March 19, 2013
March 14, 2013
Sometimes I see photos of certain places so much that I figure I’ve said all there is to say about them. Such was the case with one of one of Michigan’s most iconic lighthouses. I realized that although I’d seen hundreds of photos, I had no idea how “Big Red” in Holland got its name. Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light tells the story of the Holland Harbor Light from the construction of a timber frame beacon on the south pier in 1870 up until the 1930s when:
The Holland Lights were electrified in 1932. Equipped with a 5,000 candlepower incandescent electric bulb, the Fourth Order lens was now visible for a distance of 15 miles. The old steam-operated ten-inch fog whistle was removed from the fog signal building the following year, and replaced with an air operated whistle powered by an electric motor-driven compressor. In 1936, a square tower was erected at the west end of the fog signal building roof peak, and capped with an octagonal cast iron lantern, the lens from the pierhead beacon moved into the new lantern. The steel pierhead beacon was then removed from the pier and shipped to Calumet, where it was placed at the south end of the breakwater.
A Coast Guard crew arrived in Holland in 1956, and gave the combined fog signal building and lighthouse a fresh coat of bright red paint in order to conform to its “Red Right Return” standard, which called for all aids to navigation located on the right side of a harbor entrance to be red in coloration. Local residents thus began referring to the fifty year old structure as “Big Red,” a name which has stuck through the years. The Fourth Order lens was subsequently removed from the fog signal lantern in the late 1960’s, and replaced with a 250 mm Tidelands Signal acrylic optic.
Much more including photos at Seeing the Light.
Many more Michigan lighthouses 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.
I’ve always found snow & cold to be a lot more tolerable when accompanied by a healthy dose of sun & blue skies. About this photo Jim writes:
During the recent snowshoe weekend with my buddies Jim, Fred and Roger, we snowshoed the trails of this beautiful park located in my hometown. A recent snowfall had left a good blanket of powder that hadn’t been groomed as of yet for cross-country skiing. Lucky for us!
The City of Ironwood, Michigan passed an ordinance in 2011 that designated 167 acres of city-owned land in the center of Ironwood as the Miners Memorial Heritage Park. This area once contained five iron ore mines, the last of which closed in the 1960′s. The Friends of Miners Memorial Heritage Park has created a 2.6 mile looping trail through a portion of this area for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The Park is “Dedicated to those who toiled underground to work these mines. Many died in the darkness so future generations could live in the light.”
More about the park including some old photos at fmmhp.com.
January 3, 2013
Wikipedia says that 211 West Fort Street is a 27 story skyscraper that was completed in 1963. Current tenants include the Detroit Economic Club, the Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Michigan and the United States Attorney. If you’re a measuring sort of person, it’s the 18th tallest building in Detroit, right after the David Broderick Tower.
More architecture on Michigan in Pictures.
November 26, 2012
Recently in Peter Peterson and the Iron River Meteorite on Yooper Steez, Alice Rossignol remembered a day in 1889:
…when a six-year old boy named Peter Peterson (yes, this was actually his name) was helping his father clear rocks from a field near Iron River.
Things were proceeding as usual (I’m assuming) when little Peter noticed that one rock was much heavier than others of the same size. He showed the 3.13-pound whopper to his father who told him to toss it like the others.
But Peter, being a six-year old boy, kept it.
According to Von Del Chamberlain, a former MSU professor who recounts this story here, the rock was later identified as a meteorite, a fact which he later confirmed.
How rare are confirmed meteorites? There have only been 10 verified in Michigan, and this meteorite is currently the only verified meteorite in the Upper Peninsula. Read on for more about this story and some meteorwrongs (mis-identified meteorites) and dig into Prof. Del Chamberlain’s account for the scientific lowdown and how it ended up in Chamberlain’s hands almost 80 years later. You can also read the entirety of Chamberlain’s publication Meteorites of Michigan online.
November 5, 2012
Wikipedia says that the Cadillac Tower was the first building outside New York City and Chicago to have 40 floors with a spire height of 438 ft making it Detroit’s 12th tallest building. It’s a Beaux Arts skyscraper that was designed by the architectural firm of Bonnah & Chaffee and built in 1927 as Barlum Tower.
The building is best known, however, for its hanging murals. From 1994 to 2000, one side of the building featured a 14-story Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders, which was replaced with one of Red Wings star Steve Yzerman. Currently the building features an ad for the Fidelity investments.
More Michigan architecture on Michigan in Pictures.
October 8, 2012
Lake of the Clouds is a favorite here on Michigan in Pictures, so it was a happy morning when I found Neil’s great shot of sunrise over the lake.
September 22, 2012
This morning north of Ludington, photo by Debbie Maglothin
It seems only fitting to follow up waterspouts with rainbows. The National Center for Atmospheric Research has an incredibly comprehensive page about rainbows. After explaining the optics behind rainbows (complete with diagrams), they delve into double rainbows:
Sometimes we see two rainbows at once, what causes this? We have followed the path of a ray of sunlight as it enters and is reflected inside the raindrop. But not all of the energy of the ray escapes the raindrop after it is reflected once. A part of the ray is reflected again and travels along inside the drop to emerge from the drop. The rainbow we normally see is called the primary rainbow and is produced by one internal reflection; the secondary rainbow arises from two internal reflections and the rays exit the drop at an angle of 50 degrees° rather than the 42°degrees for the red primary bow. Blue light emerges at an even larger angle of 53 degrees°. This effect produces a secondary rainbow that has its colors reversed compared to the primary, as illustrated in the drawing, adapted from the Science Universe Series Sight, Light, and Color.
It is possible for light to be reflected more than twice within a raindrop, and one can calculate where the higher order rainbows might be seen; but these are never seen in normal circumstances.
You may have noticed that the sky is brighter inside the rainbow above. They explain why the sky is brighter inside both single & double rainbows:
Notice the contrast between the sky inside the arc and outside it. When one studies the refraction of sunlight on a raindrop one finds that there are many rays emerging at angles smaller than the rainbow ray, but essentially no light from single internal reflections at angles greater than this ray. Thus there is a lot of light within the bow, and very little beyond it. Because this light is a mix of all the rainbow colors, it is white. In the case of the secondary rainbow, the rainbow ray is the smallest angle and there are many rays emerging at angles greater than this one. Therefore the two bows combine to define a dark region between them – called Alexander’s Dark Band, in honor of Alexander of Aphrodisias who discussed it some 1800 years ago!
Read on for much more about rainbows including supernumerary arcs, why we don’t often see rainbows in winter and even lunar rainbows! If you want to go rainbow crazy, head over to Atmospheric Optics for tons more rainbow information & photos.
See more rainbows on Michigan in Pictures. Also, I’ve added a new “science” category to Michigan in Pictures. I’ll tag past posts like the post about sundogs, rainbow-like formations you often see in winter. If anyone has a favorite, just post a comment on it mentioning that it would be a good fit for science!