Falling Skies in October: Draconid & Orionid meteor showers

Neowise and meteor by Gary Syrba

Neowise and meteor by Gary Syrba

In addition to being the season of cider, changing leaves, and Halloween, October also brings a pair of meteor showers. Our friends at EarthSky give you all you need to know to see the Draconid & Orionid meteor showers:

The Draconids, October 8th

In 2021, watch the Draconid meteors at nightfall and early evening on October 8. You might catch some on the nights before and after, as well. Fortunately, the thin waxing crescent moon sets before nightfall. It won’t hinder this year’s Draconid shower … This shower is usually a sleeper, producing only a handful of languid meteors per hour in most years. But watch out if the Dragon awakes! In rare instances, fiery Draco has been known to spew forth many hundreds of meteors in a single hour.

The Orionids, October 21st

Unfortunately a full moon accompanies 2021’s Orionid shower. Try watching for these meteors in the wee hours before dawn on October 21. You won’t escape the moon, though. On a dark, moonless night, the Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 10 to 20 meteors per hour. More meteors tend to fly after midnight, and the Orionids are typically at their best in the wee hours before dawn. The Orionids sometimes produce bright fireballs, which might be able to overcome a moonlit glare. If you trace these meteors backward, they seem to radiate from the Club of the famous constellation Orion the Hunter.

Gary took this shot last summer. Head over to his Flickr for the latest!

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Reaching for Summer’s Light

Reaching for the light by Mike Carey

Reaching for the light by Mike Carey

In just over a day – 3:20 PM tomorrow at the vernal equinox to be precise – Summer 2021 will be in the books. Here’s hoping you get a little of that summer light before it’s all gone!

See more in Mike’s Lake Michigan 2021 gallery on Flickr

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Baby Blue and Storms

Baby Blue & Storms by Jamie MacDonald

Baby Blue and Storms by Jamie MacDonald

One of the defining factors of Summer 2021 in Michigan is a four letter word: rain. In addition to being one of our warmest summers on record, it’s also been one of the wettest as the Detroit News reports

Flint notched its third wettest summer with 15.84 inches of rain. Detroit took seventh with 15.28. Saginaw ranked eighth with 13.30.

Detroit’s total included the 2.73 inches recorded Aug. 12 amid severe storms that left more than 900,000 residents across the state without electricity, some for up to a week.

Although only one daily rainfall total was broken July 16, when 2.20 inches were recorded at Detroit Metro, at least four significant flood events doused the region this summer, the weather service said.

Among them was the June 25-26 episode that flooded thousands of homes, resulting in a federal disaster declaration.

The Traverse City Ticker adds that summer 2021 was the wettest ever for Traverse City & Gaylord with Gaylord, Alpena, and Sault Ste. Marie notching their hottest summers ever.

While the rain has been a major headache for many, as Jamie writes, the skies can get pretty amazing when storms come rolling through around sunset! See more stormy goodness in his Stormy Weather gallery. You can also check out his podcasts on photography & his photography workshops at Mirrorless Minutes.

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Happy 320th Birthday Detroit!

the lamp post by kare hav

the lamp post by kare hav

320 years ago tomorrow on July 24, 1701, Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac realized the success of his plan with mentor and Governor General of New France, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, to found a new settlement at the south of Lake Huron to increase the security of French interests on the Great Lakes. Frontenac died, and his successor was not fond of Cadillac so, as History Detroit explains, the story of Cadillac took matters into his own hands:

Cadillac set sail for France in 1698 in order to convince King Louis to allow him to found a new settlement lower in the Great Lakes. Specifically, he was interested in the area south of Lake Huron known as le détroit, or the straits.

The area known as le détroit was ideal for a new settlement because the land was fertile, the location on the river was felt to be easily defended against the British and the climate was more hospitable than that in the more northern settlements like Michilimackinac.

Cadillac returned to Quebec, then travelled to Montreal where he gathered canoes, farmers, traders, artisans, soldiers, and Native Americans to accompany him on his quest. The men set sail on June 4, 1701.

Cadillac and his men reached the Detroit River on July 23, 1701. The following day, July 24, 1701, the group traveled north on the Detroit River and chose a place to build the settlement. Cadillac named the settlement Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit in honor of King Louis’s Minister of Marine.

Kare hav took this photo of the Detroit skyline from across the Detroit River back in 2017. See more in their Detroit gallery & have a great weekend!

Lots more Detroit photos & history on Michigan in Pictures!

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Double the Rainbow

Another Look at Our Rainbow Last Sunday Evening by Steve Brown

Another Look at Our Rainbow Last Sunday Evening by Steve Brown

One of my favorite websites, Atmospheric Optics, says that secondary rainbows or “double rainbows” feature a secondary bow that is nearly always fainter than the primary, with colors reversed and more widely separated:

Light can be reflected more than once inside a raindrop. Rays escaping after two reflections make a secondary bow.

The secondary has a radius of 51º and lies some 9º outside the primary bow. It is broader, 1.8X the width of the primary, and its colours are reversed so that the reds of the two bows always face one another. The secondary has 43% of the total brightness of the primary but its surface brightness is lower than that because its light is spread over its greater angular extent. The primary and secondary are are concentric, sharing the antisolar point for a center.

Steve took this photo last month & you can see more in his Michigan Skyscapes gallery on Flickr.

Lots more rainbows on Michigan in Pictures!

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I dream of clouds

I Dream of Clouds by Mighty Boy Brian

I Dream of Clouds by Mighty Boy Brian

My heart is heavy this morning after watching a day of chaos in our nation’s Capitol & realizing that there’s nothing I or anyone can really say to those who reject the principles this country was founded upon. Stay safe everyone.

Brian shared this photo ten years ago. See more in his The Top Thirty album on Flickr & view more from him at brianwolfey.com and on Instagram.

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2020 Geminid Meteor Shower on Tap!

Geminid Meteor by Ken Scott Photography

Geminid Meteor by Ken Scott Photography

Science News has an excellent story by Ken Crowswell on the Geminid Meteor Shower which peaks this Sunday night (December 13) when:

…countless meteors will shoot across the sky as space particles burn up in our atmosphere and meet a fiery end. Most meteor showers occur when Earth slams into debris left behind by a comet. But not this meteor shower, which is likely to be the most spectacular of the year. Known as the Geminid shower, it strikes every December and arises not from a flamboyant comet but from an ordinary asteroid — the first, but not the last, linked to a meteor shower.

…Unlike the Perseid meteors, which people have been observing for nearly 2,000 years, the Geminids are relatively new. First reports of their existence came from England and the United States in 1862. The shower in those days was weak, producing at most only one or two dozen meteors an hour. During the 20th century, however, the shower strengthened. Nowadays, at the shower’s peak, a single observer under a dark sky can see more than 100 meteors an hour. That’s better than most Perseid performances.

A heat-seeking spacecraft named the Infrared Astronomical Satellite discovered a small asteroid & Harvard astronomer Fred Whipple noticed it followed the same path around the sun as the particles in the Geminid meteoroid stream:

The newfound asteroid, Whipple declared, must be their long-sought source. The find also explained why the meteoroids were so dense: They come from a space rock rather than an icy comet.

The asteroid revolves around the sun every 1.43 years and comes very close to the sun, cutting well inside the orbit of Mercury, the innermost planet. Astronomers therefore christened the asteroid Phaethon, a son of Helios the sun god in Greek mythology. At its farthest, Phaethon ventures beyond the orbit of Mars and reaches the asteroid belt, home of the largest space rocks, between the paths of Mars and Jupiter.

There’s so much more right here – a truly excellent article if you have the time!

I’ve featured this photo Ken took in December of 2012 before – he’s one of the best for night sky pics! As we’re heading into the holidays, definitely consider one of Ken’s Leelanau calendars – they’re fantastic! Follow Ken on Facebook for the latest & see more in his massive Skies Above gallery on Flickr.

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Electric & Perfectly Hectic

Electric & Perfectly Hectic by Snap Happy Gal

Electric & Perfectly Hectic by Snap Happy Gal

Heather says it was electric, and perfectly hectic which seems to me to be an apt description for Michigan’s wild 2020 ride.

See it bigger on her Facebook and definitely follow Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook and Instagram for more!

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Pls send rainbows 🙏

Double rainbow! by Tom

Double rainbow! by Tom

Michigan is drowning right now in some of the worst rains on record. Every day for the last two weeks, from Midland to Grand Rapids to Traverse City, my feed has been full of images of people losing everything to flooding. PLEASE send rainbows.

Just so this post isn’t a totally depressing send-off for your weekend, let me call in one of my favorite websites, Atmospheric Optics. Regarding secondary rainbows or “double rainbows” they say that the secondary is nearly always fainter than the primary, with colors reversed and more widely separated:

Light can be reflected more than once inside a raindrop. Rays escaping after two reflections make a secondary bow.

The secondary has a radius of 51º and lies some 9º outside the primary bow. It is broader, 1.8X the width of the primary, and its colours are reversed so that the reds of the two bows always face one another. The secondary has 43% of the total brightness of the primary but its surface brightness is lower than that because its light is spread over its greater angular extent. The primary and secondary are are concentric, sharing the antisolar point for a center.

Tom took this near Alma back in 2014. See his latest on Flickr & check out more Michigan rainbows on Michigan in Pictures!

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Blue Angels & Michigan Air National Guard Flyovers today & tomorrow

Four Angels by Michael Seabrook

Four Angels by Michael Seabrook

mLive reports that the Blue Angels & 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard will conduct flyovers over eight Michigan cities to show support for front-line workers:

The flyovers by the Air National Guard are designed to show solidarity with Michiganders and support for healthcare workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those flyovers are tentatively scheduled over two days.

The first flyover is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, over the cities of Marquette, Lansing and Flint. A KC-135 Stratotanker, which is a type of mid-air refueling aircraft, will participate. That same day, May 12, one or more A-10 Thunderbolts, also known as “Warthogs,” will fly over the cities of Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.

…On May 12, the U.S. Navy’s legendary Blue Angels will also fly over Detroit. The route and time are scheduled to be released Monday. The last flyover in the series is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13, over Novi and Detroit. Both the A-10 and KC-135 will participate.

More in mLive & on the Facebook pages for the Blue Angels & the Michigan Air National Guard’s 127th Wing.

Michael took this photo at the 2016 National Cherry Festival (postponed to 2021 btw). See more in his Airshows album on Flickr!

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