Early bird catches a partial solar eclipse Thursday

Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Folks in northern Canada can catch  the best part of June 10’s  eclipse event as the new moon’s orbit moves it across the sky to block the sun.

In the US, the best areas to see it are north and east such as in New York City where the eclipse magnitude will be 80 percent and last for more than an hour after sunrise. .

Chicago area residents will be able to see an eclipse, it just will be a partial one and not last long. Thus, the best way to catch it is after getting protective glasses or using an alternative viewing method, to look to the horizon when the sun appears.

That means watching beginning at 5:15 a.m. through 5:39 a.m. Compared to the north east including NYC’s high magnitude, Chicago’s magnitude will be 35 percent at 5:18 a.m.

Two good sites for information on this solar eclipse event are Time and Date and Space.

Coming Eclipse Season features a remarkable Supermoon

Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)

 

Maybe you think of winter, spring, summer and fall as your year’s seasons but astronomers also have at least one other seasonal time frame: Eclipse Season. It is the short period when a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse happen near each other.

Coming up is a short lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021. Don’t blink because you may miss it.

It is called short because totality lasts just a bit more than 14 minutes. According to astronomers, that is the 10th shortest totality for a lunar eclipse between the years 1600 and 2599.

To better understand what will be happening,  know that during the lunar eclipse a full moon will be moving through the Earth’s umbral shadow and be fully in that shadow for slightly more than 14 minutes. But the entire movement through the shadow will be about three hours.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that the part of the United States where you are watching the eclipse will matter as to totality with west of the Mississippi River better than east.

But as TV commercials say Wait. The eclipse is just part of May’s lunar special event. Because the May full moon’s orbit takes it closer to Earth than the year’s other full moons, it will be 2021’s best and brightest Supermoon. During the eclipse, it will appear as a blood moon.

The lunar event is followed by an annular solar eclipse on June 10. That eclipse’s partial phases will make it the 5th longest worldwide for an annular solar eclipse that happens in the same season as a total lunar eclipse.

But forget about blinking. Proper glasses or other safety precautions are needed to protect your eyesight.

EarthSky has an excellent summary of Eclipse Season. Also see Time and Date  for information on both the lunar and solar eclipses this year and in the future.

 

 

Meteorites skim planet Earth this week

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

The Eta Aquarids, the first half of Halley’s Comet’s two rounds of meteor showers, peak May 4-6, 2021. The two meteor showers are debris from Comet Halley as Earth  passes through the comet’s path around the Sun.

Seen in both hemispheres, the Southern Hemisphere arguably offers a better view now when its radiant, the Aquarius constellation, is overhead and Northern is better for its second round, the Orionids, in October. But both meteor showers are popular with sky watchers.

After acclimating your sight to the night, look in the southern sky for Eta Aquarii, the constellation’s brightest star. Depending on the weather, you may be treated to more than 30 meteorites per hour.

The moon, now in its waning crescent phase should not be a factor, particularly if watching for the meteorites early on May 6 before dawn.

For moon phases visit Moon Phases 2021 – Lunar Calendar (timeanddate.com). For times to watch in your area, check Time and Date. For more information visit NASA In Depth. For more Eta Aquarid and Comet Halley info see Space.

 

Supermoon

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

Forget about turning off the light that may be keeping you up on April 26-27. It’s streaming in through the windows from upstairs, outside. However, the source will have seemed larger earlier in the evening.

What’s shining through the windows if the sky is clear, is not merely a full moon. The orb outside is a Supermoon. It really isn’t larger. It just plays tricks on the eyes and perspective as it appears huge when first appearing at the horizon and in early evening.

The April full moon, also known as the “Pink Moon”  is a Supermoon because it will be closer to Earth than most other full moons. The exception being the full moon in May 26, called the “Flower Moon” that will be even closer.

Some astronomy sites only designate the April and May full moons  as Supermoons. Other sites include June 24’s which is also close. Still other sites include the March full moon which was fairly close.

For times to watch or photograph the moon check. EarthSky. The site also has the April, May June, 2021 Supermoons’ distances from the moon to Earth with April 27 at 222,212 miles (357,615 km), May 26 at 222,089 miles (357,462km) and June 24 at 224,662 miles (361,558 km).

If interested in how this all happens, you should know about the lunar perigee. It’s when the moon’s orbit brings it to its closest point to Earth. The opposite is apogee.

Of course, the third factor is where the earth is in relation to the moon and the sun to be a full moon. So, the April Supermoon actually happens about 12 hours short of it lunar perigee and May’s Supermoon falls about nine hours after perigee. The reason some sites refer just to April and May’s full moons as Supermoons is because less than 24 hours occur between the perigee and full moon phase.

Next, don’t be surprised if bothered with sinus trouble and  have a full-moon sized headache. Because the pull of the full moon, particuclarly the Supermoon, does influence the tides, lore has it that their affect on humans and animals can also be felt.

For more information visit Time and Date and see TimeandDate /picture tips and visit NASA. moons. For an expert opinion on which full moons to include in the Supermoon category, visit Space.

 

 

Chicago area ideas to treat Mom

Chicago Botanic Garden is a spring and Mother's Day destination. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Chicago Botanic Garden is a spring and Mother’s Day destination. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Even though Mother’s Day isn’t until May 9 in 2021, reservations fill fast so now is the time to figure out something special. The ideas listed here: Stay, Play, Eat, Treat, Spa and Ooh La La, can also apply elsewhere so consider them a guide. For parts two and three in this series visit Chicago Theater and Arts and Dining Out-Eating In.

Stay

Deer Path Inn
A historic 1929 hostelry

Book a room or suite at the Deer Path Inn, a historic 1929  hostelry that would fit well in a British town but actually is in Lake Forest, IL. Ranked No 1 Resort Hotel in the Midwest and 18th in the world, according to Travel & Leisure, it s a block from the town’s historic Market Square and Metra train station.

Do try an authentic Afternoon English tea while there.

Or reserve a room with a view at Sable  at Navy Pier. A new hotel in the Hilton Curio Collection it features Offshore, supposedly the world’s largest roof-top bar. Outside the door, stroll Navy Pier which reopens April 30, 2021 and ride its famed Centennial Wheel (Check ahead for ride tickets).

Play

Relax on a scenic boat ride that starts on the Chicago River near Michigan Avenue. Among the choices are the popular architectural tours on Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s River Cruise on the First Lady.

Or stroll the paths, scenic water features and see what’s blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Go online ahead of time to get a parking pass because there is timed entry and Mother’s Day is very popular here.

Eat

Do brunch at any of the Wildberry Pancake Restaurants. Service is good and it’s family friendly so its okay to bring kids and grandkids. There are two locations in Chicago, one in Libertyville and one in Schaumburg  Wildberry Cafe Chicago

Or enjoy a French Toast Flight at Batter and Berries in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. BTW they also have delish omelets, breakfast sandwiches and waffles.

Treat

Ambrosia, a Barrington patisserie. (J Jacobs photo)
Ambrosia, a Barrington patisserie. (J Jacobs photo)

Pick up a cake, torte or pastry from a great patisserie. Hard to decide what to get when looking at the lineup of cakes, croissants and chocolate treats at Ambrosia, a European style patisserie in the northwest suburb of Barrington.

 

The same is true of Vanille a French patisserie in the  Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Spa

Get Mom a gift certificate for the Peninsula Spa Chicago.  She can use the pool before or afterwards or just sit along side it to view the Magnificent Mile. Hotel.

Or get a gift certificate for the Midtown operated spa at the Hyatt Lodge, Oakbrook. The Lodge has nice grounds and spa.

Ooh la la

Say Happy Mother’s Day as if it were Valentine’s Day with candy and flowers.

The Chicago area has several good candy shops. Among them is Sweets in Lake Forest that is also known for its ice cream and Amy’s Candy Bar in Ravenswood. Both are local favorites that may become your new go-to place.

For flower arrangements and plant pots with a little oomf to them check out Phillip’s and Athena.

Watch for Lyrid meteors this week

 

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Assuming the weather cooperates, early risers should have no trouble spotting a fireball zooming across the sky shortly before dawn in the next few days. The Lyrids meteor shower is happening now.

They seem to be shooting out (radiant) from the Lyric constellation just northwest of its bright Vega star. They are debris from the comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), first noted more than 2,500 years ago.

The best days to look for them are April 21-22 when the Lyrids are expected to peak at about 18 meteors an hour. Pre dawn is the best time to watch because the moon is waxing gibbous so its illumination won’t be a factor after it sets.

For the time to watch in your zone visit Time and Date. For more information on where to look visit Space which has a map to help find the radiant. For more basic meteor and Lyrid information visit NASA Lyrids.

 

Road info to know before you go

 

I90 and O'Hare info road changes to know (J Jacobs)
I90 and O’Hare info road changes to know (J Jacobs)

Now that more folks are vaccinated, travel and local road traffic has picked up. If traveling around your state or through other states check their department of transportation website’s for road closures and expected delays. In Illinois it is IDOT closures.

Among the latest info releases is one from the Chicago Department of Aviation regarding O’Hare international Airport.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) the Kennedy Expressway will be working on a configuration change between Harlem Avenue and Interstate 190 beginning April 15 at 5 a.m. and continuing until fall, 2021.

As a result, westbound motorists on I-90 will merge onto a new collector-distributor road just after Canfield Avenue to access the I-190 ramps to O’Hare. The merge is about one mile before the current ramp access. Motorists should expect delays or use alternate routes.

More information on the Kennedy Expressway improvement work is available from IDOT Roadway Information.

In addition the lower level of the O’Hare pickup area is under construction until sometime in 2022 so better pick up options are for cars to park then meet guests.

A different kind of helicopter

 

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, 2021, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, 2021, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Escape from our earthly pandemic April 12, 2021 via NASA.

Tune in to NASA Live or NASA online early, actually very early, Monday morning when, if all goes as planned, Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, will be seen moving and hovering beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT.

A post flight briefing is planned for 11 a.m. EDT, April 12.

Ingenuity’s inaugural flight will livestream to (hopefully) demonstrate the first powered flight on another planet.

Don’t expect the kind of helicopter tour often touted for visiting Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. Ingenuity will be starting out slow and low in Mars’ freezing temperatures and thin air. If all goes well, it will move just a few feet up and hover a few seconds before landing.

‘That will be a major milestone: the very first powered flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars, ” said a NASA statement.

Ingenuity demonstrations are expected to continue with greater altitude and distance for approximately 31 Martian days (sols). Then, Perseverance will continue its exploratory mission.

The helicopter was attached to the Perseverance rover that landed at the Jezero Crater on Mars, Feb. 18, 2021. Perseverance released Ingenuity upon reaching what was considered to be a good “helipad.”

For this and more NASA events visit NASAonline.

 

Full moon will appear super

The Moon, or Supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky)
The Moon, or Supermoon, is seen as it rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC. A Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsky)

If the light of the moon was keeping you up last night it’s because the first full moon of spring is March 28 but looks full March 27 and March 29.

And because this spring (Northern Hemisphere) full moon is closer to earth than the ones in January and February it appears brighter and is considered by some sky watchers as a “Supermoon.”

Actually, its perigee (closest part of its orbit) is March 30 so it still will continue to appear very bright and mostly full.

Don’t worry if your area is cloudy. The full moons  in April, May and June will be even closer and will look like Supermoons.

Called  the Worm Moon, Crow Moon or Sap Moon by some native American tribes, this full moon also sets Easter, which, in 2021, is April 4.  See Tonight | EarthSky

Fun Fact:  Do you know what syzygy means?  It’s when three bodies, such as the Sun, Earth, and the Moon, are in alignment. See Time and Date for the term and alignment.

Time and Date also does an excellent job of explaining how long the moon really is fully illuminated and why due to the earth’s tilt it may not appear at total illumination, noting that the degree of illumination somewhat blends what appears to be a Full Moon and the last stage of a Waxing Gibbous Moon or the beginning of a Waning Gibbous Moon.

On NASA’s site a sidebar tells that the term “supermoon” was “coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth.’

The site also connects the first spring moon’s names from native Americans and different religions. It notes that this weekend’s Full moon is also called the Pesach moon on the Jewish calendar, Paschal moon for Western Christianity and Medin in SRI Lanka.

For more word definitions and moon phases visit Space.

Spring Vacation Destination Part Two: Presidential location

Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)
Rte 66 sign across from the Art Institute of Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. ( J Jacobs photo)

With COVID cases down and more people having received vaccines, travel has picked up. However, health officials still considered driving as a better alternative to flying.

In the Midwest a drive to Springfield, IL means following Route 66 for road buffs and finding that the Lincoln Museum is way better than a family may expect. It is something to experience.


Springfield, IL

Driving RTE 66 west to LA sounds awesome but if you’re a Midwesterner with only a long weekend or a Spring Break week,  look closer to home. Think Springfield, Illinois’ state capital on historic US Rte. 66.

Getting Started – if you call Chicago ‘home’ your city marks the beginning or ending (however you see it) of Rte. 66. Just don’t try to find the number on current maps. Today’s interstates connect the road’s big cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Los Angeles (remember the song) and such smaller, interesting towns as Litchfield, IL and Kingman, AZ.

To start out historically, begin near the Art Institute of Chicago (supposedly it started at Jackson Bvd. The sign is on Adams across Michigan Avenue from the museum so take Adams Street west to Joliet Road and onto Interstate 55. Or take your easiest way to the I-294 Tri-State Tollway where you can connect with I-55 (known in Chicago as the Stevenson Expressway). In Illinois, I-55 basically follows historic Rte 66. Illinois has posted Route 66 signs along the popular old road west.

Tip: Chicago to Springfield is about 197 miles so plan about 3 ½ hours. The police do patrol the highway so enjoy the scenery. Remember, you are on vacation.

Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)
Visitors join the Lincoln family at the museum in Springfield. 9J Jacobs photo)

Go – Springfield is about Lincoln, about state government, about historic homes.

Lincoln – Renew your acquaintance with the 16th President at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. You will be in for a remarkable two hours. Yes plan to spend that amount of time to see the movies and exhibits that peel away the myths from the man and the times.

The Old Capitol building is normally open to visitors but It is supposed to be closed for updating in 2021 so you might only get pictures outside.

Go across from it to the Springfield Visitors Center in the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office at 1 S. Old State Capitol Plaza. It may still be closed for renovations but see the building from the outside.

Yes it's OK to touch Lincoln's nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)
Yes it’s OK to touch Lincoln’s nose at his tomb. ( Jacobs photo)

Lincoln’s home, operated by the National Park Service, is currently available virtually but the neighborhood can be toured.

Drive north of downtown to the Lincoln Tomb where he, his wife and three of their four children are buried.

Back to downtown, the dome of the Illinois State Capitol, 361 feet above ground, can be seen from miles away. Go inside to see where legislation has been argued and passed from 1888 to today in the House and Senate chambers on the third floor. Some of the building may be closed to the public due to COVID restrictions.

Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. (J Jacobs photo)s
Springfield is home to a fine example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. (J Jacobs photo)

Historic homes include a Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the best examples of his work is the Dana Thomas House in Springfield. It still has all of its original art glass and much of its original furnishings. Also put the Vachel Lindsay Home on the itinerary. Built in the late 1840’s, the house was home to Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister Ann. Vachel Lindsay’s parents bought the house in 1878. It was the poet’s home until his death in 1931.

Route 66 – Springfield loves historic Route 66. Some of the old places are gone but newly renovated stops have added to the fun.  Visitors can go back in time by taking in a double feature at the Route 66 Drive In or stop for a bite at the Cozy Dog Drive In, a diner at 2935 S. Sixth St. where the Waldmire family make the famed hot dog on a stick served since 1946.  More place can be found on Legendary Route 66.

Lincoln's New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)
Lincoln’s New Salem. (J Jacobs photo)

Save time to see Lincoln’s New Salem.  It is a terrific reconstructed village about 20 minutes northwest of Springfield on IL Hwy 97.  Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site has been recreated with the timbered homes and stores that existed when a young Abe Lincoln worked there.

Where to stayVisit Springfield is a great resource for places to stay. If you like historic inns and B&B’s consider The Inn at 835. An early 1900’s former apartment house, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If retro 1950’s is more your style check out The State House Inn which recently underwent a redo. Both places feature complimentary breakfasts and free parking. The last is a plus in Springfield where visitors have to feed the meters.

Tip – Wear comfortable shoes and bring the sunscreen. This is a walking town.

For more information see Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and  State Historic Sites Springfield.