Harvest Moon says fall is here

 

Full Moon in September is the Harvest Moon. ( J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon in September is the Harvest Moon. ( J Jacobs photo)

You might not have heard of the Sturgeon Moon in August or the Buck Moon in July but chances are you’ve heard of the Harvest Moon that is appearing overhead now in September.

It’s more than just a popular song.

Harvest Moon is the name some cultures, native tribes and farmers have given to the full moon that usually appears mid to late September because it rises when the sun goes down thus giving famers more light to get the crops in.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September autumnal equinox. In 2021 that comes Sept. 22 when day and night are about equal in length. (It comes in March in the Southern Hemisphere)

You probably noticed that large golden orb already appearing above the horizon. It will be fullest and brightest Sept. 20, about 6:45 p.m. CDT. but will also appear full the following day.

If listening to TV weather reports, you are likely to hear meteorologists referencing the date as the beginning of autumnal fall but adding that meteorological fall began about 3 weeks before the September equinox on Sept. 1.

Autumnal fall ends at  the December Solstice, when astronomical winter begins. but for meteorologists the fall season ends Nov. 30.

Check Time and Date for more more equinox information and go to the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more full moon facts and folklore.

 

 

Civilian space travel launches tonight for three day orbit

 Inspiration4 crew with their Crew Dragon spacecraft. (Photo credit: Inspiration4)
Inspiration4 crew with their Crew Dragon spacecraft. (Photo credit: Inspiration4)

Watch the first all-civilian space launch and flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida  beginning Sept. 15 at Space.com.

Called Inspiration4, the mission is organized by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman,  to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Isaacman, the mission commander, will be accompanied by three other crewmembers for a three-day flight around the earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission will be using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Lift off is scheduled from Launch Complex 39A at the NASA Space Center during a five-hour window beginning 8:02 p.m. EDT (0002 Sept. 16 GMT). However, the action can be seen at watch launch here and the Space.com homepage starting at 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 GMT), courtesy of SpaceX. Splashdown is expected to be in the Atlantic Ocean.

Netflix will also stream a live webcast of the launch countdown on YouTube beginning one hour before liftoff, and you can watch that live here.

Also on the mission are geoscientist/science communicator Sian Proctor as pilot, plus physician assistant Hayley Arcenaux as chief medical officer and data engineer Chris Sembroski as a mission specialist.

The mission is expected to pave the way for future private space travel. To see an interview with Issaacman and Arcenaux visit video.

 

 

 

Do a fun visit to a Chicago tourist site

 

Chicago's Picasso ( J Jacobs photo)
Chicago’s Picasso ( J Jacobs photo)

Local volunteers have been taking visitors and residents through neighborhoods, popular tour sites and lesser known gem locations since 2002.

To celebrate them on the 6th Annual International Greeter Day the city is inviting the public to Explore Chicago Sept 18, 2021 with any of three personalized guided classic tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT.

The tours: The Loop, Historic Chinatown and Chicago Riverwalk, will meet at Millennium Park at the southwest tent that borders the great lawn. Scavenger hunt experiences will be included at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m.  Tours are free and pre-registration is not required. Walk-ups are welcome.

In addition to the International Greeters Day event, Chicago Greeters have launched three new initiatives  2021.

Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks

Led by diverse groups and organizations, the tours highlight community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds.

Instagreeter Downtown Meet Ups

Designed to offer visitors a quick, flexible tour option, these one-hour tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with no reservation required.

Self-Guided Greeter Tours

Presented by Bank of America, these self-guided itineraries provide visitors and locals with curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems. Through video, blog, and social content, this series spotlights six Chicago neighborhoods.

For more information about the Chicago Greeters program, visit Chicago Greeter.

Take a staycation or vacation with great room views and where food and entertainment lies steps outside

 

Navy Pier fireworks (Photo courtesy of Navy Pier)
Navy Pier fireworks (Photo courtesy of Navy Pier)

If not interested in flying or taking a long driving trip this Labor Day Weekend, consider making Navy Pier your destination.

Now that Hilton has built The Sable Hotel on Navy Pier, it makes sense to stay where fireworks fill the sky Wednesdays and Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend, delicious dishes please all ages, music and entertainment is free on the Lake Stage and the Beer Garden, movies are shown at the Lake Stage Lawn in Polk Park across the Pier’s entrance through \August, and the Centennial Wheel is a ride you’ll want to take each day of the stay.

After dining at Harry Carey’s Tavern or Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bar and Grill, take in the views and while sipping well-crafted cocktails at the Offshore Rooftop and Bar, possibly the country’s larges rooftop terrace.

If there Aug. 28, 2021 spend the evening at Navy Pier’s Lake Stage to watch Resurgence, a program showcasing Chicago’s black dance companies. Look for times, tickets and other entertainment options at Cultural Attractions & Public Spaces.

If getting out on the water that lies just outside your door is too tempting to miss while staying so close, check the cruises that pull right up to the Pier.

 

 

 

August full moon a bit fishy

 

Full moon over Chicago's northern suburbs. 9J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago’s northern suburbs. 9J Jacobs photo)

Enjoy our bright sky light all weekend. The moon will appear full Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 but it really will be opposite the sun Sunday morning at 8:02 a.m. and even look full on Monday.

According to the Farmer’s almanac the Algonquin tribes in the northeastern states called the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon because these fish were usually more easily caught in the Great Lakes then.

A rather ugly, large fish, sturgeon ancestors date back to the time dinosaurs roamed the region. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a permanent exhibit about these Great Lake fish.

But the August Moon is also called a blue moon even though that definition typically refers to two full moons in one month. In this case the referral is to full moons in one season.

For more names and full moon information visit NASA and Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Illinois State Fair still a summer getaway

 

Illinois State Fair. (photo courtesy of Illinois.gov)
Illinois State Fair. (photo courtesy of Illinois.gov)

It’s not too late to go to the  Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Think food, carnival rides, food, free entertainment, food, a twilight parade harness, tech exhibits, auto racing and food.

An easy three-hour drive south from Chicago, it’s about two miles in from Interstate 55 at the Sangamon Ave. exit 100 B.

Even though the 2021 fair started Aug. 12, it continues through Aug. 22 with  daily special events and a new, must check-out, Tech Prairie STEAM Expo that opens Aug. 18 in the Orr Building.

The STEAM (like STEM) Expo features drone racing, interactive exhibits, Esport competitions and demonstrations. Go to the STEAM Expo website for drone racing and Esports competition registration links,  exhibitors, livestreaming links and schedule of events at www.illinois.gov/steamexpo.

What you should know

Bring a mask for indoor exhibits

Find general information at General Info (illinois.gov.

Look for the Daily schedule illinois.gov to find events during your visit.

Hours: The Fairgrounds are open from 7 a.m. to Midnight.

General admission is Children (0-12) , free; Adults (13-59)   $10 (Fridays & Saturdays) and  Adults (13-59)  $5 (other days) and Seniors (60+)  $3.

Parking is $5 daily.

The State fairgrounds are at 801 E. Sangamon Ave.,  Springfield, IL.(

(The ramps to exit Sangamon Ave to I-55 are closed for construction so  detour to Sherman or Clear Lake Ave. exits for I-55. For ideas on what to do and what you will see go to  Rides and Attractions – Rides and Attractions (illinois.gov)

Visit the STEAM Expo website for drone racing and Esports competition registration links, a list of exhibitors, livestreaming links and schedule of events at www.illinois.gov/steamexpo.

The Perseid meteor shower is back

 

The Perseids produce more than 40 meteors per hour. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Put August 11 on your calendar to watch the night sky. The best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be entertaining night sky watchers with at least  40 fireballs an hour when they peak next week. However, they have been known to rack up as many as 100 meteors per hour.

As debris from comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseid Meteor Shower occurs  annually when earth’s orbit takes it near the comet’s path from the end of July to mid-August. The meteors are already zooming across the sky but in 2021 the peak is Aug. 11-13.

If you like company or have trouble seeing them, tune into NASA which has invited everyone to watch with them. Watch time is Aug. 11-12 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. CDT on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

If weather is a problem,  there is likely to be a second chance Aug. 12-13. The livestream is hosted by the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

A crescent moon will be setting early so moonlight shouldn’t be a factor. Watch between midnight and  dawn away from city lights. Some folks  stretch out on blankets but if the ground is dewy damp pull out a lawn chair.

Don’t worry if you don’t see any meteors right away. It takes a few minutes to adapt to the night sky. The meteor shower radiant appears to be above Perseus.

Good sky-watching references include Time and Date and Earth and Sky.

.

 

 

 

Buck Moon crosses the July sky

American Indians and farmers (among other groups) associate each full moon with animal and plant seasons. So when looking up July 23-24 think of that large orb moving westward across the sky as the Buck Moon because those deer are growing their antlers now. Or call it the Hay Moon because farmers usually load their hay in barns now away from storms.

It will look full for a few days but optimal fullness is when it is directly opposite the sun. In central part of the United States that is July 23 at 9:37 CDT.

Two good places to learn about full moon names in different cultures are NASA Solar System Exploration and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Also EarthSky has full moon related planet information.

 

 

 

 

A Galena getaway

Main Street downtown Galena. (J Jacobs photo)
Main Street downtown Galena. (J Jacobs photo)

Tucked into the northwest corner of Illinois is the historic Mississippi hillside town of Galena. Its gorgeous fall color draws visitors from mid-September to Halloween, so if going then, book your stay now (weekdays are better).

But the shops, the mid-to late 1800’s structures, charming inns and good food make Galena a fun break in the routine pretty much any time of year. (Folks come here to ski Chestnut Mountain even if not every shop is open)

An easy three-hour drive from Chicago on I 90, the vacation begins when turning before Rockford onto US 20, General Ulysses S. Grant Highway when the four-lane expressway becomes a scenic two-lane road.

The historic hillside town of Galena, IL (J Jacobs photo)
The historic hillside town of Galena, IL (J Jacobs photo)

As you wind through the hills of Stephenson and Jo Davies Counties, you may realize you are on a ridge with grand vistas of lush valleys.

Although you can continue north through Galena to cross the Mississippi at East Dubuque into Iowa (and go the The Field of Dreams baseball movie destination), Galena is a getaway destination, itself.

Go back in time

Indian tribes roamed the area. then it was settled by French traders and explorers. However, the town flourished in the early 1800s when galena ore (lead) boats plied the Mississippi River. It then became a gateway west when Ulysses S. Grant’s family lived and worked here in the mid-1800s.

Historic staircase in the Desoto House Hotel. (J Jacobs photo)
Historic staircase in the Desoto House Hotel. (J Jacobs photo)

Galena was on the stage coach route (there still are some stage coach signs). Then by 1854, the rail line went through making it a natural stop for Abraham Lincoln who used the balcony of the Desoto House Hotel on Main Street to campaign for John Fremont in 1856. The Desoto House was also the campaign headquarters for Grant. Go in to see its staircase and ask about a tour.

A couple of other good stops are the old  railroad depot on the south side of the Galena River. It houses the Galena Area Tourism Bureau. Also on that side of the river is Gen US Grant’s home built for him as the town’s favorite son.

Ask about walking tours when at the depot. The Galena Historic District covers about 85 percent of the city and includes some 800 properties that were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

Birdhouses at Red's in Galena (J Jacobs photo)
Birdhouses at Red’s in Galena (J Jacobs photo)

Shop

Think food, boutiques and quirky shops when strolling downtown Galena’s Main Street.

When pulling onto the street from US 20 I spied the cheese and wine store that I knew was there. But the unknown treasure was Red’s Iron Yard and Wholesale Barn a few stores down. I loved the roosters and birdhouses in front. My husband was drawn to the antique toy trucks in back.

Another fun store was Celebrity Hats on the other side of the street. Go in. Find your style.

Celebrity Hats (J Jacobs photo)
Celebrity Hats (J Jacobs photo)

Among the taste treats on the street were two chocolate stores and a patisserie that also did cocktails and sandwiches. Really. Called Bread & Vine, it did good macarons, lovely desserts and yummy sandwiches including a Croque Monsieur and savory croissant with smoked salmon.

There are a couple of chains but most of the stores are unique.

Dine

Outside Fried Green Tomatoes. (J Jacobs photo)
Outside Fried Green Tomatoes. (J Jacobs photo)

Some folks journey to Galena just for the Fried Green Tomatoes restaurant. You do need a reservation. The place is that popular. I made ours before leaving town. It is known for its steaks but we chose seafood because we know everything there is well prepared and we had meat before we left.  The front of the restaurant is on Main Street but its outdoor space is behind it where people park. This end of the street is blocked off for outdoor, curb and street side tables.

Also good is the historic Desoto House. It has three restaurants that are  open at different times of the day. For lunch we did the Green Street Tavern where I had the best garlic French fries ever tasted with a delish pulled pork sandwich. My husband had an apple and mixed berry salad  with walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette .

Our dinner the night before we left was at Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill at the Irish Cottage where we were staying. I liked their beer battered cod and seasoned Irish chips. My husband liked the traditional corned beef.

The snug at O'Dowd's Pub and Grill (J Jacobs photo)
The snug at O’Dowd’s Pub and Grill (J Jacobs photo)

Stay

Galena has several B and Bs. Check the Galena Country tourism  stay/site for ideas. We liked the Irish cottage for its first-floor patio suites but there were several other places that also looked good including the Goldmoor Inn which is a Select Registry on the road to Chestnut Mountain and the Chestnut Mountain Resort.  Both have good views and friendly service.

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa about six miles outside town has now reopened for golf, events and regular tourist traffic.

Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

Where to celebrate July Fourth with fireworks and celebrities

DC Fireworks (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)
DC Fireworks (Photo courtesy of PBS and Capitol Fourth)

This July 4th, toast our country’s Independence Day with family and friends or just your pet who hates firecracker sounds to watch “A Capital Fourth” from Washington D.C.

What

Hosted and broadcasted by PBS, the show starts at 8 p.m. ET with a star spangled list of performers, the National Symphony Orchestra and members of the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, “Pershing’s Own” U.S. Army Band,  the Joint Armed forces Chorus and the Armed forces color Guard.

It ends with spectacular fireworks filling the Capitol sky to the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s ” 1812 Overture.

Performers

Hosted by recording  artist/Broadway/TV star Vanessa Williams, top names in pop, R&B, country, Broadway and classical entertainment will perform from their pre-taped locations across the country. World-renowned four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renée Fleming opens the show in Washington DC with the national anthem.

Hear music legend Jimmy Buffett, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner Cynthia Erivo in Southern California; platinum country music icon  Alan Jackson from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and Grammy Award-winning artists Pentatonix from Los Angeles.

Also watch Gammy-winning country star Jennifer Nettles from the famed Town Hall in NYC’s Town Hall with the Broadway Inspirational Voices; actress/singer Auli’i Cravalho from the Unisphere; the multi-Grammy Award-winning band Train  from near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Entertainers recorded in Washington, DC include the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight; country music star Mickey Guyton; Tony Award-winning Broadway and television personality Ali Stroker;  ACM New Male Artist of the Year,  multi-platinum country music singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen and Broadway star Laura Osnes

The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by top pops conductor Jack Everly, will play John Williams’  “Olympic Fanfare” in tribute to the  members of Team USA who are getting ready for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.  The concert also honors members of the military and their families for their contributions and dedication to service.

When and How

The 41st annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth airs on PBS Sunday, July 4, 2021 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The program can also be heard in stereo over NPR member stations nationwide, and will be streaming on FacebookYouTube and at A Capitol Fourth.