Falling Skies: August is Meteor Season!

Falling Skies by Heather Higham

Falling Skies by Heather Higham

Our friends at EarthSky share that August is THE month for meteor watching, with two major showers:

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower is long and rambling. You might catch a Delta Aquariid anytime from about July 12 to August 23 each year. The nominal peak falls on or near July 29. But don’t pay too much attention to that date; the shower typically provides a decent number of meteors for some days after and before it. In 2021, a bright waning gibbous moon will wash out a good number of Delta Aquariids in late July. As we move into early August, a much fainter waning crescent moon will be less intrusive. As always happens, when the Perseid meteor shower is rising to its peak (mornings of August 11, 12 and 13), the Delta Aquariids will still be flying, too.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we rank the August Perseids as our all-time favorite meteor shower … No matter where you live worldwide, the 2021 Perseid meteor shower will probably produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. On the peak mornings in 2021 – in the early morning hours, when the most meteors will be flying – there’ll be no moon to ruin on the show.

Click those links for viewing tips & happy sky watching!

Heather took this photo back in 2016 on Loon Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. See more in her Night Skies gallery. For sure follow her on Instagram @SnapHappyMichigan & view and purchase her work on her website.

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Waterfall Wednesday: Agate Falls under the Milky Way

Agate Falls under the Milky Way by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

Agate Falls under the Milky Way by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

GoWaterfalling says that Agate Falls is an impressive waterfall that’s relatively easy to get to:

Agate Falls is a Michigan State Scenic Site 6.5 miles east of Bruce Crossing on MI-28. There is a roadside park (Joseph F. Oravec roadside park) just past the bridge over the Ontonagon River. This is one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in Michigan. Unfortunately the provided trails and overlooks are somewhat limited. With some effort you can scramble down to the river to get some very good views of the falls, which seems to be popular with local fishermen, or scramble up the river banks to get to the old railroad bridge over the falls. The bridge is now part of a snowmobile trail.

Marybeth got this stunning shot last week. See lots more on her Facebook page & at shelbydiamondstar.com!

More Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!

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Remembering MSU philanthropist Eli Broad

Another Night at the Museum by fotoman91

Another Night at the Museum by fotoman91

Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business dean Sanjay Gupta shares a tribute to billionaire alumnus Eli Broad who died last week at the age of 87, saying in part:

As a loyal Spartan, Mr. Broad has left an extraordinary and unparalleled legacy on the banks of the Red Cedar. In total, Eli and Edythe have given nearly $100 million to support MSU in a multitude of ways. From building the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to supporting the College of Education, their impact has been significant across campus.

Nowhere has their giving been more evident than here in the Broad College of Business. Passionate about the MBA program, in 1991, Mr. Broad made what was at the time the largest gift ever made to a public business school. His $20 million commitment to the Eli Broad College of Business and the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management — both renamed in his honor — was designed to help the university’s new full-time MBA program emerge as one of the nation’s top graduate management programs. Today, that program is a top 25 U.S. public program that has launched the careers of countless Spartans.

The Broad Museum is a contemporary art museum and is open free of charge Friday – Sunday from noon to 6 PM.

fotoman91 took this pic last summer. See more in his awesome Night Time gallery on Flickr.

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STEVE: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement

Five Minutes with STEVE by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

Five Minutes with STEVE by Shelbydiamondstar Photography

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.

You can comment on Shelby’s photo right here. For sure follow her on Facebook and view & purchase her work at shelbydiamondstar.com.

Lots more northern lights on Michigan in Pictures!

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Grand Rapids Blues

Blue Bridge by Dan Gaken

Blue Bridge by Dan Gaken

Dan shares:

I’ve never spent much time in Grand Rapids, but I have seen photos of this striking bridge across the Grand River. I wanted to capture the river as the sun went down. I love watching how quickly light can change. These three photos, all very different, were taken within 15-20 minutes of each other on Saturday, 6 March 2021. The photo above is the third in the series, taken at night with most of the light in the image now comes from the lights on the bridge, hotel windows and street lights.

Image 1: Just at sunset, you can see the warm tones from the last light on the buildings

Image 2: Blue hour – the sky almost balances the surface of the river perfectly

Perseverance: New Mars Rover Lands Today

Milky Way + Mars viewed from Garden Peninsula MI by Daniel Sandin

Milky Way + Mars viewed from Garden Peninsula MI by Daniel Sandin

NASA’s Perseverance Rover will land on the surface of Mars today, Feb. 18, 2021 in a search for ancient life that will test the next generation of exploration tools:

Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet, with a name that embodies NASA’s passion, and our nation’s capability, to take on and overcome challenges. It will collect carefully selected and documented rock and sediment samples for future return to Earth, search for signs of ancient microbial life, characterize the planet’s geology and climate, and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon.

Perseverance is also ferrying several cutting-edge technologies to the surface of Mars – including a helicopter named Ingenuity, the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.

The landing takes place just before 4 PM EST & you can watch online at NASA.

Daniel took this photo back of Mars in July of 2018 on the UP’s Garden Peninsula. See more great night photography on his Flickr & for sure check out his website – he looks like a very interesting guy!

Here’s NASA’s YouTube stream which goes live around 2 PM today.

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Michigan Lights Up the New Year!

Michigan Lights up the New Year by Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) UW-Madison

Michigan Lights Up the New Year by CIMSS UW-Madison

This satellite photo from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin shows:

…two of the first 2021 images from the Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 satellites when they flew over the U.S. overnight to acquire stunning VIIRS nighttime imagery with light from recently full moon (98% illumination). City lights shimmer in the wintry landscape while a large storm swirls in the Mississippi Valley. Including a zoom into the Great Lakes Region because there’s no place like home!

Indeed!! Head over to their Facebook page for more & congratulations for being a part of the most welcoming state from space on the planet!! ;) 

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Essexville Ice Magic

Essexville Ice Formation by Jeff Caverly

Essexville Ice Formation by Jeff Caverly

I’ve featured this stunning photo before but had to bring it back for an encore! Head over to Jeff’s Flickr for more & definitely follow Jeff Caverly Photography on Facebook!

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The Great Silver Lake Pyramid

The Great Silver Lake Pyramid by Neil Weaver

The Great Silver Lake Pyramid by Neil Weaver

Here’s a simply stunning shot from Silver Lake Sand Dunes, which is located on the shore of Lake Michigan between Muskegon & Ludington.

Neil has several more stunning shots from the Silver Lake Dunes on his Facebook page and some great photography (including his 2021 calendar) for sale at neilweaverphotography.com!

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Magnetic North: Northern Lights likely tonight!

Magnetic North by Aaron Springer

Magnetic North by Aaron Springer

The NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center reports that geomagnetic Storm Watches are in effect from December 10th & 11th, 2020 due to anticipated Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) effects giving us a good chance of seeing the northern lights! The CME occurred on December 7th and analysis suggests CME arrival possible late on 9 December, initially resulting in G1 (Minor) storm levels. As CME effects continue, activity is likely to increase, especially if the magnetic field carried with the CME connects well with Earth’s magnetosphere. The potential for strong storm levels exists and a G3 (Strong) Watch is in effect for December 10th. CME-related disturbances are forecast to continue into 11 December, likely resulting in G2 (Moderate) storm levels 

As a quick rule of thumb, we can occasionally see Northern Lights at the G1 level, often at G2 and almost definitely at G3. Here’s hoping for clear skies!!

Aaron took this photo  at Otter Creek in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore back in March of 2015 & shared: A very memorable night. After seeing all 4 indicators in red on [a now defunct aurora tracker website] (and I had never seen that before), I bolted for the lake with what was an already late start. Soon after arriving I punched through the ice while jumping from flow to flow in the shallows. This was the first time I have ever shot these and despite having one leg wet to the knee I managed to stay out for five hours on sheer excitement. 

See more in his Aurora Borealis gallery on Flickr & here’s hoping for some clear skies tonight!

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