may seem small on the outside but that is an illusion. The art fills three floors.

Visitors wander around well-placed sculptures and home-made structures that have been taken down and moved there. They then move on to startling paintings on dividers and top notch (I want one) ceramics on tables and in cases. There are also artists’ amazing renderings of animals and people.

Some artists' houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)
Some artists’ houses and rooms ar included in the Art Preserve. (A Jacobs photo)

To stay within COVID protocols visitors should register their anticipated arrival time before leaving home. Once there, take all the time you want but allow for two hours.

If familiar with the parent museum you probably guessed the bathrooms are tiled with art (yes people go into each).

Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)
Bathroom tile (A Jacobs photo)

A good place for lunch is the Café over at the Kohler Art Center where you order at a small counter and the food is brought to your table. My husband and I each had a superb salad.

We spent the day in Sheboygan but it only is about three hours from our destination in Door County so it could have fit into the morning.

However, the Art Preserve is worth a return trip.

The Art P:reserve is at 3636 Lower Falls Road, Sheboygan, WI. find more information at Kohler Art Preserve. The JM Kohler Art Center is at 608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, WI.

Chicago International Film Festival


After cancelling shows and closing theaters due to COVID last year, Chicago has reopened this fall.

The Lyric Opera is back as well as Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre and Broadway in Chicago. So come enjoy live theater.

But while in town check out the Chicago International Film Festival Oct 13-24.

Begun in 1964 by filmmaker and graphic artist Michael Kutza it promotes diverse subjects and filmmakers.

If in town Oct. 13 try to snag a ticket for the 7 p.m. showing of the French Dispatch or Halloween Kills at 10 p.m., both at the Music Box Theatre.

Or at 7 p.m. go to the Chitown Movies drive-in  to see The Velvet Underground.  For more film-fest showings visit the presenting organization’s Cinema Chicago – Upcoming Events Calendar and look at the Filmfestt Guide for kickoff ideas.


Two comets put on meteor displays in October


Meteor shower Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)


First, watch for the Draconids. They are overhead now but best is to look for them at their peak Oct. 8-9, 2021

Emanating from the debris of comet 21P/Giacobinib-Zinner, the Draconids’ typical output is only about 10 meteors per hour although it famously shot hundreds of meteors across the sky back in 2011 and in 1945.

The good news is that the best time to watch for them is shortly after dark so you don’t have to wait until after midnight.

The meteor shower derives its name from its radiant point near the head of constellation Draco the Dragon in the northern sky.

Then, put the Orionids on your calendar for Oct. 21, 2021. They are the second meteor shower this year to come from comet Halley. It  produced the Eta-Aquarids in May.

Producing about 20 meteors per hour their radiant point is the constellation Orion.

For more info visit Time and Date and Earth Sky.