Not one to let a good opportunity pass, Buehler Planetarium director Dr. David Menke has come up with an astronomy presentation tied to Thanksgiving. It's not that much of a stretch, when you consider that, without astronomical know-how, the Mayflower's navigators might never have gotten the Pilgrims safely to Plymouth Rock for that first feast back in 1621. Menke will devote most of "Thanksgiving Astronomy: Early America" to a talk on David Rittenhouse (1732-1796), a self-taught scientist and inventor who hung out with all the big colonial names; he was buds with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, among others. After the American Revolution, in fact, he was recognized as the first U.S. astronomer. But before that, in 1761, he documented step one in the transit of Venus, a time when the planet appears to pass in front of the sun. The transit takes place twice during an eight-year period, then waits a few hundred years to repeat the cycle. In order to get a good view of the 1769 spectacle, Rittenhouse built the first North American observatory with optical lenses. Also during his presentation, Menke will project images of 17th-century night skies onto the planetarium dome. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show cost $6. The planetarium is located at 3501 SW Davie Rd., Davie. Call 954-475-6680.
You can add Flook to the current wave of popularity being enjoyed by practitioners of traditional Irish music and dance. But instead of tappin' their toes, the quartet plays toe-tappin' flute tunes. The flute, of course, has a bit of a wimpy reputation, but there is strength in numbers. All four members of the Irish group play the instrument. "The range of different sounds arise[s] because we use different kinds of flutes," member Brian Finnegan says. "Silver, wood, and bamboo flutes all have their own individual characteristics, and of course we give them different roles in the group." Flook performs tonight at Palm Beach Community College's Duncan Theatre, 4200 S. Congress Ave., Lake Worth. Ticket prices for the 8 p.m. show range from $15 to $25. Call 561-439-8141.
Protease inhibitors, multiple-drug cocktails, and other advances are increasing the quality and length of life for many suffering from HIV and AIDS. A major downside to those breakthroughs, though, is that they're making some people complacent, suggesting that AIDS is less of a threat than it was during the '80s. Luckily, World AIDS Day events take place annually and remind folks that everything is not OK. In Fort Lauderdale things kick off tonight at 5 p.m. with the Pledge Walk For Life, a 5K jaunt that begins at Bubier Park (Las Olas Boulevard and Andrews Avenue), circles downtown, then heads back to the park for a Candlelight Memorial Service for those who've died from the disease. As part of the event, the "World AIDS Day Quilt Display" will be on view from November 29 through December 1 at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission to the exhibition, walk, and service are free. Call 954-792-0503.
German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) created the epic-drama style, which doesn't rely on setting and action to make its point but rather on the audience. Brecht's message was social justice, championing the poor and poking fun at the rich. To make sure viewers were getting the message, he broke down the illusion of reality by interrupting scenes with music and narration, as in his classic The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which concludes its run today at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt Performing Arts Center (777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Although it premiered in 1948, the play's story about a woman who saves and raises a governor's child during a feudal upheaval, covers a subject that's very relevant today: custody of kids. More specifically Brecht focuses on the issue of who deserves to bring up a child, the biological parents or others who may be better equipped. Here's a hint, written by Brecht himself: "Things should belong to those who do well by them." Showtimes are Friday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12. Call 561-297-3737.
Before radio gave way to TV in the '50s, the shows from radio's golden age -- the '20s through '40s -- provided the templates for boob-tube programming: situation comedies, soap operas, game shows, news, sportscasts, and, of course, talk shows. And while numerous books have been written about the time when Amos 'n' Andy and The Shadow ruled the radio airwaves, entertainment writer Gerald Nachman's Raised on Radio has been praised by critics as the most complete and personal. Part memoir, part history, the book "is a rediscovery of the Golden Age of Radio as I remember and experienced it," says Nachman. He will discuss his book at 7:30 p.m. today and Tuesday at Liberties Fine Books. This evening's talk is at the Fort Lauderdale location, 888 Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-522-6789. Tomorrow's is at the Boca Raton store, 309 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-368-1300. Admission is free.
Artist John Roloff can't just take a photograph or fire a piece of pottery. No, the experimental multimedia artist, first recognized for his huge landscape installations back in the '70s, feels compelled to manipulate his original works into mutated forms. Several brand-new pieces were commissioned for the show John Roloff: The Rising Sea, Images and Constructions From South Florida and Other Selected Works, and, as usual, they're a collective sight to behold. Gradient (Biscayne Giant), for instance, is a 20-by-42-foot monster of a photograph composed of multiple panels. The "giant" is a kapok tree Roloff took a picture of in Palm Beach. After he put the image into his computer, he stretched and stretched it, until it no longer resembled the tree it once was. Gradient dominates the exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (601 Lake Ave., Lake Worth), reaching from one gallery wall to another to the floor, where it spills across the tiles. So watch your step when checking out the show, which remains on view through January 3. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $2. Call 561-582-0006.
During the '20s, while laying out a master plan for Boca Raton, architect and developer Addison Mizner set aside a section of 29 Spanish-style houses in what is now known as Old Floresta. Built primarily for the executives and directors of his company, the houses were painted with pastel colors to deflect the sun. Inside, kitchens were located in the northwest corners so that breezes would provide natural ventilation. Ceilings were nine feet off the ground, which helped keep rooms cool, and many living rooms were fitted with floor-length French doors, once again to take advantage of breezes. The neighborhood is one of the stops during the trolley tours offered every Wednesday by the Boca Raton Historical Society. Other sites on the one-hour tour include the Boca Raton Resort & Club, Town Hall, and the 1930 train depot. Tickets cost $7.50 for the tour, which departs at 9:15 a.m. from Town Hall, 71 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Call 561-395-6766.