Calm Before the Storm

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, photo by Peter Tinetti

What a September. Even without the daily political chaos, we’ve got the West in flames, our fourth largest city devastated by flooding from the current most costly storm in US history, and what could very well be the new most costly storm barreling towards Florida.

Hopefully, we’ll get a breather soon.

View the photo of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse background big and see more in Peter’s slideshow. He’s originally from the UP but lives in California, so many of the pics are from there … and gorgeous!

More about the Eagle Harbor Light on Michigan in Pictures.

Golden Light at Mackinac Point

Mackinac Point Lighthouse, photo by T P Mann

Great shot from a year about at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, which is located right next to the Mackinac Bridge.

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in TP’s 200+ Faves slideshow.

Starry Night at Little Sable Point

Little Sable Point Starry Night, photo by malderink

“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Big Sable Point yesterday, Little Sable Point today – is there a Medium Sable Point for tomorrow? ;)

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in malderink’s slideshow.

Michigan Lighthouse Festival celebrating 150 Years at Big Sable Point

Summer Evening at Big Sable Point Lighthouse, photo by Craig Sterken Photography

This weekend is the 2nd Annual Michigan Lighthouse Festival featuring Big Sable Point Lighthouse’s 150th Anniversary! The festival features lighthouse tours throughout the weekend, a vendor show on Saturday and Sunday, Friday Night dinner with special guest speakers, topped off with Ric Mixter performing “The Storm” on Saturday night.

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light has some great information about the history of Big Sable Point Lighthouse including an explanation of the light’s unique appearance:

Construction began in early 1867 with the arrival of Lighthouse Board and Army Corps of Engineers workers, who immediately began the construction of a dock at which to unload the necessary supplies for the project. Next, a temporary cofferdam was constructed to keep waster from entering the foundation, which consisted of tightly fitted cut stone blocks beginning a depth of six feet below grade and extending three feet above.

On this sturdy foundation, the skilled masons began to raise the tower. Constructed of cream city brick, the walls were laid five feet thick at the foundation, tapering to a thickness of two feet thick immediately below the gallery. Within the tower, a circular inner wall, eight feet in diameter supported the cast iron spiral staircase. On its’ vertical climb, the stairway passed through three landing areas.

…In 1898, the District Inspector reported that the cream city brick used in constructing the tower was found to be flaking as a result of exposure to the elements, and voiced concern that if left as-is, the integrity of the tower would likely be compromised. This flaking grew so severe, that in 1899 a contract was awarded to the J. G. Wagner Company of Milwaukee to construct the necessary steel plates to encase the tower. The plates were satisfactorily test assembled at the Milwaukee Lighthouse Depot, loaded onto lighthouse tenders and then shipped to Big Sable. With the arrival of the plates, the process of riveting the plates together around the tower, and filling the void between the brick and the plates with cement began. The construction was completed in June 1900 at a total labor and materials cost of $4,925. In order to increase the visibility of the tower during daylight hours, the new cladding was painted white with a contrasting black band around its’ middle third.

View the photo bigger, see more in Craig’s Big Sable Lighthouse slideshow, and view & purchase photos at craigsterken.com.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

Even Mr. Brightside has a dark side

Mr. Brightside, photo by Aaron Springer

The Frankfort North Pier Head Light marks the entrance to Betsie Lake. It’s a popular fishing spot, but on Friday afternoon as UpNorthLive reports, a fisherman learned to pay a little more attention to his surroundings:

The Coast Guard says the man was fishing when the weather picked up. He then became stuck on the pier due to crashing waves over the break wall. The Coast Guard was notified by the Benzie County Central Dispatch around 9:25 p.m.

Coast Guard Station Frankfort then launched a 25-foot response boat, a small crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City MH-60 jayhawk helicopter crew. The response boat arrived on scene first and confirmed the man was on the wall. The boat could not help with the rescue due to the shallow water.

The Coast Guard says the MH-60 helicopter crew hovered over the lighthouse on the pier and lowered a rescue swimmer who then basket-hoisted the man to safety with no injuries before flying to Frankfort Dow Memorial Airport where local EMS were standing by.

Click through for more including a video of the man and the pier taken from the Coast Guard helicopter.

View the photo bigger and see more in Aaron’s slideshow.

More from the Frankfort Light on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan Lighthouses: Gravelly Shoal Light

Gravelly Shoals offshore Light in Saginaw Bay, photo by George Thomas

The entry on Gravelly Shoal Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light begins:

Point Lookout juts from the shore on the western shore of Lake Huron, approximately half-way between the mouth of the Saginaw River and Tawas Point. With only five to eighteen feet above it, Gravelly Shoal extends some 3 miles southeasterly from Point Lookout towards Big Charity Island. To help guide down-bound vessels headed for Saginaw Bay through the deeper water lying between the southeast end of Gravelly Shoal and Big Charity Island, Congress appropriated $5,000 to construct a lighthouse on the northwestern shore of Big Charity on August 18, 1856. Work began at the site that year, but as a result of being started so late in the season, the station was not completed and lighted until the following year.

Perhaps as a result of its exposed location, or as a result of its keeper’s dwelling being one of the few of wooden frame construction on any of the Great Lakes, the station was a constant source of maintenance problems, and was not surprisingly one of the first to be automated through the installation of an acetylene illumination system in 1900. At this time an occulting white Pintsch gas buoy was also placed at the southeastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the western edge of the passage between the shoal and Big Charity Island.

As a result of the combination of increasing vessel size, improvements in offshore light construction and the growing adoption of radio direction finding equipment, it became plain in the late 1930’s that the old Charity light and the gas buoy on Gravelly Shoal had outlived their usefulness, and consideration turned to the construction of a state-of-the-art offshore aid to navigation at the eastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the deeper water of the passage.

View the photo background big and see more in George’s Lighthouses slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Today is not the Earth’s Longest Day

Untitled, photo by Jim Schoensee

The summer solstice arrives at 12:24 AM tomorrow when sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator, making today the longest day of  2017. Vox’s article on the summer solstice has some interesting info about the solstice including a look at whether or not today is the longest day in Earth’s history:

Ever since the Earth has had liquid oceans and a moon, its rotation has been gradually slowing over time due to tidal friction. That means — over very, very long periods of time — the days have been getting steadily longer. About 4.5 billion years ago, it took the Earth just six hours to complete one rotation. About 350 million years ago, it took 23 hours. Today, of course, it takes about 24 hours. And the days will gradually get longer still.

Given that, you’d think 2017 would be the longest day in all of history. But while it’s certainly up there, it doesn’t quite take top honors.

That’s because tidal friction isn’t the only thing affecting Earth’s rotation — there are a few countervailing factors. The melting of glacial ice, which has been occurring since the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago (and is now ramping up because of global warming), is actually speeding up Earth’s rotation very slightly, shortening the days by a few fractions of a millisecond. Likewise, geologic activity in the planet’s core, earthquakes, ocean currents, and seasonal wind changes can also speed up or slow down Earth’s rotation.

When you put all these factors together, scientists have estimated that the longest day in Earth’s history (so far) likely occurred back in 1912. That year’s summer solstice was the longest period of daylight the Northern Hemisphere has ever seen (and, conversely, the 1912 winter solstice was the longest night we’ve ever seen).

Eventually, the effects of tidal friction should overcome all those other factors, and Earth’s days will get longer and longer as its rotation keeps slowing (forcing timekeepers to add leap seconds to the calendar periodically). Which means that in the future, there will be plenty of summer solstices that set new records as the “longest day in Earth’s history.”

View Jim’s photo of the Charlevoix Lighthouse on the summer solstice in 2010 bigger and see more in his Charlevoix Lighthouse slideshow.