One of Key West’s biggest events is expected to bring 125 gray-bearded gentlemen to Florida’s southernmost city next month. They will be competing in the annual Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of Key West’s big summer festival, Hemingway Days.
Other events scheduled during the July 15-20 fete include prose and poetry readings, short story contest, marlin fishing tournament, museum exhibits, 5K Sunset Run, Paddleboard Race, and a street fair.
Th festival honors author Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Key West from 1931 to 1939. During that time, Hemingway wrote some of his most famous works, among them For Whom the Bell Tolls and To Have and Have Not. His former home is one of Key West’s major attractions.
Hemingway Days follows another Key West festival, Mel Fisher Days, which honors the man who salvaged the treasure-rich Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha in the waters south of Key West.
Highlights of the July 10-13 festival include a dock party, tours of Fisher’s conservation lab, a team treasure hunt and a street fair. Items recovered from the Atocha, valued at $450 million, can be seen in the city’s Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Event information: www.melfisherdays.com .
Key West also has special plans for the Independence Day weekend. In addition to fireworks, the celebration will include the city’s annual July 4 picnic and the unique Key Lime Pageant, during which a key lime pie nine feet in diameter will be created — and eaten. Information: www.keylimefestival.com.
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 800-LAST-KEY.
Perhaps you’ve looked up at the starry night sky, gazing in wonder at the Milky Way, the constellations, the planets in our solar system. With even a modest telescope, you can see a lot more — the craters of the moon, the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter. But with even more powerful instruments you may explore much more of the universe.
If you’d like to get such a closer look at the heavens, weather permitting, Florida has several observatories that will let you peer into their powerful telescopes. They offer public viewing on certain days; call for hours and other details:• Cocoa: Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory, located on the Cocoa campus of Eastern Florida State College, Friday and Saturday evenings. 321-433-7373, www.easternflorida.edu/community-resources/planetarium/.
• Davie: Buehler Planetarium and Observatory at Broward Community College, every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. 954-201-6315, www.iloveplanets.com/.
• Miami: Weintraub Observatory at Miami Science Museum, first Friday of every month. 305-646-4200, www.miamisci.org/www/planetarium_observatory.php.
• Orlando: Orlando Science Center, every Friday and Saturday evening. 407- 514-2000, www.osc.org/.
• St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg College, three Fridays a month during summer. 727-341-4320, www.spcollege.edu/planetarium/.
For stargazers looking for a real sky show, Florida has 26 planetariums. For locations and details, go to www.go-astronomy.com/planetariums-state.php?State=FL. In Miami, the Southern Cross Astronomical Society holds free telescope observing events, www.scas.org.
When a rocket is launched from Cape Canaveral, it’s quite a show. A billowing blast of fire, the throbbing sound pounding against your body, the long trail of smoke as the rocket rises slowly into the sky. If you want to see a live launch from the Florida base, several are planned this summer. Target dates for launches often change, so it’s advisable to keep checking.
A good site to keep up with dates and details of upcoming launches is www.spacecoastlaunches.com, which also has a map of good viewing spots. Best site is at Kennedy Space Center, but you have to reserve launch-watching tickets in advance. See www.kennedyspacecenter.com.
Following are launches planned this summer:• July, date TBD: Falcon 9 rocket will launch a communications satellite.
• July 23: Evening launch of a Delta 4 rocket carrying a communications satellite.
• July 31: Night launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a navigation satellite.
• Aug. 8: Falcon 9 rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station.
• August, date TBD: Falcon 9 rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station.
• Sept. 16: Atlas 5 rocket launching a communications satellite.
Florida’s State Parks recently launched an interactive PocketRanger mobile app that features photos, maps, park information and activities in the nation’s biggest state park system.