Catfish

Catfish, photo by Robert Bradley

ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids for its 5th year next Wednesday and runs September 24 – October 12th. The 19 day event turns downtown Grand Rapids into a free & open art competition for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. While you can certainly debate the merits of ArtPrize and the art displayed, there’s no question that this is one of the most engaging and immersive art events in the country.

You can check out the 2014 entries right here, look back through the years on their History page, and also see a video from 2013 that captures some on the flavor and fun. The only way to really experience it is to go, something that I heartily recommend!!

This is part of Kevin Sudeith’s Contemporary Petroglyphs installation along the Grand River.

View Robert’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his ArtPrize 2014 slideshow (which I expect will grow in the weeks to come).

Lots more ArtPrize on Michigan in Pictures!

Bring on the Spring!

April 21, 2014

Untitled

Untitled, photo by Brooke Pennington

Brooke has our yearly dose of spring bokeh. Drink deep and wash those winter blues away!

View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

More about bokeh on Michigan in Pictures.

ISS Flyover and Flythrough

February 8, 2014

Downtown Flyover

Downtown Flyover, photo by Kevin’s Stuff

The other night I came across an incredible video tour of the International Space Station by Commander Sunita Williams of NASA before she departed for Earth. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and does so much to make the experience of living, working and moving in space a lot more tangible.

Commander Williams is a big part of what makes this video so engaging. She guides you through the corridors of the space station with a skill for explanation that I have seldom (if ever) seen. If she were born a hundred or so miles to the east, she’d be a Michigander. She wasn’t though, so I guess it might not be true what my grandmother told me about Ohio. Read her blog of the mission at NASA. (great photos)

Kudos to Commander Williams, and to everyone who worked across national and other divisions to make the ISS a reality. This video really made my day and I hope it makes yours – click to watch on YouTube!

About the photo, Kevin writes:

The International Space Station flies through the constellation Orion in the skies over downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan on a chilly and windy October evening.

This was a low pass in the southern sky (maximum altitude 34 degrees) so I decided to drive downtown to see if I could get a shot as the spacecraft flew over the buildings. I had done something similar in March of 2010, and figured if I could do it once, a second time wouldn’t be a problem.

Using timings and coordinates from Heavens Above  via their Android app, I was able to determine where the flyover would begin and end. I set up my camera and did a few test shots before the actual time, and was ready by the time ISS was visible over the south-southwestern horizon.

I timed it so the light from the station would already be in the FOV of the lens, and opened the shutter until it disappeared a short time later. Then it was home to the computer to see if I could make anything out of the image. I guess I did.

Who says you can’t do astrophotography from the city? :)

View his photo bigger and see more in his ISS slideshow.

More nighttime photos on Michigan in Pictures.

Downtown shopping 1978

Downtown shopping 1978, photo by creed_400

Small Business Saturday is a campaign backed by American Express to keep your holiday dollars local. It really seems to have some traction this year (unlike most of the cars in the pic above). I hope you’re shopping with your neighbors where you can!

creed’s grandfather took this photo on Monroe Center in Downtown Grand Rapids in 1978. While I couldn’t find a photo from the same vantage, a look at his pics on Monroe Center will tell you that this is a vibrant area today. View this photo background big and see more in his Grandpa Molt’s slides slideshow!

Orion Aurora

Orion Aurora, photo by Kevin’s Stuff

This EarthSky article on the Pleiades gives some great lore and viewing tips and says that:

In our Northern Hemispheres skies, the Pleiades cluster is associated with the winter season. It’s easy to imagine this misty patch of icy-blue suns as hoarfrost clinging to the dome of night. Frosty November is often called the month of the Pleiades, because it’s at this time that the Pleiades shine from dusk until dawn. But you can see the Pleiades cluster in the evening sky well into April.

You can read much more at EarthSky.org and also might want to check out this story of the Pleiades.

November is also the month of the Aurora, delivering some of the best northern lights action. Kevin took this photo during one of the best solar storms in the last several decades on November 10, 2004. He wrote the following (in part) after viewing these lights:

It was a Dark and (Solar) Stormy Night. Stormy with shafts and rays of light streaming from the heavens.

We all knew there was a chance of another auroral display tonight. We were waiting. And then around 10:30pm or so (from Grand Rapids), the wait was over. This time I went out with my brother, taking back roads and such until we finally found a great spot in northeastern Kent County. We ended up off Old Belding Rd on Lessiter Rd, which is on the way to the Grattan Raceway.

The road faced north, so we were shooting right down the middle of it. There were some clouds around to the north, but nothing too bothersome. Most of the action was to the northeast, with not much seen in the way of color except green, and an occasional red and blue. There were curtains, rays, shafts, and some really good pulsing going on.

I of course used my 35mm film camera, and my brother had his Canon Digital SLR. I was a tad pickier this time, and only shot 3 rolls by the time 1:30 rolled around, and it started to wane. Also, we were getting some clouds coming in, so we bailed.

On the way back to civilization, I noticed it was picking up again … I finally found a place a few miles down the road with a good northern horizon, and set up the camera again.

Oh… My… God. The curtains! The pulsing rays!! The pulsing shafts of light as they flickered up the magnetic lines of force to the corona. I was seeing pulsating shafts from the south!! All of them converging near Orion, forming another spectacular corona. I shot, moved the camera, and shot again. Always looking for the best display, and ever mindful to watch for composition (at least I was keeping my photographers’ hat on during this), I shot frame after frame. At one point I was going to leave, as it was dying again. But as I put my camera in the car, it flared up to the point I HAD to get set up again; another roll of film in the camera. I finally stopped around 3:00, as it was dying down, and also because I knew if I didn’t force myself, I’d shoot until I ran out of film. … In all my years of observing the aurora, I’ve never seen such intense pulsating effects. Also, the coronas (all 5 I counted) had more detail in them than I had ever seen.

Check his photo out bigger with Kevin’s helpful note showing the Pleiades cluster in the top right and see more including a few more from November 2004 in his Aurora slideshow.

More of the night sky on Michigan in Pictures.

Church of the Hunter's Moon

Church of the Hunter’s Moon, photo by Kevin’s Stuff

Deborah Byrd is the founder of one of my favorite sites , EarthSky. Her article Everything you need to know: Hunter’s Moon 2013 explains:

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, look for the moon to be bright and full-looking for several nights around October 18, 19 and 20. Around all of these nights, you’ll see a bright round moon in your sky, rising around the time of sunset, highest in the middle of the night. This procession of moonlit nights is what characterizes a Hunter’s Moon.

…the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon sometimes falls in September and sometimes falls in October. So the Hunter’s Moon sometimes falls in October and sometimes in November.

But the Hunter’s Moon is also more than just a name. Nature is particularly cooperative around the time of the autumn equinox to make the full moonrises unique around this time. Here’s what happens. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox – either a Harvest or a Hunter’s Moon – the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full moon.

Why? The reason is that the ecliptic – or the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox. The narrow angle of the ecliptic results in a shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moonrises around the full Hunter’s Moon. These early evening moonrises are what make every Hunter’s Moon special. Every full moon rises around sunset. After the full Hunter’s Moon, you’ll see the moon ascending in the east relatively soon after sunset for a few days in a row at northerly latitudes.

Read on for more and definitely subscribe to their email!

Kevin is our go-to guy for all things astronomical. Check his photo out bigger and see more in his The Moon slideshow.

Lots more moon fun on Michigan in Pictures!

Clouds over Grand Rapids

September 12, 2013

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Untitled, photo by photofrenzy2000

An amazing shot of Michigan’s second largest city.

Check it out bigger and see more including some more incredible cloud shots in Gary’s slideshow.

More Grand Rapids on Michigan in Pictures.

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