Lyrid Meteor Shower AND Northern Lights this weekend!!

Lyrid Meteor … sprinkle, photo by Ken Scott Photography

I got an alert this morning that the Kp levels that predict the likelihood of northern lights is at 5 to 6 over the next two nights making the aurora a strong possibility for much of Michigan. Lots about the northern lights on Michigan in Pictures.

Now let’s add into the mix the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower. It’s a more variable shower than the Perseid or Leonid showers, but it has still produced some impressive showers in the past AND we are blessed with a waxing moon that will make viewing a lot better. EarthSky shares:

The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend! It’s active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2018, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from the waxing moon.

No matter where you are on Earth, expect the greatest number of meteors to fall during the few hours before dawn.

In a moonless sky, you might see from about 10 to 20 Lyrid meteors an hour at the shower’s peak on the morning of April 22. In 2018, the waxing moon will set before the primetime morning hours. An outburst of Lyrid meteors is always a possibility, too, though no Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2018.

In 1982, American observers did see an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour. Around 100 meteors per hour were seen in Greece in 1922 and from Japan in 1945.

Much more including precise viewing tips at EarthSky!

Ken writes that (back in April of 2016) he shot over a 3 hour period in hopes to catch the meteor ‘shower’ and only caught this one streaker. View his photo bigger, see more in his Skies Above album, and visit Ken Scott Photography to view & purchase work!

September’s Corn Moon is full tonight!

Reflections of the Moon, photo by TP Mann

Space.com’s article on September’s Full Corn Moon says in part:

Look up tonight (Sept. 6) to see the Full Corn Moon glowing in the sky. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see the planet Neptune glowing faintly nearby.

The moon reached its fullest phase early this morning, at 3:02 a.m. EDT (0702 GMT), but it will still appear full to casual observers this evening. Look for it in the southern sky in the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer.

Usually, the full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon, but this year that name is reserved for October’s full moon. That’s because the Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept. 22 this year.

Check out the photo of the full moon over Torch Lake background bigtacular and see more in TP’s Night Shots slideshow.

Lots more about the moon on Michigan in Pictures.

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.

Night … and light

night, photo by kare hav

While the lights of distant Bay City across Saginaw Bay from Point Lookout make for a beautiful photo, I feel for the photographer who wishes they’d shut them off at night.

If you’re interested in making your community more “night friendly” check out How to Start a Local Dark Skies Group from the International Dark Sky Association. In addition to miles and miles in the UP, Michigan has six designated Dark Sky Preserves and the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

View the photo background big and see more in kare hav’s Pt. Lookout/AuGres slideshow.

American Dream

Bay City Fireworks Festival, photo by Jeff Caverly

“There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American Dream.”
-Archibald MacLeish

View the photo background big and see lots more from Bay City’s Fireworks Festival in Jeff’s slideshow!

Moons Big & Small: Perigee & Apogee Moons

A comparison of the perigee and apogee Moons of 2011.

Moons Big and Small, photo by Kevin

Last night I learned that the full moon was at apogee, and with all the love I’ve given to supermoons, I figured that I should throw a bone to the tiny ones as well. Kevin is a regular on Michigan in Pictures with his stunning photos of the night sky. He made a comparison of the perigee and apogee Moons of 2011 and shared this explanation:

The Full Moon of October 2011 was near apogee, which is the furthest point in the Moon’s orbit of the Earth. Back in March, you may recall, the Moon was at it’s closest point in its orbit to Earth, and the media dubbed it the “Supermoon.”

According to several sources, the difference in size between the March Full Moon and the October Full Moon is 12.3%. Why is there such a difference, you may ask?

Well, the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical, just as the Earth’s is around the Sun. That means that as the object – the Moon in this case – orbits the “parent” object (the Earth) it will never be the same distance away.

The image I put together shows the difference between the size of the Moon at perigee (March 2011) and apogee (October 2011). This comparison makes the size difference quite clear.

Kevin adds that both images of the Moon were taken with exactly the same equipment. View it bigger and see more in his massive The Moon slideshow.

PS: This full moon is the strawberry moon, and you can click that link for more about that and (unsurprisingly) a photo from Kevin!

Dance of Light, March of Science

Dance of Light, photo by Eric Hackney

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie

The NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has forecast a G2 level storm for tonight, which may very well produce Northern Lights! The SWPC is an invaluable scientific resource that is wholly produced by our tax dollars. In addition to letting us know when northern lights are possible, the SWPC helps to maintain our modern communication grid when the Sun gets a little extra exuberant.

It’s my heartfelt belief that one of the duties of our government is to work to make our country the leader in scientific advancement. As threats in public health, the environment, and a host of other realms increase, we need to be investing much more in science, not less.

To any who are participating in any of the 15 local Science Marches in Michigan today, the March for Science in Washington DC, or anywhere else, I salute you.

View Eric’s photo bigger and see more in his Personal Favorites slideshow.

PS: Happy Earth Day everyone.