Rare “Pure Award” for the Headlands Dark Sky Park

Milky Way, photo by Joseph Snowaert

I’ve been an astronomy nut since I was a little kid, and I’m always happy when the importance of the night sky gets the recognition it deserves. That’s certainly the case as the Headlands Dark Sky Park has won Michigan’s most exclusive tourism award. Absolute Michigan explains:

Emmet County’s International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands won the distinguished recognition of the state’s premier Pure Michigan campaign at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism Tuesday when they won the Pure Award for 2017. The Pure Award, which has only been awarded twice in the 10 years of the Pure Michigan campaign, recognizes best practices in stewarding and preserving Michigan’s natural, cultural, and heritage-based resources.

“This award helps us further realize our goal of safeguarding the community’s natural and direct encounter with Northern Michigan’s unique and exceptional environment, both by day and by night,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams.

…The Headlands International Dark Sky Park is a 600-acre park on the Straits of Mackinac, two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City, at 15675 Headlands Road. The park is free and open to the public every day. While no camping is allowed, visitors are welcome to stay overnight to observe the dark sky overhead. The Headlands became the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. and the 9th in the world in May 2011, as designated by the International Dark Sky Association (www.darksky.org), and each month free programs are held for the public.

Read on for more.

Joseph took this photo back in May of 2014. View it background big and see more in his Writing Center slideshow.

22-Degree Radius Halo

22 degrees at Van’s Beach, photo by Andrew McFarlane

Atmospheric Optics is an excellent resource for rainbows and similar phenomena. Their page on 22-degree halos says:

22º radius halos are visible all over the world and throughout the year. Look out for them (eye care!) whenever the sky is wisped or hazed with thin cirrus clouds. These clouds are cold and contain ice crystals in even the hottest climes.

The halo is large. Stretch out the fingers of your hand at arms length. The tips of the thumb and little finger then subtend roughly 20°. Place your thumb over the the sun and the halo will be near the little finger tip. The halo is always the same diameter regardless of its position in the sky. Sometimes only parts of the complete circle are visible.

Much smaller coloured rings around the sun or moon are a corona produced by water droplets rather than ice crystals.

Lots more at Atmospheric Optics!

See the photo bigger and view more on my Instagram.

More rainbows, sundogs, etc. on Michigan in Pictures – seriously cool stuff in here folks!

Alley Adventures, Grand Rapids Edition

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Alley Adventures, photo by Jerry James

Jerry writes Tonight’s image is brought to you by the darker side of reality. Things are not always sunsets and rainbows. Shot taken with the Olympus EM5 Mark II and the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye in grand rapids, Michigan

View his photo bigger, view work and read his thoughts on his website, and definitely check out Jerry’s slideshow for more!

Gloom over West Grand Traverse Bay

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Gloom over Grand Traverse Bay, photo by Amie Lucas

View Amie’s photo background bigilicious, see more in her Central Michigan slideshow, and be sure to follow Amie Lucas Photography on Facebook.

PS: You can get Amie’s 2017 Calendar on her website.

God Rays on Saginaw Bay

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God’s Rays over Saginaw Bay, photo by Tom Clark

Awesome shot from one month ago on Saginaw Bay! View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Skyscapes slideshow.

More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.

The Nets Are Off: Michigan’s 2016 Grape Harvest a Success!

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The Nets Are Off, photo by Mark Smith

The Detroit News reports that 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for Michigan wine grapes:

Frigid winters contributed to dismal harvests the past two falls. In 2014, Michigan winemakers lost a majority of their crops to the extreme cold. And last year, up to 75 percent of the wine crop was decimated because of winter, a late spring and, in northern Michigan, a late-summer hail storm. Many wineries were forced to supplement their vintages with grapes and juice bought from out-of-state growers.

“Winemakers are very excited about the harvest this year,” said Karel Bush, executive director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. “After that second brutal winter, some vineyards had to buy from elsewhere and that made it very difficult for them, especially if their business model is to be an estate winery. You have to be open, you have bills to pay, staff to pay, so you had to buy grapes and juice from elsewhere. This year, they’re delighted to have their own crop to work with.”

…It’s good news for an industry that continues to grow and is winning accolades for both white and red varietals, most notably chardonnay, riesling, cabernet franc and pinot noir. Home to more than 120 wineries, Michigan ranks 10th in the nation in production, producing more than 2.5 million gallons a year — a number expected to be reached again this year. And wineries, with their ever-expanding tasting rooms and activities, have become a big business across the state, attracting more than 2 million visitors a year.

Mark took this photo at Bel Lago Winery on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. The nets he refers to are those snow-looking piles that are white nets that hang over the vines to keep birds away during the final weeks of ripening. View his photo background bigilicious and see more late-fall goodness in his slideshow.

Tonight’s Hunter’s Moon … and November’s Extra Super Moon

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Catching the Hunter’s Moon, photo by Brad Worrell

EarthSky notes that 2016 Hunter’s Moon is also a supermoon, explaining:

In some months, the full moon is closer to us in orbit than others. The 2016 Hunter’s Moon does happen to be particularly close. It’s near perigee, the moon’s closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit. Perigee comes on October 16 at 23:36 UTC (translate to your time zone), about 19 hours after the crest of the moon’s full phase at 4:23 UTC on the same date. Nowadays, people call these close full moons supermoons.

Some don’t like the word supermoon … but we like it. Full moons at their closest to Earth do look brighter. They have a larger-than-usual effect on earthly tides. Although most of us can’t detect that a supermoon appears larger to the eye, very careful and experienced observers say it’s possible.

So you won’t likely see a bigger-than-usual moon (unless you see it near the horizon, an effect known as the moon illusion). But you can notice how brightly the moon is shining, especially on the nights of October 15 and 16!

Next month – in November 2016, the full moon and perigee (closest point) come even closer together to stage the largest full moon of the year on November 14. … That November 2016 full moon will feature the closest supermoon since 1948!

Tons more about the Hunter’s Moon on EarthSky!

View Brad’s photo bigger and seem more in his Not More Pictures of the Moon! slideshow (note: more pictures of the moon are there).