Super Supermoon Monday is here

Did you see the supermoon last night or, if an early, early bird, this morning when it was supposed to be closest to Earth and at its fullest?

Supermoon over Chicago's northern suburbs Nov. 14, 2016 at 5:10 a.m. CT
Supermoon over Chicago’s northern suburbs Nov. 14, 2016 at 5:10 a.m. CT. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

You can photograph it any time but to have it appear larger than other full moons best is to take it low, not high in the sky and near something that might give it size dimension such as a building or tree.

You have time to snap a photo tonight and even Tuesday when it starts to wane but still looks full. Just make time to do it because even though you may have seen the one Oct. 16 and may catch the last of 2016’s three supermoons on Dec. 14, those two full moons aren’t as close.

The next supermoon as close to Earth as the one now will be Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA.

If wondering what makes this supermoon different than the others this year it relates to the moon’s orbit. Supermoons are full or new moons that are within 90 percent of their perigee – the closest point to Earth of the moon’s orbit. The current supermoon appears larger than others because this time it reaches total fullness very close to its perigee, not just somewhat near it.

Perigee comes was at 5:23 Central Time today, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016. The moon crested at 7:52 CT.

You will see the supermoon reference on several respected space and sky websites but it isn’t an astronomy term. Instead it is attributable to astrologer Richard Nolle and originates in 20th century astrology about 1979.

Photo of supermoon and stoplight looks like a watercolor but was taken through a car window Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. CT. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Photo of supermoon and stoplight looks like a watercolor but was taken through a car window Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. CT. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Now, set a timer to snap the moon tonight or early tomorrow morning so you can share on social media.

Cheers to the man in the moon!


Biggest supermoon in recent memory to appear

If the weather is good you should be able to see down the road without street lights Nov. 13-15, 2016. Full moons are typically bright. A full moon that is a supermoon because it is closer to Earth than normal is even brighter. The supermoon that starts next week is going to appear larger and outshine supermoons from the past 68 years.

The moon as seen from space. Photo compliments of NASA
The moon as seen from space. Photo compliments of NASA

That roundish object that is a space craft destination and the subject of mythology will be the closest it has been to earth since 1848. Or as sports fans might know, it was the year that the Indians last won baseball’s World Series.

There will be another supermoon on Dec. 14 this year but it won’t be quite as close. According to NASA, the next time a full moon will come as close to Earth as on Nov. 14, 2016 is Nov. 25, 2034.

It’s likely it will be hard to miss but Adler Planetarium astronomer Larry Ciupik had a couple of suggestions

“The closest it will be is at 5 a.m. (Central Time) the morning of Nov. 14,” Ciupik said. He pointed out that looking for the supermoon depends on the weather and time of night.

“When the sun sets, look east. Before the sun rises, look west. The moon rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west shortly before the sun rises,” he said.

He pointed out that it probably will look larger when it is on or near the horizon. “That is because when it is up high in the sky there is nothing to compare it to,” Ciupik said.

“That’s called moon illusion,” he said.

BTW, readers, the moon will look bright and large Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but it reaches its full crest early Monday morning. That will occur about the same time it reaches the perigee (technically perigee-syzgy) of its orbit. That is its closest point to Earth.

The opposite or farthest point of the moon’s orbit from the earth is its apogee-syzygy when it’s sometimes known as a mini-moon. Just remember that the orbit is elliptical, not round.

Other information can be found at NASA which is a good resource.


Cubs Parade 108 years in the making

When it takes more than a century to achieve a monumental goal the celebration has to attract millions of people, lots of speeches and selfies and photos for the album and social media. In other words, joyous crowds will carpet the parade route and rally. What you need to know is where to go and how.

Chicago Cubs Parade from Wrigley Field to Hutchinson Field in Grant Park.
Chicago Cubs parade from Wrigley Field to Hutchinson Field in Grant Park.

By now you probably heard or figured the fabulous 2016 World Championship Cubs will be coming downtown from Wrigley Field, today, Nov. 4, 2016. They start off at 10 a.m. and will end at Grant Park.

But what you need to know is that there are designated viewing areas: ballpark, Magnificent Mile and Grant Park.

Near the park it is Addison Street from Sheffield to Pine Grove Avenues. About 11 a.m. on the Mag Mile the parade is best viewed from Oak to Ohio Streets. At Grant Park it is Columbus Drive from Monroe to Balbo Drives.

Between viewing areas the parade vehicles will be going faster. The rally celebration will be at Lower Hutchinson Field about noon.

If you know Chicago, and there are thousands of fans in town from out of Illinois who don’t know that driving to the viewing areas and downtown is NOT a good idea even on a normal day, so you take the L and Metra trains. Buses are going but are rerouted.

Metra is doing its weekend $5 ticket all day Nov. 4. Just know that no bikes and alcohol will be allowed. There are extra trains running but if full they may pass your station so wait for the next one.

It may seem as if you have plenty of time but fans have already been gathering along the route so if not watching on TV, leave now, plan to celebrate downtown (the bars, restaurants and hotels are prepared for crowds, and return later.

Go Cubs Go!


Botanic Garden hosts “Jack-o-Lanterns” now and “Trains, Tricks, Treats, next weekend

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a really unusual night time path walk, this weekend or go next weekend to see the Model Railroad Garden turn ghostly for its seasonal farewell.

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

For a different Halloween experience you can still snag a ticket to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Jack-o’-Lantern celebration. That is if you and your kids don’t mind going late. Tickets still available tonight, Oct. 22, from 10 to 11 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 23 from 9:30 to 11 p.m.

Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo
Celebrate Halloween this weekend and next at the Chicago Botanic Garden. CBG Photo

More than a thousand pumpkins, all hand-carved as Chicago places, Halloween characters and garden “oh, ohs” (think Willis tower, Dracula and Venus flytrap) plus Day of the Dead-style artwork, will line a festival path. The path also passes Halloween dressed characters and goes through the Model Railroad garden where there are ghostly trains. Goodies can be bought on the Esplanade before taking the path. More food is available at the Fruit and Vegetable Garden.

Best plan is to buy tickets online ahead of time and bring the confirmation with you. The website says “sold out” but a call to the garden revealed that some tickets were still available at this printing. But tickets may be purchased at the Garden’s Information desk if still available.

Tickets are $14 adult members, $16 nonmembers, children ages three to 12 are $12 and $14, free to children age 2 and under. Parking is free to members. Nonmember parking can be bought in advance. Visit Night for 1000 Jack-o’-Lantern for more info.

Trains, Tricks and Treats

Or celebrate Halloween at the Botanic Garden next weekend, Oct. 29-30. The event marks the last chance to visit the Model Railroad Garden this year. Expect more than the usual trains. It will be decked out with spider webs, ghosts and goblins. Look for tiny trick-or-treaters and even bats in the scenery. Families can dress for trick or treat and find treats and treasures along the way.

Adults $ 6, seniors $5, children 3–12 yrs $4 age 2 and under, free. Members get $1 discount. For other information visit Trains. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG


Enjoy fall color as a day trip from Chicago

Stroll among paths of gold. Hike where every turn reveals another photo op. See the countryside on an old train or find a new scenic vista. Just go. Get out there where the leaves are still changing color and the weather isn’t too frosty.

Elegant Farmer

See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva
See fall color by boat in Lake Geneva. Photo compliments of Visit Lake Geneva

Maybe you have seen and tasted delicious apple pies in your grocery store from the Elegant Farmer. But the farm and its bakery, about 90 miles north of Chicago in Mukwonago, WI, is also a fun destination during its Autumn Harvest Festival. Festival hours are Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through Oct. 23, 2016.  Along with picking up yummy treats from its store, apples and pumpkins from its fields or taking a hay ride, the Elegant Farmer is one end of the turn-of–the-century’s East Troy Electric Railroad.  The train is a remnant of Wisconsin’s Interurban rail system. Train tickets are $12.50 adults, $10.50 seniors, $8 children age 3-11 and free to under 3. The Elegant Farmer is at 1545 Main Street · Mukwonago, WI 53149 at the crossroad of County Highways ES and J. For other information visit Elegant Farmer and call (262) 363-6770.

Lake Geneva

Cruise Geneva Lake or float over its town of Lake Geneva and the surrounding area in a hot-air balloon. Hike the path around the lake or do the zip line across a colorful tree canopy. There are so many ways to see fall color in Lake Geneva, WI you might decide to stay overnight. However, if you go, you might want to tie it in to the Canopy Tours Fall Festival, Oct. 22 or 23 where you get music, food, pumpkin painting and other activities and can watch the Pumpkin Drop from zip liners  (or participate if you do the zip line event). Lake Geneva is about 90 minutes north west of Chicago. For other information visit Lake Geneva or call (262) 248-9271.

Morton Arboretum

Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum
Golden paths await at Morton Arboretum. Photo compliments of Morton Arboretum

The Arboretum in west suburban Lisle is coming alive with color. Maples and oaks near parking lots 7 and 8 began changing two weeks ago as have the maples near parking lots 14 and 15. To find out more about the color changes and what’s blooming click on Fall Color Report. Or ask when you arrive. For fun take the Scarecrow Trail on the Meadow Lake Trail. The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Illinois Highway 53, Lisle, IL 60532. For other information visit Morton Arb and call (630) 968-0074.



Join the fun at Bank of America Chicago Marathon

More than 40,000 runners and thousands of supporters will be in Chicago this weekend for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 9, 2016. So, if you haven’t already made a dinner reservation downtown Chicago Friday or Saturday, consider eating out in the suburbs or waiting until late Sunday. But do join the fun downtown or in Chicago’s neighborhoods along the course. All you have to do is cheer on the runners to their best times or to merely finish the 26 mile 385 yard (42.195 kilometer) race.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Bank of America photo
Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Bank of America photo

If a friend or relative is running in the Chicago Marathon you have likely discussed where to watch and know that you can meet in Butler Field between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive north of Jackson Drive.

However, part of the fun of the race for spectators is to cheer runners with encourage signs, bells and words as they speed by. Bank of America, US Trust and Merrill Lynch have Cheer Zones with items you can use to give runners an extra lift.

The race starts at 7:30 a.m. The following times used here are for when runners pass are estimates.

Bank of America’s Zones are at Mile 13 at Monroe and Jefferson where runners are likely to go past after 8:27 a.m. and Mile 26 at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road near the finish line where runners will pass after 9:30 a.m.

US Trust’s Zone is about the halfway point (Miles 13-14) on Jefferson Street between Monroe and Adams Streets where runners will be seen after 8:28 a.m. Merrill Lynch’s zone is at Mile 16.5 at Halsted Street and Jackson to see runners after 8:47 a.m.

Spectators can also go to the Post-Race Party in Butler Field after 9 a.m. (There is security screening).

Just leave your car at home. Put on your walking/ running shoes or use Chicago’s CTGA system. Crowds will be jamming streets and sidewalks. In addition, some street closures such as Columbus Drive around Grant Park have already happened. Other streets on the course close at 7 a.m. Sunday (race day). Most will reopen by 2:30 p.m.

Maybe the race will inspire you to participate next year.

For other information visit Bank of America Chicago Marathon


Where to see or make a scarecrow

No question that pumpkin faces are fun to draw or carve but pumpkins abound wherever you turn around. However, do you know where you can see or make a scarecrow? Check out these suggestions.

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Chalet Garden Center Scarecrow Festival

The Chalet, a garden center across from Edens Plaza in north suburban Wilmette does a terrific job of helping folks celebrate fall and the winter holidays. Its shop is filled, literally to the rafters with witches at Halloween and you bump into large snowmen and Santas after Thanksgiving. But to add to the fall fun, it hosts a Scarecrow Festival the first weekend of October. This year, the festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2. The Chalet has heads and straw for you to use. Just bring some old clothes and you have a scarecrow to take home. The event is free. The Chalet Garden Center is at 3132 Lake Ave. at Skokie Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. For other information call (847) 256-0561 and visit Chalet.

St. Charles Scarecrow Festival

Scary and funny scarecrows take up residence downtown west suburban St. Charles the second weekend of October. This is the big one, the area’s largest scarecrow festival with more than 100 of those gangly, weird, straw people. The festival activities are all over downtown so there are zones. The scarecrow contest is in the Arcadia Theatre zone on Main Street between 4th and 5th. Walk among them and vote for you favorite. But don’t forget to check out those that are at the businesses in the Jewel Osco Zone on 3rd Street between State and Cedar Streets.. Both zones are on the west side of the Fox River. To make your own scarecrow, cross the bridge to the Baltria Vintage Auto Zone on the east side of the river, north of Main Street. There’s no charge. Tickets at the festival are for rides and food. Hours are Oct.7-8 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other information call the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 777-4373 and visit Scarecrowfest.

Tom’s Fall Festival

Drive out to the countryside of Huntley, a small town northwest of Chicago between Oct. 1st and Oct. 31 to see yard full of pumpkin families, a market where the aroma is apple and pumpkin pie and the garden center has what you need to make and take a scarecrow. You don’t have to bring any materials but the scarecrow workshop costs $20. There are lots of children’s activities from mazes to explore, animals to pet and bouncy constructions. The activities are pumpkin families activities are $7 children and $5 adults, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $10 adults and children Saturday, Sunday and Columbus Day. Saturday and Columbus Day hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Sunday is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tom’s is at 10214 Algonquin Road, Huntley, IL 60142. For other information call (847) 669-3421 and visit Toms.

Fall Family Fun

It’s nice to know what Chicago area events would appeal to different age youngsters. So here are four family events to put on the calendar.

Penguins and Fall Fests

Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove to open. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove to open. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo

 Lincoln Park Zoo members get a peek of the new Penguin Cove the mornings of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The penguins are cute to watch but there will also be expert chats and children’s crafts. Hours are Friday 9 to 11 a.m. and Saturday 8 to 10 a.m. Penguin Cove opens to the public beginning daily on Oct. 6. For other information visit  Penguins.

Every weekend from Sept. 30 through Oct. 30 is Fall Fest at the zoo. Think corn maze, crafts, games, pumpkin carving and music. Pumpkins can be bought from the Pumpkin Patch near the Wild things Gift Shop. The fest is free but some attractions require tickets. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614. For other information visit fall fest.


Continue reading “Fall Family Fun”

Another reason to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden

Drive into the Chicago botanic Garden on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe but instead of trying to park in the lot closest to the Information entrance, turn left into Lot 6. That’s because the Garden, a 385-acre fun destination any time of year, has a new attraction worth exploring as of Sept. 10, 2016.

Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs
Youngsters climb, roll and explore a new nature play area at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo: Jodie Jacobs

Its  new, three-plus acre area bears the lofty title of Regenstein Learning Campus, however, the grounds are a place to play and explore.

Youngsters roll down grassy mounds, wriggle through tree trunk tunnels and splash along a  shallow, winding rivulet in the Nature Play Garden reminiscent of  TV’s “Teletubby” landscape.

Other connected outside areas can be visited but are used for pre-school and older activities and for aquatic learning. Inside the Learning Campus building are preschool spaces, a room outfitted with microscopes and a kitchen for food demonstrations.

This is where some of the family drop-in activities will happen Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 17 through Oct. 23, 2016 and probably the family weekend classes that  make gingerbread and coca in December.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For parking and other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit CBG.


Drive into the countryside to find Starship Enterprise

Star Trek celebrated in huge Spring Grove maze
Star Trek celebrated in huge Spring Grove maze

Star Trek fans and crew members of the Starship Enterprise might not want to ask engineer “Scotty” to beam them back home until after they negotiate Richardson Farm’s new giant maze in Spring Grove, IL.

About 21 football fields in size, the maze’s trails cut out images of Captain Kirk, Spock, the Starship, planets, stars and a Star Trek 50 logo. They celebrate the popular series’ 50th anniversary.

“We key in on anniversaries,” said George Richardson. Add celebrations. Last year, the family paid tribute to the Chicago Blackhawk’s  2014-15 Stanley Cup win.

Begun in 2001, the maze has celebrated a wide range of subjects from its first feel-good family farm scene to military veterans and the Beatles.

With 11 miles of trails crisscrossing a 33-acre cornfield, the Richardson Maze is considered the largest in the world. Doing parts of it can take 10 minutes to about an 1½ hours depending on trail choice. It can be a good half-day of fall family fun.

Of course doing the maze during a full moon, maybe with help from flashlights is also fun or spooky. The maze stays open until midnight during full-moon nights Sept. 16-17 and Oct. 14-15 and stays up through October.

As if the maze weren’t enough of a draw for a fall day in the country, the farm also has a ton of family-friendly activities such as a 50 foot slide, train rides and a vintage carousel.

Formerly a pig farmer, Richardson explains the family’s maze craze as “much more fun than raising pigs.”  He said, “I love having people come to see us and enjoy themselves here. This is so much better than pigs.”

The Richardson Farm is at 909 English Prairie Rd., Spring Grove, IL 60081 on US Highway 12, six miles west of Fox Lake and five miles east of Richmond. For other information visit Richmond Farm and Adventure Farm or call 815-675-9729.