When it comes to astronomy, "there's a lot that can be done without a telescope," according to J.C. Moritz, education coordinator at Buehler Planetarium (3501 SW Davie Rd., Davie). During tonight's 7:30 p.m. presentation, Binocular Astronomy, she'll talk about the types of things you can see from your back yard with the naked eye or a set of binocs. "Before you even think about getting a telescope, you need to familiarize yourself with the constellations and a little trick called star-hopping," she says. When you hop, you gauge the position of a "deep-sky object" -- something you need a telescope to see -- by using a closer, naked-eye object as a guide. Using binoculars and basic star maps is a great way to work up to more advanced observations, says Moritz. And with a few hours of hopping under your belt, you may just locate the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and open-star clusters. Moritz will have binoculars on hand for the audience to try out. Admission is $6. Call 954-475-6680.
The photographers whose works are featured in "Preserving the Everglades" have done all the sweaty, mosquito-infested work so that viewers can trek through the River of Grass in air-conditioned comfort. But one look at Jan McVay's prints of mist rising off of murky waters or Tom McCartney's shot of a densely wooded hammock, and you can almost feel the mud beneath your feet, the moisture on your brow. McVay is an award-winning nature photographer, and some of McCartney's works hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. For the show they're joined by Fatima NeJame, who uses computer imaging to augment her color prints, and Grace Schaub, who hand-colors her black-and-white prints with oil paint. The show opens today in the museum at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre (55 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach). "Capturing Florida's Wildlife" -- which includes works by renowned wildlife photographers John Lopinot, Claudine Laabs, and Dick Donovan -- is also on view in the center gallery. Both exhibitions run through June 6. Admission is a $3 suggested donation. Call 561-276-9797.
Over a two-year period, preschoolers who watched Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. TV programming improved their social and thinking skills significantly, according to a recent study at the University of Alabama. So by all means, take the kids to see Gullah Gullah Island, the stage version of the Nick Jr. show hosted by Ron and Natalie Daise. The real-life couple hosts kids on Gullah Gullah Island, their fictional home off the coast of South Carolina. Neighbors and friends from all backgrounds drop by to show kids how to fish, farm, and cook the island way -- by cooperating. Traditional and modern songs accompany the action as the storyline delivers its multicultural message. Gullah Gullah Island will be performed at 10:30 a.m. today at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $6. Call 800-572-8471 or 561-832-7469. Performances will also take place at 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Coral Springs City Centre Theatre, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs. Ticket prices range from $8.50 to $12.50. Call 954-344-5990.
The Spanish word grupo means "group" in English, and both Grupo Guarapo and Grupo Detalle are on the entertainment bill for HispanicFest '98. Those who actually needed a translator for the grupo part would do well to attend the event, a virtual primer on Hispanic culture that includes arts, music, dance, crafts, and ethnic foods. The annual benefit for Hispanic Unity of Florida, a nonprofit Hispanic community-services agency, also features entertainment by international salsa group Lefty Perez and His Twelve-Piece Band. Other musical acts include the bands Maelo and Trichoche and the aforementioned grupos. Folkloric dance will be performed by the Bolivia Magica and Los Pleneros troupes. The event takes place from noon to 7 p.m. on Hollywood Boulevard between Dixie Highway and Young Circle in downtown Hollywood. Admission is free. Call 954-921-3238.
As the battle raged for Israeli independence during the '40s, Maza Lomemberg worked at the central post office in Jerusalem. The Jewish woman decoded British telegrams for the Haganah rebels. She wasn't found out, but nearly lost her decoding sheet in a knife-point robbery before the army gave her a purse with a secret compartment. In the book Testament: At the Creation of the State of Israel, author-photographer Aaron Levin tells Lomemberg's story and provides archival photos as well as his own shot of her standing outside the post office, holding the decoding sheet. Published to coincide with Israel's 50th anniversary, Testament includes dozens of profiles of well-known Israelis like Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir. But the stories about the unknowns, such as Lomemberg and Shalom Massvari -- who starved himself so he could be smuggled out of prison in a suitcase -- are the most poignant. Levin appears at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Liberties Fine Books, 309 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Admission is free. Call 561-368-3302.
One day in the late '50s or early '60s, in a famous supper club in Havana, the house dancers were bored and decided to try something new during rehearsal. Using the flash and flourish of Hispanic folk dances, they started to synchronize their steps. Salsa dance was thus born, and now, in a different kind of club altogether -- the Polish American Club (935 Rock Island Rd., North Lauderdale) -- salsa beginners and experts step out each Tuesday and Thursday night with the folks from Latin Beat Dance Studios. Like square dancing, salsa is supervised by a caller who yells out the steps, but the similarities end there: Salsa steps are much more complex. Individual and group salsa dance classes are taught both nights at 7 p.m. Cost is $6 per class, but the first lesson is free. Call 954-746-4444 for more information.