Just love this photo from Thomas – see more in his April 21 gallery on Flickr!
This spring has been big for fans of the aurora borealis. Shelby took created this photo of five, 1-min tracked shots blended with an untracked foreground shot the night of March 13/14th in Copper Harbor. It shows a phenomenon I’d never heard of, a Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement aka STEVE about which Space.com says (in part):
A typical aurora — sometimes called the northern lights or the southern lights, depending on the hemisphere in which it’s located — occurs when charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s oxygen and nitrogen molecules. This interaction excites the molecules and causes them to glow.
But STEVE, formally known as Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, is different. In the Northern Hemisphere, the phenomenon is visible from areas farther south than a typical aurora, and it looks like a ribbon of pink or mauve light. Sometimes, STEVE even has a “picket fence” appearance, with green columns of light passing through the ribbon. Auroras, by contrast, usually are shimmering green ribbons.
…The new study examined satellite data gathered above STEVE events in April 2008 and May 2016. The measurements included information about Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields in the magnetosphere, the region of Earth’s atmosphere where the planet’s magnetic field is stronger than any influence coming from the sun. Then, scientists compared the satellites’ findings with amateur photos of STEVE taken from the ground at the same time.
When STEVE was on display, the study authors realized, energetic electrons were pouring into Earth’s ionosphere, the layer of the planet’s atmosphere where atoms lose electrons due to solar and cosmic radiation. The friction that flood creates heats particles, which creates the pinkish glow, almost like an incandescent light bulb.
Satellite information further revealed how the “picket fence” aspect of STEVE develops. The data revealed waves moving from Earth’s magnetosphere to the ionosphere. In this region, the waves can both energize electrons and move them out of the magnetosphere, creating the picket-fence appearance, which happens simultaneously in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Lots more at Space.com.
Lots more northern lights on Michigan in Pictures!
Depending on who you ask, there’s as few as four Great Lakes because Michigan & Huron are sort of the same lake, and as many as six if you include Lake St. Clair. Whatever the case, we’ll allow it for the purposes of this photo of the blue waters of St. Clair. Have a great weekend & see more in Emanuel’s Michigan gallery on Flickr!
Science News has an excellent story by Ken Crowswell on the Geminid Meteor Shower which peaks this Sunday night (December 13) when:
…countless meteors will shoot across the sky as space particles burn up in our atmosphere and meet a fiery end. Most meteor showers occur when Earth slams into debris left behind by a comet. But not this meteor shower, which is likely to be the most spectacular of the year. Known as the Geminid shower, it strikes every December and arises not from a flamboyant comet but from an ordinary asteroid — the first, but not the last, linked to a meteor shower.
…Unlike the Perseid meteors, which people have been observing for nearly 2,000 years, the Geminids are relatively new. First reports of their existence came from England and the United States in 1862. The shower in those days was weak, producing at most only one or two dozen meteors an hour. During the 20th century, however, the shower strengthened. Nowadays, at the shower’s peak, a single observer under a dark sky can see more than 100 meteors an hour. That’s better than most Perseid performances.
A heat-seeking spacecraft named the Infrared Astronomical Satellite discovered a small asteroid & Harvard astronomer Fred Whipple noticed it followed the same path around the sun as the particles in the Geminid meteoroid stream:
The newfound asteroid, Whipple declared, must be their long-sought source. The find also explained why the meteoroids were so dense: They come from a space rock rather than an icy comet.
The asteroid revolves around the sun every 1.43 years and comes very close to the sun, cutting well inside the orbit of Mercury, the innermost planet. Astronomers therefore christened the asteroid Phaethon, a son of Helios the sun god in Greek mythology. At its farthest, Phaethon ventures beyond the orbit of Mars and reaches the asteroid belt, home of the largest space rocks, between the paths of Mars and Jupiter.
There’s so much more right here – a truly excellent article if you have the time!
I’ve featured this photo Ken took in December of 2012 before – he’s one of the best for night sky pics! As we’re heading into the holidays, definitely consider one of Ken’s Leelanau calendars – they’re fantastic! Follow Ken on Facebook for the latest & see more in his massive Skies Above gallery on Flickr.
Although like many in Michigan I have a light dusting of snow here in Detroit this morning, I’m not quite ready to surrender to winter.
TP writes that he captured this shot of the morning scene on Ellsworth Lake in northern Michigan as the waters stood still at sunrise. The mist hovered over the water as the autumn colors and reflections popped out. See more in his Michigan Autumn Colors gallery on Flickr!
“When you fall asleep tonight just remember that we lay under the same stars.”
C-Net’s report on how to see the annual Orionid Meteor Shower says that:
The Orionids are considered a major meteor shower based on the amount of visible meteors that can be seen racing toward inevitable doom during its active period, which runs roughly from the first week of October to the first week of November.
The show is already active and the American Meteor Society forecasts that a handful of meteors per hour may be visible over the next several days, leading up to the peak on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, when the number could increase to 20 per hour.
The Orionids are really just bits of dust and debris left behind from famed Comet Halley on its previous trips through the inner solar system. As our planet drifts through the cloud of comet detritus each year around this time, all that cosmic gravel and grime slams into our upper atmosphere and burns up in a display we see on the ground as shooting stars and even the occasional fireball.
Here’s another gorgeous photo & thought from Beth. See more in her Explore gallery on Flickr!
Here’s sort of a Throwback Thursday … to a month and a half ago at least. Wikipedia’s entry for Lake Michigamme says that it is:
…one of Michigan’s largest lakes and reaches a depth of over 70 feet. It covers 4,292 acres in Marquette and Baraga counties, Michigan. Van Riper State Park provides public access. The vast majority of the lake lies in Marquette County, with only its westernmost part extending into Baraga County.
The lake runs about six miles east to west, with a southern arm extending about another four miles. A dam separates the Michigamme River from the main body of the lake at the end of the southern arm. The Spurr River flows into the lake’s west end and the Peshekee River flows into the lake in the northeast. Van Riper State Park and Van Riper beach are located at the eastern shoreline of the main arm. The lake is speckled with many islands and rock beds that often creep over the waterline in late summer and fall.
Gary took this toward the end of August. See more in his 2020 gallery on Flickr.
…was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The wild land that today is the refuge has not always appeared so wild. This is a land that was once heavily logged, burned, ditched, drained and cultivated. Despite repeated attempts, the soils and harsh conditions of this country would not provide a hospitable environment for sustained settlement and agriculture. So, nature claimed it once again. What was viewed as a loss by early 20th century entrepreneurs became a huge gain for the wildlife, natural resources and the people of Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The 95,238 acre refuge encompasses the 25,150 acre Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark.