Wolf Moon this week

J Jacobs photo)
J Jacobs photo)

January 2024’s full moon has traditionally been called the Wolf Moon in Celtic cultures, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac and Time and Date.

It is expected to look full on Jan. 24 but will reach full illumination the next day at 12:54 p.m. EST, Jan. 25 and continue to look full on Jan. 26.

Wolves howling at the moon is used in several stories for different reasons say the Farmer’s almanac.  “Howling and other wolf vocalizations are used to define territory, locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, and coordinate hunting.”

The January full moon is also called the Moon After Yule. Some Native American cultures say it is the Severe Moon or Center Moon.

Whatever its name, it is cold out now.

Jodie Jacobs

Four events to look forward to in February


Past winner of Winterfest (Photo courtesy of Lake Geneva Chamber)
Past winner of Winterfest (Photo courtesy of Lake Geneva Chamber)

Many folks are ready to say goodbye to January’s below freezing temps and heavy snow shoveling. So here are some events to put on the calendar to help.

Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva Winterfest Jen 31-Feb 4

Amazing snow sculptures will be created along Geneva Lake during Lake Geneva, Wi’s US National Snow Sculpting Championship. It is part of the town’s 29th Annual Winterfest that includes several activities.

Although it begins Jan. 31, visitors won’t see the completed sculptures until that first Saturday in February. It takes a while to have the snow delivered to each sculpting team’s worksite and it takes time for them to carve out their masterpieces.

There will be 15 state championship teams competing from all over the US. Look for them sculpting at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park Judges will rate the work at about 1 p.m. Saturday. In past years, visitors also had a chance to vote for their favorites.

Strolling the downtown to shop, see ice sculptures, watch snow sculpting and enjoy live entertainment fills out the days until the winners are announced. Sculptures are still up on Sunday, weather permitting.

For more information visit Winterfest Lake Geneva


Woodstock IL town square filmed in Groundhog Day (JJacobs photo)
Woodstock IL town square filmed in Groundhog Day (JJacobs photo)

Groundhog Day is back in Woodstock, IL    (but also in Punxsutawney, PA)

Events surrounding the famed 1993 film start Feb. 1 but are celebrated with a redo of the weather predicting creature in Woodstock, IL on Feb 2. Suppposedly, film director Harold Ramis chose Woodstock for filming because the story-line location in Pennsylvania was far from his North Shore home in Illinois.

To see where weather forecaster Bill Murray and his station co-worker, Andie MacDowell fell in love, go to Woodstock, not Pennsylvania, a tourist destination northwest of Chicago with a picturesque square featured in the movie.

If in town early in the morning Feb. 2, you hear groundhog Woodstock Willie say when spring will come. But stay to tour the film’s sites and see the movie. 

For clips visit Groundhog Day utubeFor more Woodstock info visit Groundhog Day/Woodstock. For the Punxsutawney, PA site see Punxsutawney Groundhog ClubFor folklore and background on Groundhog Day go to Farmers’Almanac Groundhog Day.

(Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism site)

Asian (Chinese) Lunar New Year 2024 Feb.10-25

 Learn about the zodiac signs including yours, where the holiday is celebrated and where you can celebrate at Lunar New Year 2024/Animal, Dates and celebrations.

Although called Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, the festival is also celebrated in other countries such as Vietnam and Korea. 

Here, in the Chicago area, there are dragon parades and other events in a couple of neighborhoods such as Argyle Feb. 17 and Chinatown Feb.  18, plus lots of red decorations (for good luck) in Asian restaurants. This year is the Year of the Dragon.


Football’s Superbowl Sunday Feb 11, 2024

The event will be at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the game doesn’t matter unless you are a fan of one of the teams. But the commercials are usually worth watching. Check top 10 for 2023 on UTube to see what was good last year. Peanuts (the edible kind) and M and Ms were still around.

For Super Bowl LVIII info visit 2024 Super Bowl LVIII Sunday – When, Where & More – NFL.com

International Puppet Theater Festival returns this week

“The Immortal Jellyfish Girl” Photo courtesy of Wakka Wakka Productions

There’s more to the already great Chicago Theater experiences than you might think.

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, begun in 2015 and now celebrating its 6th year, starts January 18 and continues through January 28, 2024.

Headquartered at the Puppet Hub in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, 433 S. Michigan Ave., Festival events and shows are held at venues across the city. It also includes free neighborhood tours co-sponsored by the festival, Chicago Park District, Navy Pier and neighborhood organizations. 

Considered the largest puppetry event in North America, the Fest draws artists from across the globe and features more than 100 activities ranging from performances and symposium to workshops and a Pop-Up Store. 

Where to stay.

Chicago has lots of options but there is an official hotel for the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. It is the Warwick Allerton Hotel, 701 N. Michigan Ave. which has a discounted rate during festival dates. Use the  promo code, Puppetfest24. Visit Warwick Allerton or call (312) 440-1500 to reserve. This is where all of the artists stay and many visitors in town  for the Chicago Intl Puppet Theater Festival.

For Festival tickets, activities and more information visit Chicago Puppet Fest.

Chicago Boat Show is back

Paddle Sport Pool

Just as snow threatens to make January a cold, wintery month, you can look forward to warmer weather at the 2024 Discover® Boating Chicago Boat Show

The show is filling McCormick Place with new fishing boats, motorboats, fishing gear and marine electronics Jan. 10 – 14, 2024.

Tour million-dollar yachts, look for the Discover Boating Beach Club with a paddle sports pool and have fun dreaming about life on the water.

“The show is an annual Midwest boating tradition, attracting thousands of visitors to the Windy City each year to explore the best in boating,” said Darren Envall, Show Manager and NMMA Vice President of Midwest Boat and Sport Shows. “There’s no better place to discover boating, buy your dream boat and plan for your next adventure on the water,” said Envall.

WHERE: McCormick Place, 2301 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616

Hours: Wednesday, January 10 2 p.m. – 8 p.m, Thursday, January 11 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday, January 12 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, January 13 10 a.m.8 p.m. and Sunday, January 14 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

INFO and Tickets at ChicagoBoatShow.com; $15 for adults; children 12 years old and younger are free (when accompanied by a paid adult admission).


Cold Full Moon


J Jacobs photo)
J Jacobs photo)

Imagine those greeting cards and pictures with Santa driving his sleigh across a full moon. The full December moon rarely happens during Christmas but this year of 2023, it will appear full on Dec. 24-27 even though its full illumination isn’t until 7:33 p.m. EST on Dec. 26.

Called by many cultures the “Cold” Moon, it is the first full Moon after the winter solstice which is this week, Dec. 21,2023. It’s easy to believe given how frigid the temps were Monday, and now, Tuesday.

But the weather is supposed to warm up in the Midwest to the mid and high 40s later in the week, so you may forget by Thursday how cold the week of the winter solstice really can be.

But after all, it is called the Cold Moon. Other names are the Oak Moon, Long Night Moon and usually, the Moon Before Yule.

Find more thoughts on full moon names at  T he Old Farmer’s Almanac  and at Time and Date.

The Geminids

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


You heard that the Geminds, considered the best meteor shower of the year, peak Dec. 14 but that is early in the morning. They are worth staying up for or getting up early because you see about 100 meteors per hour.

 The moon is not a factor and the mostly clear skies across the US should help.

But if you miss the time slot you can also watch on a free, livesteam hosted by Slooh Telescope and the Virtual Telescope project in Italy.

The Slooh robotic telescope network is hosting a free livestream of the Geminid meteor shower beginning at 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT) on Thursday (Dec. 14). 

Slooh operates a network of telescopes in Chile and the Canary islands. The organization hosts livestream webcasts.

London for the Holidays

London is particularly magical during the holidays. (J Jacobs photo)
London is particularly magical during the holidays. (J Jacobs photo)

Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Camden Market, Oh my – It’s London for the holidays.

Going to London for the holidays is like venturing to Oz. It’s full of magic. Of course, you have to visit old favorites if you have been there before such as the Tate or Tate Modern, Portrait Gallery, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Tower of London (to visit the jewels) and the British Museum. Or put them on your do list.

However, if London is your December destination, travel your personal “yellow brick road” through the city’s shopping districts for their spectacularly decorated windows and sparkling holiday lights crisscrossing the streets above.

The adventure continues at vintage shop after antiques stall, inside department and specialty stores and down the aisles of food, chocolate and toy emporiums.

The question is where to begin? Tip: Forget taxis. Traffic is so bad above ground that the meter runs while you wait through three lights to proceed through an intersection. So, bring comfortable walking shoes, scarves and earmuffs. Pick up a map of the Underground (Tube) stations. Check what is within walking distance of your accommodations and Tube stops. OK, have at it.

Some stores such as Harrods and Fortnum & Mason are likely to already be in your go-to notes but you probably won’t want to miss a fabulous toy shop or a terrific boutique so here are some shopping districts and their famed places and features.

Knightsbridge area: You said Harrods, right? Go to the Knightsbridgbe-Brompton Road-Sloane Street District where you can wander Harrods Food Hall, snap Egyptian motifs on the staircases, then, go into Harvey Nichols and Sloan’s high-end designers. Be sure to take pictures of the beautifully decorated holiday windows outside the shops. They often tell a story like Cinderella. Tip: You’ll see fun “crackers” which are good stocking stuffers if not flying back home but airports started disallowing them after 9-11. If taking the Tube, get off at Knightsbridge.

King’s Road: The high-end Chelsea neighborhood at the Sloan Square Tube stop is filled with designer and trendy shops. Include the Duke of York Square to browse.

Even though it has some shops found in the United States it also has fun boutiques, cafes and the Chelsea Antiques Market.

Oxford Street: You’ll love the lights overhead if shopping at night and the windows anytime of day. They all definitely set the holiday mood for stopping at Selfridges and Marks & Spencer’s flagship store. If you didn’t get chocolates at Harrods, look for a Thorton’s across from the department stores. It’s a chain with really good candy. You can also find the Debenhams Department Store and several good clothing shops on the street. Which Tube stop that accesses Oxford Street depends on what stores you want to visit. The Bond Street station is closest to Selfridges.

Regent Street: Time to eat and play. If you don’t mind walking, you can use the Piccadilly Circus Tube stop to pop into Fortnum & Mason and go over to Hamleys and Liberty on Regent Street. Or use Oxford Circus to hit Liberty and Hamley on Regent and then Fortnum & Mason at Piccadilly. Opened in 1707 Fortnum & Mason has served the Royals since Queen Charlotte. You have to go here to admire its atmosphere and pick up something as a gift or to take home. You have to go to Hamleys to find gifts for youngsters or the child in you. Just a few years younger, dating to 1760, Hamleys is among the world’s largest toy stores. Liberty, the “newbe” of the three must go to stores, dates to 1875. It’s in an elegant Tudor building that perfectly matches its elegant home accessories. But instead of stuffy, the offerings are clever and cutting-edge.

While in the area of the Piccadilly Circus or Bond Street Tubes, walk down Savile Row. Among the places to visit are the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store,  Or go over to the boutique filled Carnaby Street area. There are other shopping areas but don’t ignore London’s great Market.

Covent Garden Piazza: You’ll find three unique markets here. Look for arts and crafts in the North Hall’s Apple Market. TheEast Colonnade Market has jewelry and handmade soap. Products in the Jubilee Market in the South Piazza vary by day from antiques on Monday to general items other weekdays and crafts on the weekend.

Camden Markets: Save time to explore the markets in Camden Town at the Camden Town or Chalk Farm Tube Stations. There’s the Camden Lock Market at the canal which was the original craft-stall place in the mid 1970s. The Camden Stables Market has fashions.  Other markets including Inverness Street and Buck Street spread out across the area with clothes and other items. It’s a fun place to browse.

Insider Tip: If you want lunch someplace unique that is known to locals, go over to the Café in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields Church at Trafalgar Square. 

For more London information see Visit London

 For must go to places to shop see Fortnum & Mason Harrods  Harvey Nichols, Selfridges,Hamleys and Liberty of London.

Full moon after Thanksgiving


Summer 2023 supermoon (J Jacobs photo)
Summer 2023 supermoon (J Jacobs photo)

While many of us are wondering what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers or are heading back home after visiting relatives, beavers are busy constructing their dams for winter. Thus, the late November full moon is popularly known as the Beaver Moon. 

Yes, many full moons get their names from seasonal animal behaviors. As an example, the Dakota and Lakota tribes call the November moon the Deer Rutting Moon and the Algonquin tribe name it the Whitefish Moon for the spawning time. Other Native American names are Frost and Freezing.

The November full moon will start to rise at 4:16 a.m. EST next Monday but it will seem full on Sunday as it rises after sunset and will still look full on Tuesday. So look east.

Check The Old Farmer’s Almanac for more Native American moon names.

Other names are seasonal. The Cree and Assiniboine peoples call it the Freezing Moon and Frost Moon. For more Beaver info visit Time and Date which notes that beavers are nocturnal, so like the full moon’s light.

Other Native American names for the November Full Moon are Frost Moon and the Freezing Moon.

For good graphics visit EarthSky.

November brings the Taurids and Leonids plus an extra hour of sleep

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

It’s “fall back” time. Change clocks back an hour before you go to bed Nov. 4, 2023 or wait until morning Nov. 5, We say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time. at two a.m. on Sunday. Just remember: “Spring Ahead, Fall Back.”

Named for Taurus, the meteors shooting above now seem to emanate from that constellation. However, there is the Southern Taurids that started in September, go until Nov. 20 but peak Nov. 2-4 with a radiant at the southern part of the constellation. And, there are the Northern Taurids that peak Nov. 12-14 but have a radiant at the northern part. 

The Taurids are from the comet Encke (pronounced “EN-key”), mentioned by  18th-century German astronomer Johann Franz Encke., Visit the Farmer’s Almanac and Taurid Meteor Showers for more information.

Next, are the Leonids whose parent is 55PTempel-Tuttle. They are among the fastest meteors traveling about 44 miles per second.  They peak Nov. 17-18. They sometimes show up as impressive fireballs with colorful tails.

For more information visit Time and Date and EarthSky.

To see what’s up there in your sky, download “Sky Guide” and point phone to the sky.




Full moon and partial eclipse for October


Full moon ( J Jacobs photo)
Full moon ( J Jacobs photo)


The October full moon, called the Hunter’s Moon, rises 4:24 p.m., Oct. 28, 2023, but it will be below the horizon so wait until sunset to watch it, says the Old Farmer’s Almanac. However, as with past full moons, you get a preview on Oct. 27 and a continuation on Sept. 29. 

Why the Hunter Moon? It’s related to the autumnal equinox.  It follows the Harvest Moon that came Sept.29 in 2023. Its name came from the time that hunters could better find deer after leaves fell and fields were cleared. 

Other names coming from Native Americans are Falling Leaves and freezing moon.  

We had a partial eclipse of the sun in mid-October. Now it’s the moon’s turn.

If you are outside the eastern part of the US or in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe you get a bonus. You can watch a partial eclipse of the moon.  Time and Date will stream it live.