March 28, 2015
It’s 8 degrees right now in Traverse City, and while the weeklong run of wintry weather hasn’t been good for such popular pursuits as getting the garden ready, boxing up winter clothes and keeping your house from being declared a Cabin Fever Disaster Area, it has left the ice in many parts of the state just perfect for the sport of ice boating.
Northern Michigan AP News photographer John Russell is a Michigan in Pictures contributor and wrote Ice Boating: An Ancient Sport in a Modern World a few years ago. It begins:
Sailing on frozen surfaces is believed to have its roots in Northern Europe, where goods and people moved around the region on frozen rivers and canals, using simple sails and handmade boats.
The Dutch and others brought iceboating to the Hudson River valley and other places along the East Coast, where miles of frozen rivers made for great sailing during the winter months. Freight and people were commonly moved up and down the Hudson River in huge, slooped-rigged boats.
Ranging in length from 30 – 50 feet, the stern-steering boats are still raced today by the Northwest Ice Yacht Association, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The ancient sport of sailing on frozen lakes and rivers is alive and well in our state, which has a long and involved history in the sport. Innovations developed in Michigan have enhanced and improved iceboating.
During the winter of 1936-1937, in the hobby shop at the Detroit News, boat builder Archie Arroll, along with Norm Jarrait and Joe Lodge, designed an ice boat they called the Blue Streak 60. Designed to be small enough to build in a garage, and easy enough to be built by anyone, the 12-foot hull design became known as the DN 60, for Detroit News and the 60-square-foot sail.
It is now the largest one-design boat class in the world, with over 8,000 registered boats around the world.
Read on for more including our state’s role in international ice boat racing, some state clubs, safety tips and a couple of photos from John.
More Michigan iceboating on Michigan in Pictures!
March 13, 2015
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.
~Dr. Sten Odenwald
I like to revisit this March 13, 1989 incident documented by Dr. Odenwald in A Conflagration of Storms. In addition to being an amazing display of the aurora borealis, this solar storm took down Quebec’s power network and very nearly much more:
In many ways, the Quebec blackout was a sanitized calamity. It was wrapped in a diversion of beautiful colors, and affected a distant population mostly while they slept. There were no houses torn asunder, or streets flooded in the manner of a hurricane or tornado. There was no dramatic footage of waves crashing against the beach. There were no cyclonic whirlwinds cutting a swath of destruction through Kansas trailer parks. The calamity passed without mention in the major metropolitan newspapers, yet six million people were affected as they woke to find no electricity to see them through a cold Quebec wintry night. Engineers from the major North American power companies were not so blasé about what some would later conclude, could easily have escalated into a $6 billion catastrophe affecting most U.S. East Coast cities. All that prevented 50 million more people in the U.S. from joining their Canadian friends in the dark were a dozen or so heroic capacitors on the Allegheny Power Network.
The Media seemed to have missed one of the most human impacts of the beautiful aurora they so meticulously described in article after article. Today the March 1989 ‘Quebec Blackout’ has reached legendary stature, at least among electrical engineers and space scientists, as an example of how solar storms can adversely affect us. It has even begun to appear in science textbooks. Fortunately, storms as powerful as this really are rather rare. It takes quite a solar wallop to cause anything like the conditions leading up to a Quebec-style blackout. When might we expect the next one to happen? About once every ten years or so, but the exact time is largely a game of chance.
Call it the ultimate Friday the 13th! The whole book The 23rd Cycle:Learning to live with a stormy star is available online, and you can read a lot more from Dr. Odenwald at his website, The Astronomy Cafe or at facebook.com/AstronomyCafe.
A whole lot more northern lights on Michigan in Pictures!
PS: Keep an eye on solar storminess and get heads up notifications when the northern lights might be visible at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
January 30, 2015
Who’s ready for a break from snow & ice? The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on the North Bar Lake Overlook says (in part):
The name describes how the lake formed: it is ponded behind a sand bar. At times, the sand bar builds up and separates North Bar Lake from Lake Michigan. At other times, a small connecting channel exists between the two lakes. North Bar Lake occupies part of a former bay on Lake Michigan. This ancient bay was flanked by headlands on both sides: Empire Bluffs on the south and Sleeping Bear Bluffs on the north. Shorelines have a natural tendency to become straighter with time. Wave action focuses on the headlands and wears them back, while shoreline currents carry sediment to the quiet bays and fill them in. Deeper parts of the bay are often left as lakes when sand fills in the shallower parts.
The same process that formed North Bar Lake also formed many of the other lakes in northern Michigan: Glen, Crystal, Elk and Torch Lakes, for example.
Here’s more about the geology of the Sleeping Bear and more about North Bar Lake, to which I’d add that the lake is a great place for skim boards because the channel between North Bar & Lake Michigan is only a few inches deep!
PS: If you’re still not full-up on winter and ice, might I suggest this pic she took in this area of Sleeping Bear last week!
December 12, 2014
As you’re making plans for this weekend, consider including some offbeat nightlife. EarthSky has everything you need to know about this weekends Geminid Meteor Shower:
The peak night of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower will probably occur on the night of December 13 (morning of December 14). The night before (December 12-13) may offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. Geminid meteors tend to be few and far between at early evening, but intensify in number as evening deepens into late night. A last quarter moon will rise around midnight, but Geminid meteors are bright! This shower favors Earth’s Northern Hemisphere.
…In a year when moonlight doesn’t obscure the view, you can easily see 50 or more Geminid meteors per hour on the peak night. However, in 2014, the waning moon will dampen the display in the peak viewing hours. Don’t let the moonlight discourage you. A good percentage of these yellow-colored Geminid meteors are quite bright and will overcome the moonlit skies.
The moon will rise quite late on December 13 and 14, creating a window of darkness for watching the Geminid shower in the evening. Keep in mind that the moon will rise about an hour earlier on December 13 than it will on December 14. Click here for custom sunrise/set calendar. Check boxes for moonrise/set times..
Even as the moon rises, however, it will be sitting low in the east. If possible, find a hedgerow of trees, a barn or some such thing to block out the moon. Sit in a moon shadow but at the same time, find an expansive view of sky. Or simply look away from the moon.
Read on for all kinds of viewing tips and all kinds of info about about this December meteor shower including the chance of seeing an earthgrazer meteor, a slow-moving, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky.
More meteors on Michigan in Pictures!
November 24, 2014
November 15, 2014
Aubrieta Hope shared this feature from the Pure Michigan blog about six photographers chasing UP fall color that includes three Michigan in Pictures regulars – Neil Weaver, Craig Sterkin & John McCormick. It begins:
Once upon a time, six shooters ventured north to the Tripod Forest, a fabled land of brilliant fall color in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. All were packing: most brought Nikon’s, but two carried Canons. They loaded up minivans, SUV’s and 4×4′s, bringing filters and flashlights, bug spray, raingear, ice scrapers, and backpacks. About half of them planned to find a campsite someplace and the others made hotel reservations. Some had never met, but were destined to. A few of them hoped to cross paths up there somewhere.
It was late September and their only plan was to find and follow the color. Frost was in the forecast. The time was now. The 2014 Michigan Fall Foliage Convention had begun!
Click for more including photos of these folks in action!
View Aubrieta’s photo bigger at the Pure Michigan Blog and see her photography at michiganscenery.com. You can also check out the other photographers at Neil Weaver Photography, John McCormick’s Michigan Nut Photography, Craig Sterken Photography, Phil Stagg’s MI Falls and Kenneth Keifer Photography.
October 21, 2014
Wikipedia says that Portage Lake is part of the Keweenaw Waterway, a partly natural, partly artificial waterway that cuts across the Keweenaw Peninsula to provide access for shipping from Lake Superior. If you click the link you can get an aerial view.
Saw the fog on Lake Portage from my apartment window after I woke up today. I knew the potential this fog can bring so I darted down to the lake shore. But the fog was so heavy that the foliage on the other bank were completely blocked. Just when I was about to give up and head back for school, the fog started to break as the sun rises. And then the magic started to unfold before my eyes. Soon the fog lifted and fill the campus uphill, the entire campus was bathed in soft morning light and there were Tyndall effect everywhere! I can not think of a better way to start a day of work.
What’s the Tyndall effect you ask? The UC Davis ChemWiki explains that the Tyndall effect was identified by 19th Century Irish scientist John Tyndall.
Because a colloidal solution or substance (like fog) is made up of scattered particles (like dust and water in air), light cannot travel straight through. Rather, it collides with these micro-particles and scatters causing the effect of a visible light beam. This effect was observed and described by John Tyndall as the Tyndall Effect.
The Tyndall effect is an easy way of determining whether a mixture is colloidal or not. When light is shined through a true solution, the light passes cleanly through the solution, however when light is passed through a colloidal solution, the substance in the dispersed phases scatters the light in all directions, making it readily seen.
For example, light is not reflected when passing through water because it is not a colloid. It is however reflected in all directions when it passes through milk, which is colloidal. A second example is shining a flashlight into fog or smog; the beam of light can be easily seen because the fog is a colloid.