Today’s Space Weather Forecast says that there’s chance for R1 – R2 (minor – moderate) solar radio blackouts are possible through 26 April due to solar Region 1726 which will rotate off the visible disk on or about 26 April.
Much (much) more about the aurora borealis including how weather on the sun impacts the northern lights on Michigan in Pictures.
April 18, 2013
“I’d rather do 20 miles on soft sand than 10 miles on the side of the road. There is something about being where water meets land. I feel very clicked-in there. I feel like I can go forever.”
USA Today has a feature on Loreen Niewenhuis, a Battle Creek resident who has hiked a good deal of the shorelines of all the Great Lakes. As to why, she explains:
“Our older son had gone off to college. The nest was emptying. I’d gotten my” master’s of fine arts degree … “but I felt I could stack up novels and not have an agent and be in my office writing novels forever,” says Niewenhuis, 49. “So I thought, let me do something completely different and get out of my office.”
So she put on her hiking boots. She got out the office.
Boy, did she ever.
Click through to read more about her journey and what she learned along the way. You can keep up with Lorraine’s latest including a planned walk on 1000 of Michigan islands on her Facebook page and at laketrek.com.
This photo is of Twelve Mile Beach in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, certainly one of the state’s best beaches. Check John’s photo out on black and see more in his My Favorites slideshow.
April 15, 2013
The Lyrid Meteor Shower at spaceweather.com explains that:
Every year in late April Earth passes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), and the encounter causes a meteor shower–the Lyrids. This year the shower peaks on Saturday night, April 21st. Forecasters expect 10 to 20 meteors per hour, although outbursts as high as 100 meteors per hour are possible.
Lyrid meteors appear to stream from the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. In fact, Lyrids have nothing to do with Vega. The true source of the shower is Comet Thatcher. Every year in April, Earth plows through Thatcher’s dusty tail. Flakes of comet dust, most no bigger than grains of sand, strike Earth’s atmosphere traveling 49 km/s (110,000 mph) and disintegrate as streaks of light.
Lyrid meteors are typically as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper, which is to say of middling brightness. But some are more intense, even brighter than Venus. These “Lyrid fireballs” cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that linger for minutes.
Occasionally, the shower intensifies. Most years in April there are no more than 5 to 20 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak. But sometimes, when Earth glides through an unusually dense clump of comet debris, the rate increases.
There’s no way of knowing whether or not this would be a big year, but I’d say that with the Iron Lady’s recent passing, there’s a chance! FYI, Comet Thatcher was named by A.E. Thatcher way back in 1861.
Nobody I know caught the Northern Lights Saturday night, but I thought that Cory’s photo taken when he went looking for Lyrids on April 22, 2012 would be the next best thing! Check it out on black and see more in his Space slideshow.
April 13, 2013
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore feature on the collapse of one of the two turrets at Miner’s Castle explains that 7 years ago today:
On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach.
Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.
While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).
All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.
Rockfalls along the cliffs typically occur in the spring and fall due to freezing and thawing action of Mother Nature.
March 23, 2013
I can tell when winter is wearing on folks when the spring & summer pictures start to flood in. I love the fact that we’re having the first normal Michigan winter in years but I can’t wait until the blues & greens and warm days return!
More islands on Michigan in Pictures.
March 16, 2013
Since I’m up in the Pictured Rocks, I thought it would be a good time to share this video of Lake Superior waves at Pictured Rocks in winter by Lars Jensen.
More from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures including a feature from Lars on Miners Castle from the winter of 2006!
March 15, 2013
The Michigan Historical Marker at Grand Marais reads:
Grand Marais, which is among Michigan’s oldest place names, received its name from French explorers, missionaries and traders who passed here in the 1600s. “Marais” in this case was a term used by the voyaguers to designate a harbor of refuge. In the 1800s Lewis Cass, Henry Schoolcraft and Douglass Houghton also found the sheltering harbor a welcome stopping place. Grand Marais’s permanent settlement dates from the 1860s with the establishment of fishing and lumbering. At the turn of the century Grand Marais was a boom town served by a railroad from the south. Its mills turned out millions of board feet annually. Lumbering declined around 1910, and Grand Marais became almost a ghost town, but the fishing industry continued. Many shipping disasters have occurred at or near the harbor of refuge, which has been served by the Coast Guard since 1899. In 1942 the first radar station in Michigan was built in Grand Marais. Fishing, lumbering and tourism now give Grand Marais its livelihood.
More Grand Marais on Michigan in Pictures!
The aurora borealis are one of the world’s most rare and wonderful sights and Michigan – especially the Upper Peninsula – is blessed with more than a few nights every year when this elusive phenomenon makes an appearance.
The Library of Congress page What Are the Northern Lights? calls on NASA’s Dr. Sten Odenwald, author of The 23rd Cycle, Learning to Live with a Stormy Star, to provide insight to how northern lights are formed:
The origin of the aurora begins on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. Scientists call this a coronal mass ejection (CME). If one of these reaches earth, taking about 2 to 3 days, it collides with the Earth’s magnetic field. This field is invisible, and if you could see its shape, it would make Earth look like a comet with a long magnetic ‘tail’ stretching a million miles behind Earth in the opposite direction of the sun.
When a coronal mass ejection collides with the magnetic field, it causes complex changes to happen to the magnetic tail region. These changes generate currents of charged particles, which then flow along lines of magnetic force into the Polar Regions. These particles are boosted in energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, they produce dazzling auroral light.
We focus on the beauty, but as he explains:
“Aurora are beautiful, but the invisible flows of particles and magnetism that go on at the same time can damage our electrical power grid and satellites operating in space. This is why scientists are so keen to understand the physics of aurora and solar storms, so we can predict when our technologies may be affected.”
One benefit from the economic & security concerns of predicting space weather is that you can get some great northern light forecasts. My favorite is NOAA’s Space Weather Service. They reported a G1 storm on March 1st – it’s the lowest intensity on the Space Weather Scales but as you can see is still able to produce auroral activity!
Greg took this photo Saturday night just before midnight at Presque Isle in Marquette – check it out on black and in his slideshow. You can see more of Greg’s work on Michigan in Pictures, at michigannaturephotos.com and definitely follow him at Michigan Nature Photos on Facebook.
January 25, 2013
HMR Ice in Pictured Rocks, photo by Luke Tikkanen
The abundant waterfalls that make the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore such a treat in summertime turn it into an amazing mecca for ice climbing every winter. Since 1983, Down Wind Sports has organized and promoted the Michigan Ice Festival in Munising. The event brings some of the top ice climbers in the world and features product demos, presentations, intro to climbing and plenty of climbing socials. 2013 dates are January 31 – February 3, so consider a trip north next weekend!
Today’s photo is the cover of the forthcoming edition of An Ice Climbers Guide To Munising Michigan by Jon Jugenheimer and Bill Thompson. There will be a release party for the book next Thursday (Jan 31) at Sydney’s in Munising. They explain:
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has been called one of the premier ice climbing areas in the country. Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Superior, it is renowned for its beautiful setting and phenomenal ice routes. This edition An Ice Climbers Guide To Munising Michigan offers the most thorough and up-to-date information, maps, and descriptions of the major ice climbing formations.
Click through for more about the book including some more great photos. This climb is known as HMR, out by Grand Portal Point in the Pictured Rocks. Here’s a panoramic photo of the climb in relation to the Portal.
January 22, 2013
Got to love what a lake like Superior can carve out of ice.
Right now the coldest air of the last 4 years has settled in across Michigan. Metro Detroit will see wind chills below zero today, Bay City/Saginaw and the surrounding area faces single digit temps and wind chills 15-20 degrees below zero, and it’s just 1 degree right now in Traverse City with double digit wind chills. A scan of Michigan temps shows Ironwood leading the way at a frigid -18 degrees with wind chills up to -26 expected. Bundle up!!
Here’s a funny chart about how Michiganders deal with cold via Absolute Michigan!
More cold on Michigan in Pictures!