With 2020 bringing its most challenging obstacles, all businesses have felt the burden of staying open, let alone maintaining a great reputation. Through it all, two, old time staple restaurants on Fort Myers Beach keep rolling along.
Covid - 19, Red Tide, Hurricanes, years of road construction, and other obstacles, too numerous to mention have burdened all business in South West Florida, through it all, Junkanoos and one of the top-rated dining restaurants ... Fresh Catch Bistro, keep rolling along. These two popular restaurants have one thing in common... Consistency... Having been here for the past 20 years myself, I believe, that consistency is Jerry Nolan.... Jerry has been managing the affairs of both restaurants for the past 17 years.
I caught up with Jerry Nolan, long time manager of the Fresh Catch, who recently survived a fifteen-day hospital stay encounter with Covid -19 that I would not wish on my worst enemy, however ... fortunately.... it was not his time.... he had a difficult struggle but he survived and is still with us. He agreed to speak with us for this article.
I asked Jerry how the two restaurants have fared through the pandemic? Jerry said " It's been a challenge, like everyone else, the state closed us mid-March until May 4th, but actually, we have done very well, considering.”
I asked Jerry how his customers were dealing with this 'Covid mess'? he said "I'm glad to say, our new customers say ... 'We'll be back' and our regulars tell us 'Everything was great as usual'..... those are the best things I can hear from our guests ... whether they are new or been coming in for years, and remember, we are also still maintaining only a 70% capacity, the safety of our customers and staff are paramount!...”
When I asked about changes to the menu, Jerry told me Junkanoos is adding new menu items every week and teased me with 2 new items on the Fresh Catch menu, a great new appetizer, Seafood Salad, with Octopus, Crab Meat, Shrimp, Avocados, Peppers, Onions, Capers, and Tomatoes...$18 And a special entree "Beramundi Vera Cruz, an 8 oz pan seared filet, green olives, avocados, peppers , onions, capers, and tomatoes.... for $34 ........ sure to be a crowd pleaser!
I asked if Chef Pablo Felix was still the man behind the scenes...
Chef Pablo Felix
"Absolutely, without Pablo, co-chef Javier, and our great wait staff.... we might as well be a garage" he replied.... “and Pablo and his staff just have just won us the Trip Advisor prestigious 'Best of The Best' Award!
Which means that Fresh Catch Bistro came in the top 10% in the whole world, based on reviews and fine foods!!" Then added ... " Pablo is also making videos that are on our Facebook page, there are over 30 of them already, all with a comic flair!"
I mentioned to him, "You've been with this company 17 years, you must be doing something right! What's the secret?
Being who he is ... Jerry gave all the credit to everyone else ... he replied "1st. It's Franco Russo, who has proved himself a worthy owner, He's the head! Then, our great general manager, Neal, he makes the two places run, from crunching the numbers to working on our washing machine, he does it all!"
Then there's our Chefs, the Staff and the Great Food.... that what keeps them coming back, then there's our Co-managers, and we have 4 who are all 20 to 30 years younger than me, Jay, Andreas, Patrick and Reyes... their energy allows them to handle any situation, and I also want to mention our superb bartenders and our incredible office staff, Christine and Lisa" and then he closes with "and then I come along"
So, I asked... "What about the great tribute shows you have become famous for, The Rat Pack, Don Rickles, Streisand, Kenny Rogers and all the others?
Jerry said, "This year, those shows will be split up between The Moose Club, on San Carlos Blvd, FM Beach and Cape Cabaret on the corner of Vincennes Blvd. and 47th Ter. in Cape Coral, the first show will be the Rat Pack on January 27th at the Moose Club...
The great food and service continues and another great show is coming soon, look for more information on this next show below.
The Cape Coral Police Department and City of Cape Coral are teaming up with Waste Pro to keep our community safe and help prevent crime during the holidays. Instead of placing your empty gift boxes at the curb, Waste Pro is providing a community site where residents can dispose of cardboard boxes.
Boxes left at the roadway serve as billboard for criminals who drive through neighborhoods looking to see who received the newest televisions, video game systems, or other electronics. The goal is to reduce residential and vehicle burglaries. Don’t be an easy target for criminals.
The bin will be available for recyclable materials only.
1020 Cultural Park Boulevard (parking lot area across the street from City Hall)
December 24, 2020 through December 28, 2020.
In Southwest Florida all the big fireworks displays for New Year’s Eve, have been canceled, but you can still celebrate the New Year at smaller events that allow for more social distancing and other precautions. We found great events on Fort Myers Beach, (FM Beach) Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Estero and Bonita Springs.
What to do on New Year's Eve
The Salty Crab
1154 Estero Blvd, F M Beach.
Entertainment by : Meagan Rose 8-12
Dinner : a la carte
Island View: New Year’s Eve Gala
1400 Estero Blvd. FM Beach.
Entertainment: Angela Hicks, 8:30p.m.
Dinner: Four-Course Menu - 3 To 10pm (See Back Page Ad for details) $65 ea.
239-463-3111 for Reservations
Moose lodge 964
19090 San Carlos Blvd. FM Beach.
Entertainment: Danny Albani 8 p.m.
Dinner: Filet Mignon w/ Chicken
entree with all the fixings and all you Drink Open bar, Champagne toast at midnight, Party favors, Decorations and Free Parking. $50 Doors open at 6pm.
239-463-2221 Reservation Required.
1250 Estero Blvd, F M Beach.
Entertainment: The New Vinyls 8 pm
Dinner: a la carte
Oliver's Place This location just opened up this week! Come on out for their first New Years Eve Party With Electric Lipstick, if you want to dance into the New Year, this is the band that will keep the dance floor hoppin' all night long! With a Champagne toast at Midnight
7250 Estero Blvd. Ft Myers Beach.
Entertainment: Electric Lipstic
Dinner: a la carte
SUNDIAL Beach Resort
1451 Middle Gulf Drive, Sanibel, 6:30 pm - 12:00 am
Ring in the New Year with a family-friendly evening under the stars, complete with Guitarist and Steel Drums entertainment and buffet stations. Shellebrate on Turtle's Beach and the Main Pool Deck
Price Adults: $80 Children 4-12: $30 Children 3 and under: free
Cabana with reserved table seating: $850 - up to 10 ppl,
private cabana, tableside drink service, private champagne toast (limited cabanas availability) To purchase tickets, please call 239-395-7227. Tickets must be purchased in advance. for menu and multiple evening activities:
Caloosa Sound Convention Center Ballroom
2200 Edwards Dr. Ft Myers.
Entertainment: Stolen Fruit
Dinner: Extravagant Chef Action Buffet Stations
Open bar, Late night dessert buffet, Champagne toast at midnight, Party favors
Admission $150 ea, includes gratuity. Parking not
Coconut Falls Tiki Bar.
17200 17200 S Tamiami Trl, Ft Myers 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Entertainment: Ben Allen from “The Voice”: Iconic Band opens. $25 admission
Dinner: a la carte.
Includes a Champagne toast.
16440 S Tamiami Trail #11, Fort Myers, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Live Music: Split Decision
Dinner: Buffet Dinner, a Champagne toast. $35.
JC Cruises Dinner/Dance
Cruise on the Caloosahatchee River: Paddle-Wheel Boat 9 p.m.
1300 Hendry St., Ft Myers.
Entertainment: Dance Music
Dinner: Buffet Dinner, party favors, Champagne toast. $70 plus taxes,
239-334-7474 or jccruises.com
Paddywagon Irish Pub:
9330 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Unit 3, Fort Myers
New Year’s Eve celebration streaming live on TV from Ireland.
Entertainment: Guns n Hoses Pipes and Drums Band
(whether there are only an handful or the 20+ performing these folks are great)
Dinner: Pot Luck Meal and more. 5-9 p.m. FREE!
Thanks to: Women of Irish Heritage SWFL
239-689-5021 or facebook.com/paddywagonsixmile
20041 S. Tamiami Trail, # 19, Estero. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Entertainment: Journey Tribute Never Stop Believin’
Dinner: A Five-Course Dinner. Champagne toast with the band. $120
20% gratuity included
4725 Vincennes Blvd., Cape Coral. 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Entertainment: The Goldtones: 8 p.m Oldies/Doo-Wop
Dinner: A Four-Course Dinner & party favors,
Champagne toast, balloon drop. $72, 20% gratuity
included 239-549-3000 or capecabaret.com
Crossroads Grill & Lounge
Merchants Plaza, 211 Hancock Bridge Pkwy, Cape Coral, FL 33990
Live: Proper Villians 8 p.m.
Dinner: a la carte,
Champagne toast, FREE Admission
Big Storm Brewery
4721 SE 10th Place, Cape Coral. 7 P.M.
Entertainment: Soulixer and the Riverside Band
Dinner: a la carte, Party Favors, A Photo Booth and more.. Free ...at 10 p.m. inside and outside VIP table reservations for 4 are $125 and up and include dessert and a bottle of Champagne for each person.
239-257-1401 or facebook.com/bigstormbrewingcapecoral
The Seaside Bar
24850 Old 41 Road, Unit 12, Bonita Springs 9 p.m.
Entertainment : Dueling Pianos Show
Dinner: Five-Course Dinner, Champagne Toast. $99
239-288-1470 for menu: facebook.com/TheSeasideBar
There you go! Lots of options!
If you go to an in-person event, the CDC still recommends wearing a face mask when walking around. Also be patient when approaching others, people will move and make space for you...
Dear Doctor: Do marijuana users really have more sex? Why would that be? I ask out of simple curiosity, of course.
Dear Reader: I suspect you're referring to a recent, much-publicized study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Before I answer your question, however, let's consider: Why is sex so important? From a biological perspective, male-female sex is necessary for procreation and, without it, none of us would be here. But aside from the sperm-meets-egg function of intercourse, greater amounts of sex with one partner have indeed been linked to greater happiness.
A 2015 study in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science analyzed data from three studies totaling more than 30,000 people. The study looked at sex frequency, relationship satisfaction and happiness. The authors found that, although sexual frequency led to greater relationship satisfaction and happiness, those factors plateaued when sex occurred four to six times per month -- meaning that having sex more than once a week did not alter relationship satisfaction or happiness compared to having intercourse once a week.
This brings us to the latest study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The authors analyzed data from a health questionnaire called the National Survey of Family Growth. Participants ages 15 to 44 were asked about their frequency of intercourse four weeks prior to the survey. The participants also were asked about their frequency of marijuana use; 28,176 women and 22,943 men participated in the study, with an average age of about 30.
Granted, the study's parameters were narrow, featuring only questions about male-female sex. Still, marijuana use did correlate with higher sexual frequency. In a four-week time period, men who had never used marijuana had sex an average of a little more than five times; men who used marijuana weekly had intercourse an average of six times; and men who used marijuana daily had sex an average of seven times. Among women, those who had never used marijuana had intercourse an average of six times, while those who used it weekly or daily had intercourse an average of seven times.
Keep in mind, however, that the link between marijuana and sex is a correlation -- it doesn't reflect causation. The true connection between the two may simply be risky behavior. That said, for many people, marijuana is a relaxant, helping them forget their anxieties. It also decreases inhibition, and many users report that sexual experiences are more pleasurable with the drug. So it's simple to deduce how marijuana could increase sexual frequency.
Regardless, an increase in sexual frequency of one to 1 1/2 sex events per month hardly seems enough to warrant regular marijuana use. It certainly seems unlikely to increase the happiness we referenced earlier.
For starters, users can become dependent upon the drug, needing it before they have sex. Also, marijuana, like alcohol and other drugs, can lead to more promiscuous behavior, especially in younger adults. This can lead to intercourse with multiple partners and a failure to use condoms, raising the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
So yes, marijuana use may lead to slightly more sex -- but also more risk.
Eve Glazier, M.D.
and Elizabeth Ko, M.D
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a renewed interest in estate planning. Indeed, many people who have put off making a will or other critical estate planning documents are now looking to get their affairs in order. One such document is a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, which is a special type of power of attorney for medical decisions.
If you do not currently have a Health Care Surrogate, here is a brief overview of what the designation entails and why it is a good idea to have one.
What Can a Health Surrogate Do (and Not Do)?
Florida law permits you to designate another person, known as a “surrogate,” to “make health care decisions” for you. The surrogate can only act if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. As long as you have “decision making capacity,” your wishes and instructions to your health care providers override any contrary decisions made by the surrogate. Unless you direct otherwise, your surrogate only steps in and takes charge after your primary physician determines you are no longer capable of making your own health care decisions.
It is generally a good idea to name a backup to your surrogate if your first choice is unavailable or unable to act for any reason. You can also name two or more people to serve as “co-surrogates,” but you should think carefully before taking this step. If your co-surrogates disagree as to how to proceed with your care, a judge may need to get involved and appoint a guardian to make a final decision.
In designating a health care surrogate, you can authorize that person to perform any of the following actions on your behalf:
● receive information related to your health care from your doctor or other providers;
● discuss your current medical condition and treatments with your providers;
● give or refuse consent to any medical procedures, including “life-prolonging procedures”;
● apply for government benefits to help pay for the cost of your health care; and
● make “anatomical gifts,” i.e., consent to organ donation.
Again, it is important to emphasize that you have the right to make all of these decisions for yourself. You can even sign a separate “living will” to clearly express how you wish to be treated in the event you have a terminal or end stage condition, or you are in a “persistent vegetative state” with no reasonable chance of recovery.
Also note, by designating a health care surrogate, you are only authorizing that person to make medical decisions. Your surrogate has no authority to manage your property or finances. You need to sign a separate power of attorney to appoint someone to handle those matters for you.
Even when Florida is not in the grips of a worldwide pandemic, you should still take the time to create (or review) your estate plan. A qualified Fort Myers estate planning attorney can help. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to schedule a free confidential consultation with a member of our estate planning team.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson want to address water quality and tidal flooding issues differently than lawmakers have done so since at least 2017.
The two new leaders of the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature are tentatively proposing the state develop with its 412 cities and 67 counties a priority list of projects to mitigate rising waters that flood streets, damage homes and ruin businesses, similar to the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) five-year work program.
At risk, according to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, is $145 billion in taxable property for an estimated 300,000 homes projected to be underwater by 2050 after sea levels rise by 2.5 feet.
“With 1,350 miles of coastline, relatively low elevations, and communities built largely on top of former swampland, Florida remains particularly vulnerable to the risk of flooding caused by sea level rise,” Simpson, R-Trilby, and Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, wrote in a Florida Politics op-ed. “Over the last several years, we have seen that risk grow exponentially.”
The emphasis, apparently, will shift spending away from land acquisition to protect watersheds to focus on removing septic tanks, safeguarding natural springs, building flood-mitigation infrastructure and reassessing the state’s – and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ – commitment to the 10,100-acre, $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir project. The reservoir is being built to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River estuaries that spawn blue-green algae blooms.
Congress approved last summer the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, which provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on the EAA, which was approved by state lawmakers in 2017 as a key improvement in the 40-year, $8 billion Everglades restoration plan approved by Congress in 2000.
It marked only the second time in 20 years the federal government provided its full $200 million annual commitment to Everglades restoration.
The boost in federal funding dovetails with DeSantis’ four-year, $2.5 billion state-funded Everglades restoration plan. The first two years have been approved by lawmakers, including more than $625 million in this year’s spending plan.
DeSantis wants to accelerate the EAA reservoir project to be completed in seven years rather than 10. He is expected to submit a $625 million budget request for the third year of the plan before lawmakers convene their 2021 session March 3.
Getting that money may not be a slam dunk if Simpson’s comments during the Nov. 17 organizational session and at last week's Florida Chamber of Commerce Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit are prognostic.
Simpson said with the pandemic punching a projected $3.4 billion to $5 billion hole in the state’s next two fiscal years, approving the EAA in 2017 was a “mistake” and the state “probably should stop building.”
An egg farmer, Simpson is among agricultural interests, including the state’s sugar industry, that favored drilling deep injection wells north of Lake Okeechobee rather than the EAA. He said the wells would produce “twice the bang for our buck” with two key two benefits.
“First of all, it doesn’t allow (runoff) to go into the lake to have to be discharged. So, that’s a positive,” Simpson said. “Number two, it allows you during drought times to be able to pull that water back out of the aquifer and use it. So, I think this year, we will spend a lot of time talking about the northern Everglades restoration.”
The Center Square
As property insurance rates skyrocket, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will become an increasingly more affordable option for Florida’s 6.2 million homeowners.
That could be disastrous, however, Citizens' Actuarial & Underwriting Committee warned in its 2021 rate package proposal.
“Citizens’ policy count has grown by more than 100,000 in the last year with between 2,000-3,000 new policies being written each week in recent months,” the proposal stated. “If nothing changes, growth of at least an additional 100,000 policies is expected by year-end 2021. This current trend is not sustainable and could put Citizens’ solid financial position at risk.”
According to its Nov. 30 "snapshot," Citizens had 532,788 policyholders last month, topping a half-million for the first time since 2015.
The number of Citizens policyholders has increased by 65,000 since July and by nearly 90,000 – from 444,323 – since Nov. 30, 2019. The report projected more than 630,000 will be enrolled this time next year.
Citizens is a nonprofit corporation created by state lawmakers in 2002 to provide property insurance to homeowners and businesses unable to acquire coverage after corporate insurers such as State Farm, Allstate and Liberty Mutual abandoned Florida because of hurricane losses.
Citizens’ policy count swelled in 2012 to 1.5 million, with the state backing $10 billion in property insurance policies. A “depopulation” initiative to transfer policies – and liability – to private property insurers whittled the count to a low of 419,475 in October 2019.
Residents can purchase Citizens insurance if they cannot find private insurance or if a private insurer’s policy is priced 15% above a comparable Citizens’ offering. State law precludes Citizens from raising renewal rates more than 10%.
Citizens’ proposed 2021 rate package calls for an average rate increase of 3.7% effective Aug. 1, 2021. Under its proposal, homeowner multiperil policies would increase 2% and condominium rates by 6.4%.
Citizens’ proposed increases are far below those most Florida homeowners are facing.
Citing ballooning reinsurance costs, loss creep from 2017 and 2018 hurricanes, nonweather coastal flooding and excessive litigation costs, many of the state’s 60 independent insurers are seeking eye-popping rate increases from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR).
At least 12 insurers have requested rate hikes topping 15 percent since last December, including several increase requests between 30% and 40%.
Many independent insurers in Florida’s market are thinly capitalized and, therefore, influenced by reinsurance rates. Reinsurance essentially is insurance for insurers. It is financed by private capital from hedge funds and other sources that essentially gamble against hurricanes.
After a decade without a landfall hurricane in Florida, 2017's Hurricane Irma caused $17 billion in damage and 2018’s Hurricane Michael caused $12 billion, ending an era of “soft pricing.”
Because Florida allows claims to be filed three years after an event, reinsurers are hedging bets by requesting carriers raise rates between 25% to 45% in renewing Florida policies to account for 2017-18 loss creep.
Citizens’ ratepayers are not as vulnerable to reinsurance costs because the state is, essentially, the “insurer of last resort” and the 10% cap on renewal increases.
Without the cap, the proposal estimated Citizens’ suggested 3.7% rate hike would range from 10.7% to 77% for different categories in different areas of the state. Ninety-one percent of Citizens’ homeowners policyholders "pay less than the average private insurer’s rate … mostly due to the difference in reinsurance expenses,” according to the proposal.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, has crafted a bill that would do away with the 10% cap on rate hikes that keeps Citizens' policies artificially inexpensive.
If Citizens does not align with the private insurers, Brandes said, more will flee the private market and swamp Citizens, making it too big not to fail.
The Center Square
Ed. Note: This story was updated for better coverage of the entire meeting, it was the last meeting of 2020 and had a full agenda.
Fort Myers Beach Town Council began their meeting with a discussion of a "Crash" in their email system, probably due to a power outage from hurricane Etta. Emails are now working again, if you sent one recently, it's probably a good idea to resend it again.
First public comment was from Len Lemmer from Nervous Nellie's who was representing a group of citizens and businesses that surround Bayside Park who seek to have some input on its design, to put their concerns on the public record, mentioning honoring our Veterans.
Next Peter Ennis, co owner of Snug Harbor Restaurant, who also addressed suggestions about stage and bleachers among other concern about the design of Bayside Park. Nick Ruland spoke next, co owner of Snug Harbor Restaurant, bringing up lighting issues in the area among other issues.
Laurie Russell manager of Marina Village also located by Bayside Park added suggestions for a Splash Pad she saw during a visit at Babcock Ranch and also spoke about a Veterans Memorial Walkway.
Jan Lee spoke about Leonardo Arms bringing concern to the council about beach erosion at her building. Another resident (Cheryl?) also spoke about the beach erosion at the Leonardo Arms.
Boyd Sanharvest( please forgive if the names are not correct, the zoom meetings dialog are sometimes unclear) spoke about the Clock in Times square, with some impressive math to back his argument of the value that Clock has brought to the beach. Closing with, "I just want to recognize that it is important"
Paul Winter resident since 2004, spoke about lack of communications/ responses to inquiries with Town Council, also spoke about the abuse of deputies being paid $50 an hour at the traffic lights, they are supposed to be at the concrete medium under the traffic light. He ran out of time and was asked to wrap it up and give balance of comments to the clerk.
Mr. Seborea spoke about bathroom in public right of way.
Chris Shaub? spoke about beach chair and umbrella permitting Gail Mason spoke about the Arches and the Clock at today's council meeting but it's not on the agenda. She suggested that 2 members of Council and 2 members of County commission and get together a meeting of all the parties concerned.
Earl Morgan spoke about restoring the Arches.
Ray Murphy was again selected by Council to serve as Mayor and Rexann Hosafros was selected as Vice Mayor. The full agenda included discussion about beach renourishment, grant applications to the Lee County Tourism Development Council (TDC) for 2021, and two committee reports, among other items.
Representatives from the Town’s Anchorage Advisory Committee (AAC) and Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB) submitted update reports. The AAC wants Town Council to approve the purchase and renovation of private property in the vicinity of Harbor House for the Mooring Field upland services facility. If approved, upland services would be managed by the Town instead of an outside service provider.
Related to the redevelopment of Bay Oaks, BORCAB wants Town Council to reconsider the original, full-scale plan that exceeds the current budget by 300 percent. BORCAB believes that the community would support the millions of dollars above the budget that this larger plan would cost. A joint meeting between Town Council and BORCAB is scheduled for January 2021.
In other business, Town Council approved extra-duty detail contracts with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to control pedestrian crossings at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge and the intersection of Old San Carlos and Estero Boulevard. Boat patrols were also approved with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Public restrooms came up again during discussion about the Town’s requests to Lee County’s Tourism Development Council (TDC) for funding for various projects. The list of requests was approved. The list includes beach and shoreline maintenance and beach renourishment as well as signs, landscaping, restrooms and shade structures at Mound House and Newton Beach Park, and portable restroom trailers at the Palm Avenue Beach Access.
First public hearings were held for the special events, water supply facilities work plan, and height and setback requirements ordinances. The special events and height and setback requirements ordinances second public hearings are scheduled for Town Council’s first meeting in 2021, on January 11. The second hearing on the water supply facilities work plan is scheduled for the meeting on March 1, 2021.
Lastly, Town Councilors decided to cancel the annual cupcakes and New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square and the Town’s 25th birthday party due to continuing concerns about the spread of COVID where groups of people gather.
The next regularly-scheduled Town Council meeting will be on Monday, January 11, 2021, at 9 a.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 2525 Estero Boulevard. In keeping with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19, Council meetings are adhering to standards of social distancing and have reduced capacity for an audience. Masks or other face-coverings are mandatory.
Council meetings are broadcast live on the Town’s YouTube channel and Comcast Channel 98. Visit www.fmbgov.com, then click on the title Mayor and Council, then go to Meetings & Agendas. Agendas and minutes of meetings are also available at that link. To find out when Council meetings are scheduled, visit the Town’s website at www.fmbgov.com and scroll down the homepage to the calendar. Keep up on meeting schedules by signing up to receive emails through the website’s Notify Me feature. Find that feature under the Quick Links column on the homepage.
Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.
In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the night sky, discovering the four moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In that same year, Galileo also discovered a strange oval surrounding Saturn, which later observations determined to be its rings. These discoveries changed how people understood the far reaches of our solar system.
Thirteen years later, in 1623, the solar system’s two giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, traveled together across the sky. Jupiter caught up to and passed Saturn, in an astronomical event known as a “Great Conjunction.”
Each night, the two planets will appear closer low in the southwest an hour after sunset as illustrated in the below graphic:
“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”
The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years.
What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”
as seen with binoculars
The closest alignment will appear just a tenth of a degree apart and last for a few days. On the 21st, they will appear so close that a pinkie finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky. The planets will be easy to see with the unaided eye by looking toward the southwest just after sunset.
From our vantage point on Earth the huge gas giants will appear very close together, but they will remain hundreds of millions of miles apart in space. And while the conjunction is happening on the same day as the winter solstice, the timing is merely a coincidence, based on the orbits of the planets and the tilt of the Earth.
On Dec. 21st the two planets will appear as one and bright to the naked eye.... this is why it is refered to as the Christmas Star
“Conjunctions like this could happen on any day of the year, depending on where the planets are in their orbits,” said Throop. “The date of the conjunction is determined by the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth in their paths around the Sun, while the date of the solstice is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis. The solstice is the longest night of the year, so this rare coincidence will give people a great chance to go outside and see the solar system.”
as seen through a good telescope
For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here’s what to do:
• Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
• An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible.
Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
• The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be
able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.