A very different full moon transforms the May sky

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

You won’t need special eye gear to watch an eclipse when Sunday, May 15, 2022 becomes Monday, May 16.

If following the names of full moons each month, you know they reflect the season and nature whether in Native Indian, European or religious context. So, you won’t be surprised that May’s full moon is also called the Flower Moon. Other names of the May full moon are Corn Moon and Milk Moon.

But, the full moon for May 2022 is also called the Blood Moon.

Watch the May Moon start out as a large, silvery somewhat yellowish (depending on where you are and your atmosphere), full-sized globe when it appears on your horizon.

It will seem larger than usual even though it hasn’t changed shape. The full moon is close to being a Supermoon because its orbit brings it so close to earth.

Keep watching to experience a lunar eclipse.

As it rises, it will move into Earth’s shadow. Remember at the height of a full eclipse you’ll have the Sun, Earth and Moon in a direct line.

It starts out in the penumbral, somewhat less noticeable phase, because the full May Moon is in the lighter part of the Earth’s shadow. It moves into our planet’s partial shadow at 9:32 p.m. EDT.

Watch as it looks as if a bite is being taken out of the Moon as it is in partial eclipse stage. The Moon will then move into the Earth’s full shadow for more than an hour: 11:29 p.m. on Sunday night until 12:54 a.m. Monday morning. The eclipse reaches its peak at 12:11 a.m. At the back end, the partial eclipse ends at May 16 at 1:55 a.m. EDT.

Its reddish, brownish color happens as the Earth’s atmosphere refracts some light from the sunrise and sunset conditions around our planet.

To find the sunrise and sunset times in your area visit the  Old Farmer’s Almanac which has a site calculator. Your time zone matters if watching the eclipse.

Another watch choice is at Time and Date which has a YouTube live stream connection.

For more May Moon information visit NASA . For the area covered by the eclipse see EarthSky. For information on how the lunar eclipse fits with April’s recent  partial solar eclipse visit Space.





May meteor watch now and end of month


May is continuing to be a month to watch the night skies.

The Eta Aquarid Meteor shower from 1P/Halley that started in April is peaking May 4-6. Between 30 to 50 meteors per hour are expected in the pre-dawn hours. Although they are more visible in the southern hemisphere because their radiant is the southern constellation AquariusTime and Date suggests watching for them about 3 a.m. CDT.

Late in the month, May 30-31, watch for a somewhat more recently-known meteor shower, the Tau Herculids. EarthSky suggests it may be an exciting display this year.

Coming from the parent comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, (SW3), it was noticed by astronomers  in 1930. Although not bright, it keeps breaking up and has a large amount of debris.

If the weather doesn’t co-operate or you miss either meteor shower and want to know when others are still coming in 2022 visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac Meteor Calendar. It has good-to-know dates and information.

(Meteor photo courtesy of NASA)



Sky Watch: Partial solar followed by full lunar eclipse and meteorites

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

Unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly the southern part of South America, the afternoon of April 30 you won’t be seeing a partial solar eclipse live. But you can watch online and you will be getting updates from news channels.

According to Space.com, you can see this solar event on the YouTube channel of the India-based  Gyaan ki gareebi Live .  It will begin broadcasting the eclipse at  1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT).

Of course you know a solar eclipse happens when the moon’s orbit sends the sphere between the sun and earth. You can become more informed on this particular eclipse at Time and Date and at Time and Date’s Partial Solar eclipse coverage.

The partial solar eclipse is also the forerunner of a lunar eclipse happening May 15-16 in both hemispheres. Time and Date has a good map and timetable of the area covered.

In the Chicago area watch the lunar eclipse on May 15th from its very early onset at 8:32 p.m. through May 16 at 12:55 a.m. Chicago’s Adler Planetarium has a good description of what to expect.

For full moon observers, this is the Flower Moon. and yes, it coincides with the lunar eclipse. For more information visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

If that isn’t enough, May also hosts the peak of the Eta Aquarids. The meteorites peak with up to 50 meteorites per hour May 5-6 in 2022 although they have already started. They are named for their radiant (where they seem to emerge) at the constellation Aquarius.

Happy sky watching!



Eyes up for the Lyrids

NASA photo of a meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
NASA photo of a meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Now that April’s full moon is starting to wane moonlight will hopefully not interfere with April’s meteor shower: the Lyrids.

Known for how bright they are and fast they fly across the sky leaving glowing trails of dust, they already began on April 16, but they peak between April 21-23 with between 15 to 20 meteors per hour.

The Lyrids, called that because they seem to come from the constellation Lyra, were first recorded by the Chinese in 687 BC, making them the oldest known meteor shower.

What observers see is debris from the C/1861 G1 Thatcher comet in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres as the comet’s orbit crosses those skies in mid-late April.

Best time to watch is predawn when the moon has set and the sky is still dark. If watching for them, give your eyes a chance to adjust to the night sky and find a spot away from street and highway lights and businesses.

For more information visit NASA at SolarSystem.nasa.gov and EarthSky at Meteor Shower Guide.


April full moon Pink in name only

April's Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)
April’s Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)

Start seeing what looks like a full moon on Friday. Full moons tend to look full just before their date and the day afterwards.

In 2022, April’s full moon reaches total illumination at 1:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday the 16th and will continue to appear full on Sunday. It is not a SuperMoon. The moon will appear to be larger the morning of April 19 when it will be at its perigee (closest to Earth) at 11:14 EDT.

Known as the Pink Moon, the April full moon derives its name from the season when pink creeping (moss) phlox bloom and not from an atmospheric moon color.

As with other full moon names, it echoes what is happening in nature so other names range from Breaking Ice Moon to Awakening Moon.

March’s full moon, which fell before the Spring Equinox was called the Worm Moon when worms emerge in early Spring.

But the March and April Full Moons can be the Paschal Moon depending on when the full moon falls: before or after the Spring Equinox.

The Paschal Moon is often used to determine the Easter date. So, the moon in March or April can be called the Paschal Moon. Visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more information on the Spring Equinox and April Full Moon. Also see Time and Date on How Easter is Determined.

The April full moon is also the Pesach Moon for the Jewish feast of Passover which begins at sundown April 15 and is celebrated with Seders on the first two evenings. Paschal is a Latinized word for Pesach.

For more Full Moon info visit NASA Solar System Exploration.

Movie backdrops fill Boca Raton Museum



Singing in the Rain backdrop scene. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Musuem)
Singing in the Rain backdrop scene. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Musuem)

Imagine taking a selfie against the scenery in “American in Paris,” Singing in the Rain,” “North by Northwest” or “Sound of Music.”

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is making these movie moments possible with its new exhibit, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop.

Second in a travel series that makes art destinations the reason to go, the Boca Raton exhibit is an amazing, immersive experience.

Opening April 20, 2022 and continuing through Jan. 23, 2023, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop brings 22 large-scale scenic backdrops made for the movies between 1938 and 1967 to South Florida so what has pretty-much become a lost art can be enjoyed and their artists, appreciated.

After attempting a selfie, visitors will see and understand that backdrops were created for the camera view of a scene.

To achieve an immersive ambiance that recaptures the classic scenes for the show, interactive videos have been done by digital designers and sound engineers. (Watch two videos at youtu.be/8Z1bi3P1Luc and  youtu.be/qvVc2i4euQY.

At the Boca Raton Museum, Karen L. Maness works on repairing the scenic backdrop from the 1959 MGM film North by Northwest. (Photo courtesy of the Boca Raton Museum)
At the Boca Raton Museum, Karen L. Maness works on repairing the scenic backdrop from the 1959 MGM film North by Northwest. (Photo courtesy of the Boca Raton Museum)

The exhibit is co-curated by two people who were instrumental in salvaging the backdrops from the studios: Assistant Professor of (Art) Practice at the University of Texas at Austin Karen L. Maness who co-author The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop and is Director of the Texas Performing Arts Hollywood Backdrop Collection and multi-award winning  production designer Thomas A. Walsh.

The backstory is that Lynne Coakley, head of J.C. Backings Corporation picked up more than 2,000 backdrops from MGM storage in the 1970s. Coakley then partnered on backdrop protection and education with the Art Directors Guild Archives in 2012 directed by Walsh, then the Guild’s president.

“This show is about the joy of re-living something you grew up with, that you always thought was real. It’s about getting as close to that magical moment in time as you can,” said Walsh in a statement about the show.

He thought visitors will be astonished by the backdrops’ sizes.  “Being in the same space with that giant, familiar scene. It is difficult for people to get their minds around the awesome size of these magical spaces, until they see them in person. People are often shocked and surprised by the scale and visual impact of these massive creations,” he said.

American in Paris backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Art Musuem)
American in Paris backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Boca Raton Art Musuem)

With the aim of preserving the backdrops and making them available for study, Coakley and Walsh launched the Backdrop Recovery Project partnership with J.C. Backings.  A major recipient was the University of Texas’ art department and Maness. About 20 of the backdrops in the exhibit are from the UT collection.

Referring to the North by Northwest backdrop, Maness said, “This is the grandaddy, the Babe Ruth of all Hollywood backdrops…Especially because it was such a key player in the telling of this story.”

According to Maness, just as important as the stories the backdrops tell, is that the exhibit honors the artists who created them. Visitors will be able to see their brush strokes. “This has become my passion project, to tell their stories. I will be their champion in this lifetime” she said.

Warner Brothers scenic artists (ca. 1930). (L-to- R) Verne Strang, Bill McConnell, Frankie Cohen, Charley Wallace, Jack Brooks, James McCann, Emmett Alexander (Ed Strang Collection, from the book The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, by Karen L. Maness and Richard Isackes. (IPhoto courtesy of Maness)
Warner Brothers scenic artists (ca. 1930). (L-to- R) Verne Strang, Bill McConnell, Frankie Cohen, Charley Wallace, Jack Brooks, James McCann, Emmett Alexander (Ed Strang Collection, from the book The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, by Karen L. Maness and Richard Isackes. (IPhoto courtesy of Maness)

Maness who had conducted extensive interviews with the last surviving artists and their families, said in a statement about the exhibit’s importance, “It was essential to capture these artist’s stories before they disappeared.”

In addition to the UT backdrops, “Singin’ in the Rain” and the 1938 tapestry backdrop for “Marie Antoinette” are loaned by the Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles.

The exhibit will have an educational component and presentations. For more information visit at bocamuseum.org/visit/events.

Worm Moon by any other name still means Spring

March full moon designates Spring (J Jacobs photo)
March full moon designates Spring (J Jacobs photo)

Spring is in the air so earthworms are making their way through formerly frozen ground. Thus the March full moon is called the Worm Moon, right?

Appearing bright above the horizon on March 18 and having reached full illumination at 3:20 a.m. EDT, that day, it is the last of the winter season’s full moons.

Don’t worry if you missed snapping a photo. The moon will seem full for three days. However, if putting the photo on social media. you might want to know there is a backstory to the “worm” name.

But what may be the worm’s story behind the name?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says the earthworm idea sounds good but that when Captain Jonathan Carver was visiting Native American tribes in the 1760s, he learned from them that Worm Moon actually referred to the beetle larvae type “worm” that emerged from winter homes such as tree bark during the spring thaw.

Worm isn’t the only name. References also list other creatures such as eagle and crow plus natural phenomenon such as sap and sugar.

Timing is also important. When the Spring or Vernal Equinox falls determines if  the March full moon is called the Lenten Moon which comes before the equinox or the Paschal Moon if after it.

In 2022, the Spring Equinox is March 20. Time and Date references the Astronomical beginning of Spring and other popular names.

If you follow meteorlogical seasons, you know Spring started March 1 and goes to May 31.

Art destinations: Modernism where palm trees and cacti flourish

Calder exhibit during Modernism Week at Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert (J Jacobs photo)
Calder exhibit during Modernism Week at Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert (J Jacobs photo)


First in a travel series where art and architecture are the raison d’etre

Some folk travel to play a golf course or see a golf tournament. Some people search for great down-hill skiing experiences. Others are attracted to historic places. Beyond visiting family and friends, there can be a myriad of reasons from Art to Zoos to plan a vacation around a particular place.

Here is another reason: add art experience to your travel destination choices.

Modernism Week, an annual architectural festival that celebrates and tours mid-last century homes and styles in the Palm Springs-Palm Desert area, end this weekend on Feb. 27, 2022.

But the art and architecture of the area is worth putting on the destination do list any time of year. For tours and more information visit Modernism Week — the epicenter for midcentury architecture and design. To experience the mini version go Oct. 13-16, 2022.

Bus tour during Modernism week. (Photo by David A. Lee)
Bus tour during Modernism week. (Photo by David A. Lee)

But no matter when you go, stop in at the Heather James Gallery to see museum quality works that co-owners James Carona and wife Heather Sacre, are currently displaying. A visit here is as good as going to a small, fine art museum.

Among the spring-summer exhibits are “Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley: Modern Minds” and “Abstract Expressionsm: Transcending the Radical,” that are up thru July 31, 2022. Also on exhibit is “Andy Warhol Polaroids: Wicked Wonders,” up through June 30, 2022.

To find out more about the gallery see the HeatherJames/celebrating 25 years video.

Heather James Fine Art is at 45188 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260 (Other HJ galleries in Jackson Hole, Montecito, CA, NY and San Francisco.)



Snow Moon


February Full Moon is the Snow Moon ( J Jacobs photo)
February Full Moon is the Snow Moon ( J Jacobs photo)

In Chicago, moon gazers won’t be surprised to learn the February full moon is called the Snow Moon. Weather forecasters are predicting rain turns to snow Wednesday night into Thursday as temperatures go below freezing.

The full moon will be at its highest illumination between 10:56 and 10:59 a.m. CST on Feb. 16 when it will be directly opposite the sun. But it will look full for three days from February 15 through Feb. 17. So, look after sunset this week.

The February moon is also called the hunger moon because winter can be harsh on food sources.

For more information visit TimeandDate, NASA Solar System Explore and Old Farmer’s lmanac.





Springtime differs according to two groundhogs


Woodstock Willie predicts and early spring (J Jacobs photo.)
Woodstock Willie predicts and early spring (J Jacobs photo.)

Of course, the US boasts different temps and climates but just looking at the east and central part of the country, spring was predicted differently by two famous groundhogs on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day.

Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania saw his shadow so predicted six more weeks of winter.

But Woodstock Willy in Illinois, though reluctant to leave his home at first, didn’t see his shadow so whispered to his handler that spring will come early.

Both groundhogs (woodchucks) drew large crowds for their predictions and the activities their towns are hosting.

For more on Punxsutawney Phil, visit Groundhog Club.  For Woodstock Willie visit Prognostication and for more on the movie filmed there see Groundhog Day.