Bright and fast Geminids hurtle across the sky

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


The Geminids, among the best meteor sky shows of the year, peak Dec. 13-14 in 2022.

Named for the constellation Gemini because the meteors seem to radiate from near its star, Castor, a twin to Pollux, this meteor shower historically hurtles between 100 and 150 fireballs across the sky per hour at its peak. They are traveling at 22 miles per second.

With clear weather and a moon phase that doesn’t make the sky too bright, 120 meteors per hour may be seen in the Northern Hemisphere. Due to the constellation’s position, fewer than half that number are spotted in the Southern Hemisphere.

In 2022, the moon will be wanning gibbous during the Geminids peak. The moon was full Dec. 7-9. But these meteors are bright so chances are you will “catch” at least a few “falling stars.”  Find more info at TimeandDate.

The Geminids are different from typical meteor showers. They don’t radiate from a comet but from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.  You can pick up more information on asteroids and comets at Astronomical terms and definitions.

NASA experts say just look at the sky instead of trying to find the constellation Gemini because meteors have shorter trails near their radiant so are harder to spot.

When to watch.

Where warm clothing because you may be outside awhile until your eyes adjust to the sky and atmosphere. Choose to go out when Gemini is above the horizon but before the moon rises or later around 2 a.m. even though moonlight might make them harder to find. Find a spot away from lights or away from moonlight such as the shade of a tree.

The Geminids continue through Dec. 24, 2022.  For more information visit NASA/Explore and EarthSky.




Brr December Moon


Full Moon (J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon (J Jacobs photg)

That bright white orb in the sky already looks like it is full, but it reaches complete illumination Dec. 7 at 11:09 p.m.

Called the “Cold Moon,” an appropriate Mohawk tribe name considering the temps in the northern latitudes, its high trajectory will make it appear in the sky longer and fuller Dec. 6-9.

Because of its long appearance at night the Mohican tribe calls it the “Long Night Moon.” The December full moon appears a couple of weeks shy of the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21 in 2022, so comes when days are shorter. 

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, other the Native American tribes have other seasonal names. The Cree tribe has used “Drift Clearing Moon,” “Frost Exploding Trees Moon and Hoar Frost Moon. The Haida and Cherokee tribes have called it “Snow Moon.”

In old Anglo-Saxon times, the December full moon was called the Moon before Yule.

 For more insight into full-moon names plus seasonal and celebration names visit Time and Date.

Along with its long night, another phenomenon of the 2022 December full moon is that Mars will be blocked by the moon on Dec. 7.  Called an “Occultation, the planet, moon, Earth and Sun will be in perfect alignment.   Space and Scientific American explain what it is and who can see it when. 

 BTW, Mars will appear very bright earlier before it starts to disappear when its eclipse begins (different times according to where you live) so start looking for it in early evening. 


Where to find vacation ideas



Travel and Adventure Show Chicago (Photo courtesy of the TaA Show)
Travel and Adventure Show Chicago (Photo courtesy of the TaA Show)


Two Travel and Adventure Shows, one virtual and the other in Rosemont, IL, offer ideas and experts to help you plan your next trip.

The show includes experts, travel tips, itinerary and budget options and private tour suggestions.

 Go Online Dec. 7, 2022 from 5 to 10 p.m. ET. Arranged through Eventbrite and Unicomm, you can find it at Eventbrite/virtual and Unicomm/events.

Travel and Adventure Show Chicago (Photo courtesy of the TaA Show)
Travel and Adventure Show Chicago (Photo courtesy of the TaA Show)

 The other show is in Chicago Jan. 14-15, 2023, at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Hall F) at 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont, IL (847) 692-2220). Jan 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

It’s a fun show with entertainment, food, expert speakers and lots of handouts.

If you have time, you may want to start out at the virtual show to pick up some ideas in December and then attend the in-person show in January. 

 For tickets and more information on the January show visit Chicago Travel and Adventure Show | Event Information – Travel Shows.

November full moon plays hide and see

While politicians are busy making last minute pitches on US Election Day Nov. 8, 2022 to influence the course of history, our astrological world is busy following its own course.

November’s full moon, called the Beaver Moon because that creature is about ready to shelter in the lodge it created and stored with food for the winter, will appear full and bright the night of Nov. 7. But, it reaches full bright illumination early the following morning at 6:02 a.m. EST Nov. 8 and will still look full Nov. 9. 

Continue reading “November full moon plays hide and see”

It is not a Halloween trick or an alien ship

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

You don’t have to call a government agency or a news station if you see a fireball overhead. It’s not a trick. It’s a treat. The Taurid meteors are charging across the sky. 

However, you might want to notify the American Meteor Society because that organization does keep track of fireball sightings and does want to hear about them.

Indeed, a sighting is likely in 2022 because AMS says the Taurids last great meteor production was in 2015. Taurids’ history has shown that its abundant output tends to happen every seven years. 

BTW, other years it’s not so great. So, the time span might be why you hadn’t heard about the Taurids before.

The meteors seem to emanate from constellation Taurus the Bull (its radiant) in two streams, the North and South Taurids. In 2022, South peaks Nov. 4-5 with North peaking Nov. 11-13. Taurus the Bull is near the constellation Orion. 

A better watching is arguably period now through Halloween and Day of the Dead. The moon cycle reaches its full stage Nov. 8 so its growing illumination period may make it harder to catch a fireball on Nov. 5.  But fireballs, like their name, are bright, so maybe try the peak date.

The Taurids already started Sept. 10 and continue through Nov. 20, 2022. As with most other meteor events, they happen when Earth passes through a stream of cometary debris. With the Taurids that is what Comet 2P-Encke, the parent comet, leaves behind, according to NASA.

NASA notes that unlike many comets, 2P-Encke is not named for its discoverer, Pierre F. A. Mechain, but for Johann Franz Encke who calculated its orbit. The letter P means it is a periodic comet.

Whatever dates you venture out to see a Taurid meteor, the best time is after midnight when the radiant is high. But dress warmly and be prepared to wait. Best watching technique is to scan the skies instead of focusing on the Taurus radiant. 

For more information visit Earth/Sky/ Taurids and Space/Taurid meteor shower.



Sky show this week

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

Look up after midnight to watch what is among the year’s best meteor shower.

Those meteors zooming across the sky at about 41 miles per second are the Orionids. Although they started the end of September and go through mid-November the best time to “catch a falling star” as the song goes, is during the shower’s peak of Oct. 21 when you may see between 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

Fortunately, the moon will be merely a slim wanning crescent during the peak date so moonlight won’t be a factor to see the sky show. Because the Orionids often leave bright trains and show-off as bright fireballs, sky watchers are likely to be rewarded with a meteor or two. 

Where they seem to come from is called the Radiant so with a name like Orionids, expect to look towards the Club of the Orion the Hunter constellation. Look north of Orion’s bright Betelgeuse star.

The Parent (origination) of the Orionids is 1P/Halley. Right, the comet. These meteors are comet debris. Dust of Halley’s Comet produce the Eta Aquarids in May, usually best seen in the southern hemisphere, and the Orionids which are better, brighter and can be seen in both hemispheres in mid-October. 

Note: Dress warmly and be patient. The meteor show goes from midnight until dawn.

For more info visit EarthSkyTime and Date and NASA Exploration



Hunter Moon appears large and bright for several nights

Fall full moon (J Jacobs photo)
Fall full moon (J Jacobs photo)

Don’t be surprised to find a large, bright orb peering into your windows this weekend.

October 2022’s full moon is technically Oct. 9 with full illumination at 4:54  p.m. ET. but it will look full Oct. 8- Oct. 11 due to it’s orbit in relation to the Sun and Earth.

 It will also look larger and more luminous than some of the year’s other full moons because it will appear at sunset when the sky is glowing

What’s in a name?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that unlike folklore and native American names for full moons, The Harvest Moon and Hunter Moon are related to the autumn equinox.

 The Harvest Moon was the full moon closest to the fall equinox on Sept. 22 and so the October full moon is the Hunter Moon because that is the name of the moon that follows the Harvest Moon.

EarthSky  an excellent, on-line source of moon and planetary information, points out that the Harvest and Hunter moons relate to the season when autumn starts because of the moon’s orbital path at that time. That means that in the Northern Hemisphere the moon will appear bright in the east just as the sun is setting in the west for several nights.




Cheer marathon runners this weekend

Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Photo courtesy of Bank of America)
Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Photo courtesy of Bank of America)

Come to Chicago this weekend to cheer runners on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. it’s an annual happening.

The official Bank of America Chicago Marathon website describes the event as the 44th running of this marathon. Articles refer to it as the 45th Chicago Marathon.

Well, the current format was OK’d by Mayor Richard J Daley but did start with Michael Bilandic as the city’s mayor Sept. 25, 1977 and was called the Mayor Daley Marathon.

That would make it a 45th anniversary in 2022, but COVID interfered. The race was canceled in 2020. So yes, 2022 is the 44th running of the Chicago Marathon as the official website says.

Come but don’t drive downtown. Go to a show at the Lyric Opera or a downtown theater while in town but take public transportation.

The field is estimated at 40,000 runners going through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. Roads around the marathon’s start and finish at Grant Park have already closed while many more will be blocked later this week and then along the route on Sunday, the day of the marathon.

A basically flat, fast route, its 26.2 miles is considered prime for runners hoping to qualify for such marathons as Boston. It’s also known as crowd friendly with good cheering stations.

If you haven’t asked a participant where to cheer, go to one already set up. Cheering participants helps them get through the marathon.

The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Cheer Zone will be in Lincoln Park at the 8K mark.   Then, the Bank of America Chicago 13.1 Cheer Zone will be half-way through the race. This stop reminds folks there will be a Bank of America Chicago 13.1 on June 4, 2023 through the parks and boulevards of Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Douglass Park. 

At Mile 15 is a block party to recognize that participants often run for causes. The Charity Block Party will be at Adams and Loomis Streets near Whitney Young High School.

Finally, cheer with noisemakers at the Bank of America Cheer Zone near Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

The race starts at 7:20 a.m. with many participants finishing more than four hours later and some through at five hours.

Also, watch Sunday at NBC-5 from 7-11 a.m. Live stream is on or listen at WSCR-AM 670 from 6-10 a.m.

For CTA bus ‘L’ and Metra info visit Navigating the Course.

Find more information at 2022 FAQS Bank of America Chicago Marathon and at Spectator information – Bank of America Chicago Marathon

A Michigan Art Coast Getaway



Saugatuck, MI is made for strolling, popping into shops and taking a break for coffee, tea and ice cream. Photos by Jodie Jacobs)
Downtown Saugatuck, MI is made for strolling, popping into shops and taking a break for coffee, tea and ice cream. Photos by Jodie Jacobs)

Autumn officially began Sept. 22, 2022, in the Northern Hemisphere.  Which is a good excuse to take to the road. You get warm days and cool nights so leaves are changing color.

If looking for high color, try to go the second week of October. But if looking for a relaxing getaway with good art galleries, good food, good wine and fun shops, consider the Saugatuck/Douglas, and by extension, the Fennvillee/orchard/winery area.

A popular summer and fall destination, the towns are on the State of Michigan’s vacation/harbor/dunes coast about 130 plus miles if going east and then north from Chicago around  Lake Michigan.

Douglas is basically on the south side of the Kalamazoo Rive and Saugatuck lies on the river’s north side, closer to the area’s dunes. Fennville is a short distance south and east.


Wickwood Inn, a B n B in Saugatuck, MI.
Wickwood Inn, a B n B in Saugatuck, MI.

Where to stay

Saugatuck has several B and Bs and inns. We stayed at the Wickwood Inn which actually is a B ‘n’ B. It is within easy walking distance of the downtown, serves wine and light appetizers in its bar/library late afternoons, sweets all the time next to the kitchen and breakfast nook and breakfast options every morning in the dining room.

The 1937, colonial-style home of former Saugatuck Mayor Frank Wicks, the house was bought by the Louis family in 1981 and turned into an inn. It became famous for its breakfasts when neighbors, Bill Miller and Silver Palate Cookbook co-author Julee Rosso bought it about ten years later.

In 2021 it was sold to Shea Soucie and Martin Horner, partners of the Chicago-based Soucie Horner Ltd, a luxury design company who added their stamp to the house with new décor and furnishings.

Possibly because of COVID, the breakfast we had no longer a buffet. Choices served at your table in the dining room included but were not limited to eggs done your way, smoked salmon, good bread for toast and excellent jam.

The rooms had received a luxury make-over with really comfortable bedding, good showers and relaxing color tones. 

We liked that the house became our late afternoon refuge from sightseeing. Its garden porch was perfect for reading and its parlor with fireplace had comfortable sitting for chatting and relaxing.

When we rang the bell, Jeff West, our Wickwood, host for the weekend, said our room would be ready early and we could park in the Inn’s lot before checking in. Parking is challenging in downtown Saugatuck, so we were happy to leave our car at the inn. Note, a guest card must be in the car window. 

One of many rooms in the J Petter Galleries, Douglas, MI
One of many rooms in the J Petter Galleries, Douglas, MI


Because check-in wasn’t until 4 p.m. ET and we were still operating on CT we stopped at J. Petter Galleries, a large, meandering two-level structure on the Blue Coast Highway. It’s in Douglas just before the bridge and the turn into Saugatuck.

J Petter Galleries is a fine art gallery in the classical definition. Going there is like spending time at an art museum where you don’t hurry.

Operating the gallery since 2013, Julianne Petter has been building a wine section and wine-tasting bar that deserves a visit along with the art exhibit rooms. Juli, as she’s known, referred to the appreciation of fine wine on our recent visit as “the art of wine.” 

To connect its artists to its wines, the gallery is running a label design contest for a “Beaujolais nouveau” style of wine developed for them here in the United States.

 Water Street Gallery, our next stop, is a short drive south on the Blue Coast Hwy from Petter’s in downtown Douglas. Water Street is much smaller than Petter’s but still nice. It has interesting sculptures outside in front and down a few steps in back that is accessible around the street corner through its driveway. 

Button Art Gallery, our third stop, is across the street and down a block from Water Street Gallery. Button is a fun place with creative pieces inside and in the garden outside. 

Saugatuck is known as Michigan’s Art Coast going back to when the Art Institute of Chicago set up classes there as the Ox-Bow School of Art in 1910. Ox-Bow School of Art still exists, offering credited and non-credited classes.

 Artists still live and vacation in the area. Plus, there are individual artist galleries and studios downtown Saugatuck. The three galleries mentioned here that are in Douglas carry several artists’ work and were open when we visited on a Sunday and Monday (leaving Tuesday morning).  Best is to check their hours and days open.  

Fenn Valley Vineyards is an old, established winery in Fennville, south of Saugatuck-Douglas
Fenn Valley Vineyards is an old, established winery in Fennville, south of Saugatuck-Douglas


We saved visits to wineries located in Fennville for our second day so as not to rush tastings and exploration of the area.

The oldest is Fenn Valley Vineyards developed, owned and operated by the Welsch family since 1973. Its site was specifically chosen in an area that has been good for orchards. 

Located five miles from Lake Michigan, Fenn Valley is a 240-acre farm on top of a large sand ridge between the Black River and the Kalamazoo River valleys that benefits from Lake Michigan’s temperature moderating conditions and a well-drained soil.

Everyone’s taste is different. I prefer full bodied, dry reds but everything tried during our wine tasting was very drinkable and good for serving guests. My faves were the Classic Chardonnay fermented in French oak and the Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. To learn more about these wines see Fenn Valley Wines

The wines served to us at Wickwood were from Fenn Vally.

Bree does the wine-pours at Magalas, a new winery in Fennville , MI
Bree does the wine-pours at Modales, a new winery in Fennville, MI

Newish in the valley is Modales. Formed in 2016, Modales consists of two farms, a 75-acre farm at the winery about 3.5 miles from Lake Michigan that had been a stone fruit farm and a 37-acre farm closer to the lake.

Until more of the vines planted are ready for harvest, Bree noted they have bought grapes from the Leelanau region of Michigan (which I found in the past to have become some remarkable wines) and then process them according to Modales tastes and standards.

I liked the 2018 Lamastus Red which was a blend and full-bodied. I also tasted a wine from grapes just harvested in 2022 on the property that was young but showed considerable promise.

Good wine is worth waiting for so I expect Modales to become better known as it develops its specialties and plants more vines. Though young, the winery is worth a visit and then a return in a few years to taste again.


Coast 236 Scallops in Saugatuck, MI
Coast 236 Scallops in Saugatuck, MI

Where to Dine

Coast 236, a downtown Saugatuck restaurant and bar, is known for its wine flights, cocktails and recognition in Wine Spectator. But it also has excellent cuisine.

Many of the diners were doing the day’s featured multi-course dinner with matching wines. However, since we had just spent the day tasting wines I chose a main-course option of New Bedford Diver Scallops with Foie Gras from Labelle Farms. They were accompanied by citrus semolina gnocchi and broccolini. The sauce was a sauternes beurre blanc. Wow!

I often use scallops as a restaurant test and these passed with an A plus. They were perfectly prepared and the dish was so loaded with flavor that I used the toast we ordered to accompany our meal as a way to sop up the sauce.

My dinner companion wasn’t hungry so chose the tapas-sized dish of New Zealand Lamb Lollipops.

Note: Chef Rick Bower and the restaurant have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation for commitment to sustainable seafood sourcing.

Pennyroyal Cafe in Saugatuck, MI
Pennyroyal Cafe in Saugatuck, MI

Pennyroyal Café & Provisions is a small dine-in and take-out spot on the Blue Coast Highway in Saugatuck. Sitting inside is not about atmosphere but about getting a table. The outdoor patio is nice but the wait is long. However, Pennyroyal is so innovative and the food so delicious that people are willing to be crowded inside or put up with the long wait outdoors.

Part of the problem is that Condé Nast Traveler has more than once noted that Pennyroyal was a restaurant destination. Also, Executive Chef Melissa Corey had worked for James Beard award-winning chefs and she won when appearing on Food Network’s “Chopped.”  

We chose to try the restaurant for lunch because it was a Monday and closed about 3 p.m. that day. The all-day menu was different from the dinner one.

Even though we came what we thought was after the busy brunch crowd, yes, we had to wait for a table outside for about 45 minutes.

Imagine a BLT that includes delicious Gruyere cheese, Nueske’s bacon from Wisconsin and San Francisco-style sourdough bread from a Grand Rapids, MI baking company that was nicely grilled.

Definitely gourmet, what came was a cross between a BLT and a grilled cheese sandwich. Reading about Nueske’s, a long-time family business, is a clue to how important the chef considers individual ingredients.  Yum. It was worth the wait. 

There are no reservations for lunch but reservations can be made for dinner. So, if in the area, try to get a dinner reservation.


Crane's Bakery Restaurant Winery in Fennville,MI
Crane’s Bakery Restaurant Winery in Fennville,MI


The Saugatuck/Douglas/Fennville area has good breweries and antiques which will give you more places to taste, look or wander but if time is short you might want to put these three stops on your itinerary.

Crane’s, a triple threat of bakery, restaurant and small-batch winery, sits among the fields and vineyards of Fennville. This is the place to pick up a pumpkin or fruit pie. We brought home one of the best pumpkin pies and cinnamon sugar dusted, apple-cider donuts we’ve ever tasted.

We did not stay for lunch because we were going to Pennyroyal and we didn’t try the wines so if in the area, go for them and add them to your list or add a comment on this website.


Mazwi is an African shop whose imports fit in well with the arts in Saugatuck, MI
Mazwi is an African shop whose imports fit in well with the arts in Saugatuck, MI

Mazwi is across the street from Coast 236. Its owners travel to Africa to import items for their Saugatuck shop. My problem is limiting purchases to gifts for family because there are so many interesting and artistic items.

Kilwins, a chocolate and ice cream shop on Butler St, downtown Saugatuck can be found in other fun, Midwest travel destinations but that doesn’t make it less of a shopping stop when chocolate ior a caramel-coated apple is on the mind.

We did Crane’s with the wineries but went there to pick up a pie to take home. As to shopping, we finally got around to checking out the shops after lunch and picking up fudge to take from Kilwins. The fun of travel destinations is to pace stops so the break really is a vacation and not something that needs downtime for recovery.













Harvest Moon is on the horizon

September's full moon is the Harvest and Corn Moon. (J Jacobs photo)
September’s full moon is the Harvest and Corn Moon. (J Jacobs photo)

As you begin to see more fresh corn in farmers markets and grocery stores and more leaves dotting the grass and walkways, you know our food is entering the harvest season. So, no surprise that the September full moon is called the Full Harvest Moon and the Corn Moon.

Actually, Harvest Moon is the designated name according to when the full moon is closer to the Fall Equinox. In 2022, that applies to the September full moon because the Autumnal or Fall Equinox is Sept. 22.  Visit Autumnal Equinox at the Old Farmer’s Almanac for this designation of when fall begins. (Meteorologists like to say Sept. 1 is the first day of fall.)

Start watching the moon grow fuller and brighter this first full week of September. In 2022, the moon will begin to appear full Sept. 8 and really seem full blown Sept. 9, but it will reach its full stage early in the morning of Sept. 10. 

BTW, next month’s full moon is Oct. 9, a few days more than September’s past the Fall Equinox. It will be the Hunter Moon. 

Maybe you’ll notice that the Harvest Moon is particularly good for bringing in crops. Nearing fall, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each evening. But that changes in September for areas in the mid-northern latitudes where moon rising is only 20 minutes later due to a shallower eclipse angle of Earth to Sun. 

It is not a Supermoon but unlike other months’ full moons, the Harvest  Moon rises around sunset for several evenings. That early rising frequency and lengthy moon lit twilights allow farmers more time to do their harvesting before the nights turn really frosty.

In addition, the moon will look totally full through Sept. 11.  For more Harvest Moon info visit Farmer’s Almanac. For more full moon names visit Time and Date. For good, basic Earth to Sun angles visit Earth/Sky and ecliptic