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. 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

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

Early One February Morning (2)

Early One February Morning (2), photo by siskokid

Jim caught a gorgeous sunrise last February on the shore of Lake Superior at Little Girl’s Point. The article Legendary Little Girl’s Point from the Ironwood Daily Globe says it is located about 21 miles north of Ironwood and was used by the Chippewas for fishing, hunting and a camping place during trips to the Porcupine Mountains. As to the name:

According to Burnham, Mary Amoose (Little Bee), an unusually intelligent Chippewa woman of Bad River, told Burnham the story of the lost girl of Little Girl’s Point as she had often heard it told by her grandmother more than a half century ago.

She told Burham how a party of hunters returning from a trip to the Crouching Porcupine rounding the point of land now known as Little Girl’s Point, thought they saw the form of a girl among the trees. She was clad in green. The hunters, thinking that it was some girl that had become lost, beached their canoes, but on climbing the steep shore, only caught one or two glimpses of the green girl, who glided further back among the stately pines, and vanished.

Burham said he was interested in this story for it gave the name to Little Girl’s Point, and it was told to him by this Chippewa woman, much as it had been told to Henry R. Schoolcraft, the historian, and discoverer of the source of the Mississippi River. Burnham said the story was told to Schoolcraft by his half-breed wife, Julia (Jane) Johnson, granddaughter of the great chief Waubojeeg, who lived on the mainland near where Bayfield now stands.

I can’t tell if the “unusually intelligent” is sexist or racist, but there is a lot of interesting historical information to be found if you read on. The article is housed on the Gogebic Range City Directories which looks to be a treasure trove of historical information about the region that includes Michigan’s northwestern corner and Wisconsin’s northeastern.

Check it out bigger and see more in Jim’s Little Girl’s Point slideshow.

There’s more history (and more ice) on Michigan in Pictures.


December 14, 2013

Good Morning Brockway

Good Morning Brockway, photo by Jiqing Fan

Today’s post might win the 2013 Incomprehensible Garbledegook Award…

Almost all of the photos on Michigan in Pictures are those added to the Absolute Michigan pool on the excellent photo sharing site Flickr, with occasional photo posted to the Michigan in Pictures Facebook mixed in. While that’s very convenient for me, there’s a whole  lot of great photos on Twitter and Instagram too.

If you’re interested in sharing your photos and aren’t into Flickr, please feel free to use the “michpics” hash tag: #michpics on Twitter and #michpics on Instagram. If your photo is in some other place, you can tweet it with that hash tag.

Thanks everyone for sharing and I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of Michigan’s beauty this weekend!

Jiqing Fan took some amazing photos this fall. View his shot from Brockaway Mountain on the Keweenaw Peninsula bigger and see more in his slideshow. Past features of Jiqing Fan on Michigan in Pictures.

First light

First light, photo by adonyvan

About a month ago, Jiqing Fan spent the night at Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountain State Park. I featured one of his photos then but I figured after Sunday’s ripping storm, we all deserved a glorious sunrise to start the week!

Check it out bigger and see more in his Houghton & UP MI slideshow.

More sunrises on Michigan in Pictures.

A Lake, a Lady and a Legend

November 8, 2013

Sky and Fanny Hooe

Sky and Fanny Hooe photo by dcclark

Lake Fanny Hooe is located in Fort Wilkins State Park on the Keweenaw Peninsula near Copper Harbor. A great article from Marquette Monthly about the hard life of UP women back in the day tells about how the legend of the lake turns out to be a lot more dramatic than the reality:

Local tales related that the beautiful young woman had drowned in the lake, or got lost in the woods while picking blueberries and was never seen again. In truth, Lucy Frances Fitzhigh Hooe, Fannie, spent the summer of 1844 visiting her brother Thornton, who was stationed at Fort Wilkins. Her sister, Richardetta was the wife of Lt. Daniel Ruggles, also stationed there. At the end of the summer, she returned to the family home in Virginia. She then married Chester Bailey White in 1849, and had three children. While she led an interesting life, her visit to Fort Wilkins was not a major part of it. She died in 1882, probably in Fredericksburg, (Virginia).

Read on for lots more!

Dave took this photo from Brockway Mountain Drive, looking towards Copper Harbor and Fanny Hooe. See it bigger and see more in his Copper Country slideshow.

land of the lost

land of the lost, photo by Marty Hogan

The Keweenaw Historical Society page on Central Mine and Village explains:

One of the most noteworthy historical sites in Keweenaw County is Central, or Central Mine, a village that once was the home for over 1,200 people, and the site of one Keweenaw’s most successful mines. The mine, opened in 1854, produced nearly 52 million pounds of copper by the time it closed in 1898.

Several miners’ homes and buildings still stand on the site. In 1996, the Keweenaw County Historical Society acquired 38 acres of the old Central site. Some of the residences are being restored, and a Visitors Center provides interpretive exhibits not only about the mine but also about the miners’ families, homes, schools and churches.

Click through for maps, photos and more information about Central and other sites.

Marty took this photo in Engine House No.2 at the Central Mining Company in Central, Michigan. He says that from 1875-1898, it housed the Steam Hoist for Shaft No.2. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in his Central, Michigan slideshow.

There’s a whole lot more from Marty and his travels to some of Michigan’s coolest places that once were on Michigan in Pictures!


Set your course for Fall

September 13, 2013

Autumn Day at Lake of the Clouds

Autumn Day at Lake of the Clouds, photo by John McCormick/Michigan Nut Photography

John McCormick comments that it won’t be long and we will be seeing scenes like this one again. With a north wind blowing and highs not expected to reach 60 today in Michigan’s northern half, it’s pretty clear that fall and fall color is right around the corner! I hope you get the time to plan a color tour or two to enjoy places like the Lake of the Clouds. Michigan is especially amazing when the hardwoods catch fire, and the show only comes once a year

John is one of my favorite photographers, and his Michigan Nut Facebook page is on fire right now with new photos every day!

Load up with Fall colorFall wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Manabezo Falls.

Manabezo Falls., photo by one lost backpacker

The stories of the people native to Michigan are among my favorite. One reason is for the pervasive humor that enriches them. Manabozho was definitely a trickster, one of four divine brothers in Algonquin tales. Via the Literature Network, here’s Manabozho and His Toe:

Manabozho was so powerful that he began to think there was nothing he could not do. Very wonderful were many of his feats, and he grew more conceited day by day. Now it chanced that one day he was walking about amusing himself by exercising his extraordinary powers, and at length he came to an encampment where one of the first things he noticed was a child lying in the sunshine, curled up with its toe in its mouth.

Manabozho looked at the child for some time, and wondered at its extraordinary posture.

“I have never seen a child before lie like that,” said he to himself, “but I could lie like it.”

So saying, he put himself down beside the child, and, taking his right foot in his hand, drew it towards his mouth. When he had brought it as near as he could it was yet a considerable distance away from his lips.

“I will try the left foot,” said Manabozho. He did so and found that he was no better off, neither of his feet could he get to his mouth. He curled and twisted, and bent his large limbs, and gnashed his teeth in rage to find that he could not get his toe to his mouth. All, however, was vain.

At length he rose, worn out with his exertions and passion, and walked slowly away in a very ill humour, which was not lessened by the sound of the child’s laughter, for Manabozho’s efforts had awakened it.

“Ah, ah!” said Manabozho, “shall I be mocked by a child?”

He did not, however, revenge himself on his victor, but on his way homeward, meeting a boy who did not treat him with proper respect, he transformed him into a cedar-tree.

“At least,” said Manabozho, “I can do something.”

If you’d like more of Manabohzo, check out Manabohzo and the Ultimate Fish Story which might make you a bit more kindly disposed to seagulls.

Check out Randy’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his amazing Michigan Upepr Peninsula 2013 slideshow.

More about Manabezho Falls on Michigan in Pictures.

Perseids & the Milky Way

Perseids & the Milky Way, photo by gkretovic’s Meteor Shower Guide explains:

The Perseid meteor shower is perhaps the most beloved meteor shower of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. The shower builds gradually to a peak, often produces 50 to 100 meteors per hour in a dark sky at the peak, and, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, this shower comes when the weather is warm. The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. They radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, but, as with all meteor shower radiant points, you don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower; instead, the meteors appear in all parts of the sky. They are typically fast and bright meteors. They frequently leave persistent trains.

Every year, you can look for the Perseids around August 10-13. They combine with the Delta Aquarid shower to produce the year’s most dazzling display of shooting stars. In 2013, the Perseid meteors will streak across the short summer nights – August 10-13 – from late night until dawn, with little to no interference from the waxing crescent moon. Plus the moon will be near the planet Saturn in the evening hours, giving a colorful prelude to late-night Perseid show. Best mornings to look: August 11, 12 and 13.

Check out Everything you need to know about the Perseid Meteor Shower on EarthSky and also don’t  miss Star Trails, the Perseid Meteor Shower and the Tears of St. Lawrence in the Michigan in Pictures archives!

Greg took this shot in the UP – I’m thinking that’s the Nahma Burner on Big Bay de Noc at the right. Check it out bigger and see more in his stunning Upper Peninsula of Michigan slideshow.

More meteors on Michigan in Pictures.

Grand Island's North Shore

Grand Island’s North Shore, photo by Rudy Malmquist

Whereas Pictured Rocks Day is this Saturday and whereas this blog loves the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I’ve decided to dedicate the week to posting about one of my favorite areas of Michigan. ;)

Wikipedia explains that the Grand Island National Recreation Area is part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The 13,500-acre island is about 8 miles long and is located about a mile off the Lake Superior shore at Munising. Congress made the island a National Recreation Area in 1990 after the U.S. Forest Service purchased it from the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co.

Grand Island’s geology is an extension of the sandstone strata of the adjacent Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Island sandstone cliffs as tall as 300 feet (91 m) in height plunge down into the lake. A 23-mile (37 km) perimeter trail skirts much of the island’s shoreline.

Native Americans quickly found the fisheries around Grand Island to be a resource for seasonal and year-round living. Artifacts from as early as 3300 years before the present (1300 BCE) have been found.

Grand Island National Recreation Area is served during summer months by a tourist ferry and island tour bus. The ferry ride, which is less than 1 mile (1.6 km) long, shuttles between a dock on M-28, northwest of Munising, and Grand Island’s Williams Landing. Ticket fees and an admission fee to the island are charged. During the summer months, the ferry makes several trips to the island each day.

Also see the Forest Service site for Grand Island, a Google Map of the island and the Grand Island Ferry Service which has all kinds of recreation information including the fact that the island has bike-friendly roads & trails! Here’s a video of that gives a taste of biking there, and definitely check out frequent michpics photographer Nina Asunto’s blogs about Grand Island for an in-depth look at this island.

I’m pretty confident that the biking drew Rudy to the island. Get the photo big as Superior and see more work from Rudy in his slideshow.

See the Grand Island North Lighthouse, the Grand Island East Channel Light and more Michigan islands on Michigan in Pictures.


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