Jay writes: While cutting my winter firewood I noticed this fern shadow cast on one of the cuts. So many beautiful things to see.
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.”
…is a Federally designated wilderness in Michigan’s lower peninsula and encompasses 3,450 acres of National Forest. Nordhouse Dunes is part of the Ludington Dune Ecosystem, which also includes Lake Michigan Recreation Area, and Ludington State Park. The dunes were formed 3,500 to 4,000 years ago and stand up to 140 feet high. Ludington Dune Ecosystem has the largest area of fresh water interdunal ponds in the world. The interdunal ponds, small water holes and marshes, decorate the area. Dune grass covers many of the dunes and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
The Nordhouse Dunes are interspersed with woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. Plant life is varied and includes the Federally Endangered Pitcher’s Thistle. The sand beach along the lake varies from narrow to wide and is home to the Federally Endangered Piping Plover, a shore bird that nests on the ground in small cobbles.
The wilderness area is popular for hiking, camping, hunting, nature study and wildlife viewing. There are approximately 10-miles of trail that can be accessed from 2 developed trailheads at the end of Nurnberg Road and Lake Michigan Recreation Area.
More Michigan sunrises on Michigan in Pictures!
While lilacs have faded in much of Michigan, they’re still going strong on Mackinac Island as we head into the final weekend of the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival. The Northern Express’s writeup on the Lilac Festival says in part:
There are over 100 varieties of lilac on the island, the most recognizable being the common lilac or the French lilac, which ranges in color from white and pink to blue and several shades of purple. Many of the island’s lilacs were planted in the Victorian age, and some have lived for over 150 years, thanks to the island’s nurturing microclimate.
“Mackinac Island has some of the largest specimens of the common lilac in the country,” said Tim Hygh, executive director of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. “Also found here, but more rare, are the Himalayan lilac, which are lavender, and the Japanese tree lilac, which are typically white.”
Michigan strawberries are starting to roll into farm markets, stores, roadside stands, and people’s gardens. Here’s a few Michigan strawberry facts from the Michigan Department of Agriculture:
- In 2009, Michigan produced 43,000 tons of fresh strawberries and 3,000 tons of processed strawberries, generating $6.6 million
- Most of the fresh Michigan strawberries are picked by consumers at “u-pick” operations around the state
- Strawberries contain 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C
- They are an excellent source of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and fight strokes
- They are an excellent source of fiber, which help reduce total cholesterol levels
You can check out this feature on Michigan strawberries at Absolute Michigan for links to U-Pick farms and more.
More Michigan strawberries on Michigan in Pictures.