Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

April 14, 2014

Inside the Ghost Forest

Inside the Ghost Forest, photo by jimflix!

There’s an eclipse of the full moon tonight! It begins at 2 AM Eastern time with the total eclipse lasting 78 minutes and starting about 3 AM. While the forecast is not great, it looks like there’s a chance that those brave souls who trade sleep for a shot at viewing the eclipse won’t be disappointed.

Eastern Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. EDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m. EDT

If you’re up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, they are having a star party tonight. If anyone knows of other viewing gatherings, post them in the comments! If the eclipse ends up getting clouded out locally, you can always take to the net and watch via the live stream from the Griffith Observatory. As I wrote about last week, this eclipse is the first of four total eclipses without a partial in between known as a Lunar Tetrad.

This photo is of the ghost forest on Sleeping Bear Point created when sand of the world’s largest shifting sand dune covered living trees.

View Jim’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow.

More of the moon and more dunes on Michigan in Pictures!

Hundred Mile High City by Detroit Derek

 

Hundred Mile High City, photo by Derek Farr

When I saw Derek’s photo, I remembered that I had posted a photo of the Penobscot several years ago. I found that photo has been deleted from Flickr and therefor from Michigan in Pictures as well. So here then is the definitive Penobscot post.

The Wikipedia entry on the Penobscot Building says:

Upon its completion, it was the eighth tallest building in the world and the tallest outside New York City and Chicago. Like many of the city’s other Roaring Twenties buildings, it displays Art Deco influences, including its “H” shape (designed to allow maximum sunlight into the building) and the sculptural setbacks that cause the upper floors to progressively “erode”. The building’s architect, Wirt C. Rowland, also designed such memorable Detroit skyscrapers as the Guardian Building in the same decade. At night, the building’s upper floors are dramatically lit in floodlight fashion, topped with a red sphere.

Although the Penobscot Building has more floors than Comerica Tower at Detroit Center (45 above-ground floors compared to Comerica Tower’s 43), Comerica’s floors and spires are taller, with its roof sitting roughly 60 feet taller than Penobscot’s (566′). The opulent Penobscot is one of many buildings in Detroit that features architectural sculpture by Corrado Parducci.

The Penobscot Building served as a “compass” for pilots in airplanes during its early years, due to its position of facing due north. The building also served as an inspiration of sorts for the Empire State Building in New York City, and many individuals worked on the construction of both towers.

The Penobscot Building web site says that the building serves as the fiber-optic hub for the entire Detroit area and touts it as the place for office space. You might also enjoy Historic Detroit’s page on the Penobscot Building, the Emporis page on the Penobscot and this 3D model of the Penobscot Building for Google Sketchup.

View Derek’s photo bigger and see more in his massive Detroit slideshow. He says the title of his photo came from the Ocean Colour Scene song, Hundred Mile High City.

More architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

Shadow Moon by Michael Seabrook

Shadow Moon, photo by Michael Seabrook

For as long as we know, celestial signs have been read to signify calamity and change, and apparently the total lunar eclipse in the early morning hours of April 15, 2014 that kicks off a two-year tetrad of lunar eclipses is no exception.

In What is a Blood Moon? on one of my favorite blogs, EarthSky, Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd explain (in part) a subject you might be hearing about this week:

We’ve been receiving a number of inquiries about Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015. The Blood Moons most people are asking about are not part of astronomy. Their origin is religious, at least according to Christian pastor John Hagee, who wrote a 2013 book about Blood Moons. However, both astronomers and some proponents of Christian prophesy are talking about the upcoming lunar tetrad – a series of total lunar eclipses – which begins on the night of April 14-15, 2014. We at EarthSky don’t have any special knowledge about the purported Blood Moons of Biblical prophesy. But, since they’re moons, and since people are asking us, we wanted to reply.

The full moon nearly always appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse. That’s because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse. Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses…

Both astronomers and followers of certain Christian pastors are talking about the lunar tetrad of 2014-2015. What is a tetrad? It’s four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons)

We’re not experts on prophecy of any kind. But we’ll tell you what we know about the new definition for Blood Moon that has raised so many questions recently.

From what we’ve been able to gather, two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, use the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015. John Hagee appears to have popularized the term in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.

As if we didn’t have enough to look forward to on April 15th! Read on for lots more. The four eclipses are this one, October 8 2014 and April 4 & September 28, 2015. Here’s the eclipse viewing times for Michigan – times for other time zones can be found on EarthSky.

The April 15th eclipse begins at 2 AM Eastern time when the edge of the moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow. Totality occurs during a 78 minute interval beginning around 3 o’clock in the morning on the east coast, midnight on the west coast. Weather permitting, the red moon will be easy to see across the entirety of North America.

Eastern Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. EDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m. EDT

Michael took this photo of the lunar eclipse on February 20, 2008. View it bigger and see more in his The Moon slideshow.

More of the moon on Michigan in Pictures!

Frigid Auroras Over Superior

Frigid Auroras Over Superior, photo by Michigan Nature Photog

NOAA’s current space weather forecast reports an M Class (moderate) solar flare from solar region AR2002. Spaceweather.com adds that AR2002 has destabilized its magnetic field, making it more likely to erupt, and that NOAA forecasters are estimating a 60% chance of M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-class flares during the next 24 hours. X-class flares are major solar events that can spawn incredible auroras visible far to the south of us, planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. Click to Space Weather for a video of AR2002 development.

While there’s not much chance of a major event, I thought it was interesting that 25 years ago this week,  one of the most significant solar storms in memory created a spectacle in the skies as it demonstrated the power and danger of solar weather to modern society. A Conflagration of Storms begins:

On Thursday, March 9, 1989 astronomers at the Kitt Peak Solar Observatory spotted a major solar flare in progress. Eight minutes later, the Earth’s outer atmosphere was struck by a wave of powerful ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. Then the next day, an even more powerful eruption launched a cloud of gas 36 times the size of the from Active Region 5395 nearly dead center on the Sun. The storm cloud rushed out from the Sun at a million miles an hour, and on the evening of Monday, March 13 it struck the Earth. Alaskan and Scandinavian observers were treated to a spectacular auroral display that night. Intense colors from the rare Great Aurora painted the skies around the world in vivid shapes that moved like legendary dragons. Ghostly celestial armies battled from sunset to midnight. Newspapers that reported this event considered the aurora, itself, to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle. Some even worried that a nuclear first-strike might be in progress.

…Millions marveled at the beautiful celestial spectacle, and solar physicists delighted in the new data it brought to them, but many more were not so happy about it.

Silently, the storm had impacted the magnetic field of the Earth and caused a powerful jet stream of current to flow 1000 miles above the ground. Like a drunken serpent, its coils gyrated and swooped downwards in latitude, deep into North America. As midnight came and went, invisible electromagnetic forces were staging their own pitched battle in a vast arena bounded by the sky above and the rocky subterranean reaches of the Earth. A river of charged particles and electrons in the ionosphere flowed from west to east, inducing powerful electrical currents in the ground that surged into many natural nooks and crannies. There, beneath the surface, natural rock resistance murdered them quietly in the night. Nature has its own effective defenses for these currents, but human technology was not so fortunate on this particular night. The currents eventually found harbor in the electrical systems of Great Britain, the United States and Canada.

You can read on for more about how the storm spawned a power outage in Quebec and pushed US systems to the brink of collapse. If you want to totally geek out on auroral science, check this article out about how the Earth’s magnetosphere actually extends itself to block solar storms.

Greg took this shot in late February in Marquette in -17 temps! View his photo bigger and see more in his northern lights slideshow. You can purchase Greg’s pics at MichiganNaturePhotos.com.

There’s more science and much (much) more about the Northern Lights and Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.

Silver Lake in Black & White

February 25, 2014

Silver Lake

Silver Lake, photo by Jeff Gaydash

View Jeff’s photo bigger, see more in his black & white slideshow and definitely check out more photos from Jeff on Michigan in Pictures.

More black & white photography on Michigan in Pictures.

Snowblind

February 20, 2014

Snowblind...

Snowblind…, photo by Photography by Kenneh

I’m tempted to visualize this plane as leaving for someplace warm.

View Kenneth’s photo bigger and see more in his Sunrises & Sunsets slideshow.

October Auroras by Shawn Malone

October Auroras by Shawn Malone/Lake Superior Photo

Just in! Shawn told me she just got in from shooting the northern lights last night – check her photo out right here and stay tuned to her Facebook for updates!

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center reported this morning:

Earth is currently under the influence of a coronal mass ejection (CME) and G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storming has been observed. This is likely the result of what was expected to be a near miss from an event originally observed on the 14th. This CME has a fairly well-organized magnetic field structure so continued G1 (Minor) to G2 (Moderate) storming is certainly possible. Stay tuned for updates as this event unfolds.

The Aurora Borealis was out last night, and I thought it a good time to share Shawn Malone’s Insider Secrets for Northern Lights that she wrote for the Pure Michigan Blog a couple of months ago:

Michigan has a lot of things going for it when it comes to northern lights viewing, the most important being 1). latitude  and 2). relatively low light pollution in many areas.  Northern Michigan sits in a great location latitude-wise, as the auroral oval dips further south on nights of stronger auroral activity.  The Upper Peninsula  is blessed with hundreds of miles of shoreline along the south shore of Lake Superior, which provides some of the best northern lights viewing in the lower 48 due to the very dark night skies.  When looking north over Lake Superior, one can see right down to the horizon and take in a 180 degree unobstructed view of the night sky.  Getting to a location without the obstruction of a treeline or hills is important at our latitude, as many times an auroral display will sit very low on the horizon. Having a dark night sky with little light pollution is necessary when looking for the northern lights, as the light of the aurora is equal to the brightness of starlight.

People often ask me how I’ve been able to see so many northern lights displays over the years and a lot of it has to do with what I mentioned above. I live in Marquette, Michigan which sits centered on the south shore of Lake Superior, and when looking north there’s nothing but lake for hundreds of miles. Marquette and locations nearby have many areas along the lakeshore still publicly accessible, allowing for the opportunity to view the aurora right from the shoreline.

If you’ve never seen the northern lights and want to maximize your opportunity to do so, learn and pay attention to sunspot activity, as that’s what drives the northern lights.

Read on for tips on where to catch these lights, some more photos from Shawn and her incredible, Smithsonian award-winning video Radiance.

View Shawn’s photo bigger on Facebook, follow her Lake Superior Photo page and if you get up to Marquette, check out the Lake Superior Photo Gallery on Front St in downtown Marquette!

Michigan in Pictures has a TON of Northern Lights information & photos that includes the science and stories of this incredible phenomenon.

Breakfast with Big Boy

January 11, 2014

Big Boy

Big Boy, photo by Mark Houston Photography

The Big Boy entry on Wikipedia says that Elias Brothers Big Boy franchise was founded by Fred, John and Louis Elias and covered Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, Ontario, Canada from 1952–2000:

In 1938 the brothers opened Fred’s Chili Bowl in Detroit and later the Dixie Drive-In in Hazel Park, which would become the first Elias Brothers Big Boy. Considered the “first official franchisee” because they were the first to formally apply to Bob Wian. They worked with Wian, Schoenbaum and Manfred Bernhard to create the iconic 1956 Big Boy character design and launch the comic book. Owned the Big Boy parent from 1987 through 2000. Many units continue operations but none use Elias Brothers name. Fred Elias became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors.

One of the all-time most popular posts on Michigan in Pictures is the Big Boy Graveyard, so you might want to check that out too.

Check Mark’s photo out bigger and see more in his slideshow. Mark also operates the awesome website 360Michigan that features panoramic photos of Michigan. He’s got the Belle Isle Aquarium on the front page and a whole lot more in his Michigan section.

meteor and milky way

meteor and milky way, photo by HLHigham

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014 says that:

Although the Quadrantids can produce over 100 meteors per hour, the sharp peak of this shower tends to last only a few hours, and doesn’t always come at an opportune time. In other words, you have to be in the right spot on Earth to view this meteor shower in all its splendor. The radiant point is in the part of the sky that used to be considered the constellation Quadrans Muralis the Mural Quadrant. You’ll find this radiant near the famous Big Dipper asterism (chart here), in the north-northeastern sky after midnight and highest up before dawn.

Because the radiant is fairly far to the north on the sky’s dome, meteor numbers will be greater in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, watch in the wee hours – after midnight and before dawn – on January 3 in North America and January 4 in Asia. Fortunately, the waxing crescent moon sets soon after sunset, providing a dark sky for meteor watching.

Click through for more and a calendar of 2014 meteor showers. The next shower isn’t until the Lyrids on April 22nd so check them out tonight and early AM on the 4th if you can! You can get viewing tips for the Quads from Universe today too!

View Heather’s photo big as the sky and in her Night Sky slideshow.

Stand up tall and vote

November 5, 2013

VOTE!

VOTE!, photo by ktpupp

This is a frightening statistic. More people vote in ‘American Idol’ than in any US election.
~Rush Limbaugh

You’ll become a statistic whatever you do today. Here’s hoping you become one of the statistics who took a little time to make decisions about your community.

Check K.T.’s photo out background big and see more in her slideshow.

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