Sometimes the stars align…

Sometimes the the stars align Frankfort Lighthouse

Sometimes the stars align…, photo by Snap Happy Gal Photography

What can you say about an astonishing photo like this? Heather writes:

I went to Frankfort a couple nights ago to shoot the Milky Way at the lighthouse. As I walked out the long pier in the darkness, I passed two groups of swimmers heading home (at 11:30), and then had the entire thing to myself for over an hour. Just enough haze hung in the air to create the light rays from the lighthouse, and the waves splashed just high enough to douse the outside edge of the wall. The setting crescent moon balancing out the south breakwall light was a nice bonus.

View the photo bigger, view & purchase photos at snaphappygal.com, and be sure to follow Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook!

UPDATE: Here’s a link to purchase this photo!

More about the Frankfort North Breakwater Light including another nighttime shot by Heather on Michigan in Pictures.

North Manitou Shoal Light and 3 other Michigan lighthouses for sale

via leelanau.com

Tales of the Crib - North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse

Tales of the Crib, photo by Jim

“To pass time, the men watched television, read books and magazines, played board games, and chatted with passing ship captains by radio. One coastguardsman perfected his rappelling skills by using ropes to descend from the gallery outside the lantern room to the concrete deck below.”
~Life on North Manitou Shoal

The last Coast Guard crew left the North Manitou Shoal Light in 1980. It’s located 8 miles off the the Lake Michigan shore from Leland, and growing up I could hear the station’s fog horn from my bedroom. When I was a kid, my parents and their friends would take steaks and beer out to the light and have dinner with the guardsmen.

Now mLive reports that the light is one of four Michigan lighthouses are up for sale to the public: North Manitou Shoal Light, White Shoal Lighthouse, Gray’s Reef Light, and Minneapolis Shoal Light. The auction page explains that proceeds from the public sales go back into the US Coast Guard’s aid to navigation fund for equipment, maintenance, and resources to continue preservation and maintenance of lighthouses that are still active.  On Tuesday, August 30, registered bidders who have paid the $10K deposit can tour the light along with their contractor and they haven’t yet set a closing date for the auction.

Lighthouse Friends notes that the North Manitou Shoal Light was built in 1933 to replace the North Manitou Shoal Lightship:

…anchored two miles off Dimmick’s Point. In 1909, the Lighthouse Board noted that a shoal had developed southeast of Manitou Island in recent years and requested a lightship be placed on the easterly end of the shoal to help mark the six-mile-wide channel between Dimmick’s Point and Pyramid Point on the mainland.

This light station replaces the North Manitou Lightship No. 103 and North Manitou Island Light Station, and serves as an improved mark for the outer end of the shoal projecting southerly from the south end of North Manitou Islands. A substantial saving in annual maintenance cost will be effected. The crib on which the structure is built stands in 22 feet of water, on a hard sand and coarse stone bottom. The crib is 65 feet square by 22 feet deep, and is filled with conveyor stone. The voids around the stone in the 20 outer pockets were pumped full of Portland cement grout. Arch web steel sheet piling driven 24 feet into lake bottom encloses and protects the crib.

The crib supports a hollow pier of reinforced concrete 62 feet square and 20 feet above water, with deck overhanging 2 feet on all sides. This hollow space is occupied by the steam heating plant, coal and oil storage, laundry, etc. Above the pier rises the steel building 37 feet square, two stories high, surmounted by a square tower of three stories additional height. On the top of the tower is a third-order lantern, with its focal plane 79 feet above water. The building and tower are constructed of steel channels 12 and 15 inches wide, standing vertically with flanges turned in and bolted together on the inside.

View Jim’s photo background big and see more in his slideshow.

North Breakwater

Ludington North Breakwater Light

North Breakwater Light, photo by Mark Miller

The entry for Ludington North Breakwater Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light details a ton of the history of this lighthouse including the reason for its interesting appearance:

Over the summer of 1924, a unique structure took shape at the end of the North Breakwater. The main tower, fabricated of steel plates over an internal steel skeleton, took the form of a four-sided pyramidal tower with four round porthole windows on each of the three decks within. With plans calling for the installation of an air diaphragm fog signal operated by an electrically powered compressor, there was no need for a large fog signal building, and thus the signal building took the form of a relatively small structure integrated into the base of the landward side of the main tower. In order to help protect the structure from the force of waves crashing across the breakwater, the concrete foundation at the base of the structure was formed with angled surfaces designed to deflect the force of wave action up and away from the building.

The white painted tower was capped by a square gallery and an octagonal iron lantern installed at its center. Since the standard lantern design being used by the Lighthouse Service in new construction at this time was of circular conformation with diagonal astragals, it is likely (but unconfirmed) that the lantern used on this new light was transferred from the South Pierhead beacon which the new light was designed to replace.

Click through for more including a number of old photos.

View Mark’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More lighthouses and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse in Lake Huron

14 foot shoal lighthouse by David Juckett

14 foot shoal lighthouse, photo by David Juckett

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light remains the gold standard for information about the lighthouses of the Great Lakes. Terry writes (in part) of the process of constructing Fourteen Foot Shoal Light near the entry into Cheboygan Harbor:

With completion of the work at Poe Reef in 1929, the work crew turned their attention to work at Fourteen Foot Shoal. While the new light was of a totally different design, and considerably smaller than the twin lights built at Martin and Poe Reefs, the construction of the crib proceeded in much the same manner, with the construction of a wooden crib at the shore station on the Cheboygan Pier. After an area on the shoal was leveled, the crib was eased down wooden ways into the water, and towed to the shoal by the Lighthouse Tender Aspen. Once over the leveled area, the crib was sunk to the bottom by filling its empty pockets with rocks and gravel.

This timber foundation then served as a core, upon and around which wooden forms were constructed and filled with concrete loaded from the Lighthouse Service scow. As was the case with both the Martin and Poe stations, the upper edge of the crib was formed into a graceful flare, designed to deflect waves away from the pier, in order to help protect the structures which would be erected on the deck. With the completion of the concrete work, the pier stood fifty feet square, and its deck level fifteen feet above the water.

The steel framework for the single story equipment building was erected at the center of the deck. Standing thirty-four feet by twenty-eight feet in plan, on completion, the entire exterior of the building was sheathed with 1/4-quarter inch steel plates, each riveted to the steel framework beneath. Centered on the roof ridge, a cylindrical steel tower was integrated into the roof, standing six feet in diameter and twenty-four feet above the ridge line. The tower was capped with an octagonal cast iron lantern and outfitted with a flashing white Fourth Order Fresnel lens.

Read on for lots more and photos!

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

Houghton’s Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse

Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse Houghton Michigan

Homeward Bound, photo by Bobby Palosaari

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is my go-to for Michigan lighthouse lore. His entry for the Keweenaw Upper Entrance Lighthouse says in part:

With the meteoric growth of copper mining in the Keweenaw between 1843 and 1968, increased shipping access to the twin cities of Houghton and Hancock became increasingly important. To this end, the Portage River Canal was cut through a tamarack swamp at its western end in 1860, creating a channel 10 feet deep and 80 feet wide, opening full Portage River navigation for the largest vessels of the day from western Lake Superior.

In 1874, to assist in safely guiding ships into this cut, a large gabled two-story brick dwelling with attached square 33 foot high brick tower was constructed on the west bank at the entrance to the canal. With increasing use of the canal, silting became a major problem, and tolls were levied for its use in order to cover the continuing expenses for repairs and dredging.

For reasons as yet undetermined, the original lighthouse was replaced with the existing fifty foot square steel Art Deco style tower at the end of the breakwater in 1950.

View Bobby’s photo background bigtacular and view & purchase more of his photos including this one at palosaariphotography.com.

May’s Eta Aquariad Meteor Shower

Milky Way over Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Milky Way over Au Sable Point Lighthouse, photo by Michigan Nut

EarthSky shares details on this week’s Eta Aquarid meteor shower:

In 2016, the forecast calls for the greatest number of Eta Aquarid meteors to light up the predawn darkness on May 5 and 6. It should be a good year for this shower, with the May 6 new moon guaranteeing deliciously dark skies for the 2016 Eta Aquarids. This shower favors the Southern Hemisphere, ranking as one of the finest showers of the year. At mid-northern latitudes, these meteors don’t fall so abundantly, though mid-northern meteor watchers will catch some, too, and might be lucky enough to catch an earthgrazer – a bright, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky – before dawn.

Halley’s Comet is the source of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Every year, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley’s Comet in late April and May, so bits and pieces from this comet light up the nighttime as Eta Aquarid meteors. This shower is said to be active from April 19 to May 20, although Earth plows most deeply into this stream of comet debris around May 5 or 6.

The comet dust smashes into Earth’s upper atmosphere at nearly 240,000 kilometers (150,000 miles) per hour. Roughly half of these swift-moving meteors leave persistent trains – ionized gas trails that glow for a few seconds after the meteor has passed.

They add that early morning is the best time to see them and that the broad peak of the Eta Aquarids may present a decent showing of meteors during the predawn hours on May 4 and May 7 as well! Read on for more.

View John’s photo bigger, see more in his Starry Nights slideshow and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook!

More about the Au Sable Lighthouse in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures!

Above Frankfort Harbor

Above Frankfort Harbor

Frankfort Harbor, photo by Julie

My friend Enrico of Traverse Today and his sons shared a great aerial video from Frankfort the other day:

Julie took this stunning shot last Saturday. View her photo bigger and see more in her Drone shots slideshow.

Lots more from Frankfort on Michigan in Pictures.