Falling Skies: August is Meteor Season!

Falling Skies by Heather Higham

Falling Skies by Heather Higham

Our friends at EarthSky share that August is THE month for meteor watching, with two major showers:

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower is long and rambling. You might catch a Delta Aquariid anytime from about July 12 to August 23 each year. The nominal peak falls on or near July 29. But don’t pay too much attention to that date; the shower typically provides a decent number of meteors for some days after and before it. In 2021, a bright waning gibbous moon will wash out a good number of Delta Aquariids in late July. As we move into early August, a much fainter waning crescent moon will be less intrusive. As always happens, when the Perseid meteor shower is rising to its peak (mornings of August 11, 12 and 13), the Delta Aquariids will still be flying, too.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we rank the August Perseids as our all-time favorite meteor shower … No matter where you live worldwide, the 2021 Perseid meteor shower will probably produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. On the peak mornings in 2021 – in the early morning hours, when the most meteors will be flying – there’ll be no moon to ruin on the show.

Click those links for viewing tips & happy sky watching!

Heather took this photo back in 2016 on Loon Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. See more in her Night Skies gallery. For sure follow her on Instagram @SnapHappyMichigan & view and purchase her work on her website.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

That Michigan Vibe

Michigan Vibe by Heather Aldridge

Michigan Vibe by Heather Aldridge

Heather shares that she rode her bike to the pier in Frankfort for sunrise & was delighted with the Michigan cloud next to the bluff. That makes two of us Heather – WOW! 😍

Click the pic to view her photo on Facebook & here’s hoping you have a magical day!

Check out more Michigan amazingness on Michigan in Pictures.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Crepuscular rays over Sunday Lake

Crepuscular rays over Sunday Lake by Michigan Nut Photography

Crepuscular rays over Sunday Lake by Michigan Nut Photography

The Atmospheric Optics page on crepuscular rays says:

Sun rays, also called crepuscular rays, streaming through gaps in clouds are parallel columns of sunlit air separated by darker cloud shadowed regions.

The rays appear to diverge because of perspective effects, like the parallel furrows of freshly ploughed fields or a road wide at your feet yet apparently narrowing with distance.

Airborne dust, inorganic salts, organic aerosols, small water droplets and the air molecules themselves scatter the sunlight and make the rays visible.

John took this photo at Sunday Lake in Wakefield. Follow him on Facebook & view and purchase his work at michigannutphotography.com.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Waterfall Wednesday: Agate Falls under the Milky Way

Agate Falls under the Milky Way by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

Agate Falls under the Milky Way by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

GoWaterfalling says that Agate Falls is an impressive waterfall that’s relatively easy to get to:

Agate Falls is a Michigan State Scenic Site 6.5 miles east of Bruce Crossing on MI-28. There is a roadside park (Joseph F. Oravec roadside park) just past the bridge over the Ontonagon River. This is one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in Michigan. Unfortunately the provided trails and overlooks are somewhat limited. With some effort you can scramble down to the river to get some very good views of the falls, which seems to be popular with local fishermen, or scramble up the river banks to get to the old railroad bridge over the falls. The bridge is now part of a snowmobile trail.

Marybeth got this stunning shot last week. See lots more on her Facebook page & at shelbydiamondstar.com!

More Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

The Detroit Flood of June 2021

Detroit Flood by Camera Jesus

Detroit Flood by Camera Jesus

On Friday night as much as 7″ of rain fell in the city of Detroit creating a truly nightmarish situation as the New York Times reports:

Up to seven inches of rain fell early on Saturday in parts of Detroit and Wayne County, Mich., stranding hundreds of vehicles on flooded freeways and prompting the rescue of about 50 drivers, officials said.

“This isn’t normal here,” said Lt. Michael Shaw, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police. “Every freeway in the county had some level of flooding.”

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the authorities counted about 350 vehicles that had been damaged in the flooding.

“Some suffered some type of wire damage, some had water up to the top of their tires, some had it up to windows, and some were completely submerged,” Lieutenant Shaw said. “A lot of people thought they could make it through the water, but there was just no way.”

You can see some shots reader-submitted shots from across the city at Click on Detroit.

The photo was taken Saturday on I-94 aka the Edsel Ford Freeway by Joe Gall aka Camera Jesus. Click the pic for several more shots, follow him @camera_jesus on Instagram & for sure check out his website to view and purchase his work!

More Michigan flooding including the Detroit Flood of 2014 on Michigan in Pictures.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

La Chappelle: The incredible Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock by John Gagnon

Chapel Rock by John Gagnon

Atlas Obscura says that although there’s a whole lot to see in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, hikers should keep their eyes peeled for one feature in particular: Chapel Rock, once known as La Chappelle:

Composed of Cambrian age sandstone dating back approximately 500 million years, Chapel Rock is the result of the erosion caused by a proglacial lake somewhat confusingly referred to as “Nipissing Great Lakes.” This giant body of water consisted of separate basins joined by straits, and once occupied present-day Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Georgian Bay. Around 3,800 years ago, the high waters of Nipissing Great Lakes carved through the soft sandstone, resulting in today’s dramatic formation, which juts out into Lake Superior.

Although Chapel Rock’s stone is mostly beige, its base is a warm orange, thanks to mineral concentrations. The sandstone cliffs that comprise Pictured Rocks are full of iron, copper, manganese, and limonite, which impart red, orange, blue, green, brown, black, and white hues. Not long ago, a natural rock bridge spanned the area between Chapel Rock and the mainland. It collapsed in the 1940s, leaving the formation unconnected with the rest of the shore. Thankfully, the rest of the structure has remained intact and is protected from climbers by order of the Lakeshore Superintendent.

The rock isn’t the only thing that has proven to be remarkably durable. Charles Penny, a member of the Douglass Houghton expedition responsible for exploring Lake Superior’s southern shore, admiringly described a single pine tree that grew like a “spire” out of the sparse dirt covering the top of the outcropping. Till this day, the same resilient pine stands sentinel over Chapel Rock, connected to the mainland by its extensive root system.

More at Atlas Obscura & check out more Chapel Rock photos on Michigan in Pictures that include pictures of the pine tree’s astounding root system.

See more in John’s Pictured Rocks gallery on Flickr.

 

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

TBT: Last Week’s Eclipse

Eclipse June 10 2021 by Rod Burdick

Eclipse June 10, 2021 by Rod Burdick

Sure it’s a little early for a “Throwback Thursday” pic, but I had to share this shot from last week’s eclipse over the foggy St. Clair River.

Head over to Rod’s Flickr for many more shots of the St. Clair River & Great Lakes marine subjects!

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Scientists now know what causes the northern lights!

Thanks by Julie

Thanks by Julie

NPR reports that scientists have finally confirmed the source of the Northern Lights:

An article published in the journal Nature Communications this week suggests that the natural light show starts when disturbances on the sun pull on Earth’s magnetic field. That creates cosmic undulations known as Alfvén waves that launch electrons at high speeds into Earth’s atmosphere where they create the aurora.

“It was sort of theorized that that’s where the energy exchange is occurring,” said Gregory Howes, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa. “But no one had ever come up with a definitive demonstration that the Alfvén waves actually accelerate these electrons under the appropriate conditions that you have in space above the aurora.”

The sun is volatile, and violent events there such as geomagnetic storms can echo out into the universe. In some cases, the sun’s disturbances are so strong that they yank on the Earth’s magnetic field like a rubber band, pulling it away from our planet.

But, like a taut rubber band when it’s released, the magnetic field snaps back, and the force of that recoil creates powerful ripples known as Alfvén waves about 80,000 miles from the ground. As those waves get closer to Earth, they move even faster thanks to the planet’s magnetic pull.

…”Think about surfing,” said Jim Schroeder, an assistant physics professor at Wheaton College and the article’s lead author. “In order to surf, you need to paddle up to the right speed for an ocean wave to pick you up and accelerate you, and we found that electrons were surfing. If they were moving with the right speed relative to the wave, they would get picked up and accelerated.”

When the electrons reach Earth’s thin upper atmosphere, they collide with nitrogen and oxygen molecules, sending them into an excited state. The excited electrons eventually calm down and release light, which is what we see as the aurora.

More at NPR.

Julie took this celebratory photo back in March. See more in her massive Michigan gallery on Flickr & keep your eyes on the skies!!

More Northern Lights on Michigan in Pictures.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Get all the stars at Wilderness State Park

The Milky Way over Lake Michigan at Wilderness State Park by Diana Robinson

The Milky Way over Lake Michigan at Wilderness State Park by Diana Robinson

The Michigan DNR explains that Wilderness State Park is one of Michigan’s Dark Sky Preserves:

Michigan is lucky to play host to both dark sky preserves and parks that offer stellar celestial landscapes. These locations are specially designated because they have qualities that complement nighttime viewing, such as the ability to limit the amount of artificial light. There are also plenty of excellent night-sky viewing opportunities across more than 15,000 square miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Diana took this photo earlier in May & you can see more in her Night Photography gallery on Flickr.

More great night photography on Michigan in Pictures!

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon

Ring of Fire Eclipse on Thursday

Sunset during a partial solar eclipse by Diane

Sunset during a partial solar eclipse by Diane

The naming of astronomical events has certainly gotten cooler in recent years, and Thursday morning’s “Ring of Fire” annular eclipse certainly reflects that trend! WOOD-TV explains that on June 10th Michiganders will be able to view this year’s first solar eclipse:

Unlike a total solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, causing the sun to be completely blocked, next week’s eclipse will be annular, which only occurs when the moon is in its first phase.

The new moon will be farther from Earth in its elliptical orbit and will appear smaller — too small to cover the sun completely. As a result, a bright ring of sunlight will surround the moon’s silhouette at mid-eclipse. That bright outer rim has become known as the “ring of fire.”

“As the pair rises higher in the sky, the silhouette of the Moon will gradually shift off the sun to the lower left, allowing more of the sun to show until the eclipse ends,” NASA said.

The new moon will eclipse the sun at 6:53 a.m. ET. on June 10.

Look east to see it, but remember it’s unsafe to look directly at the sun unless you wear special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes.

More at WOOD-TV.

Diane took this photo way back in 2012. See more in her sunrise~sunset gallery on Flickr!

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon