Northern Lights and a Proton Arc!

Milky Way, A Proton Arc, and the Northern Lights

The Milky Way, A Proton Arc, and the Northern Lights!, photo by Eric Hackney

Last night I got a couple of texts that the northern lights were out. By the time I got to the beach here in northern lower Michigan, they had died back to a soft arc on the horizon. Up on the Keweenaw however, they were pretty spectacular!

In addition to being spectacular, Eric’s photos introduced me to a new northern lights term, the mysterious proton arc or proton aurora. which NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day explains in this link filled post (picture is below):

What are auroras made out of? Triggered by solar activity, normal auroras are caused by collisions between fast-moving electrons and the oxygen and nitrogen in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The electrons come from the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. As the excited oxygen and nitrogen molecules return to their low energy state, they emit light, seen as the auroral glow.

Sometimes, however, auroras can be caused by collisions with heavier protons, causing a more energetic display with strong ultraviolet emission. In addition, protons can temporarily capture an electron and emit light for themselves. Such a proton aurora is seen above, recorded by the IMAGE satellite. A special feature is the bright spot near picture center, embedded in a ring of auroral emission around the north magnetic pole of planet Earth.

Most solar wind protons never reach the Earth to cause auroras because they are completely deflected away at a great distance by the Earth’s magnetic field. The bright spot in the auroral ring indicates a particularly deep crack in the Earth’s magnetic field where protons were able to flow along a temporarily connected region between the Sun and the Earth, relatively undeflected, until they impacted the Earth’s ionosphere.

Read on for lots more. The good news? It looks like the wide coronal hole that was responsible for last night’s aurora will continue to kick out the celestial jams for a couple of days, meaning this weekend offers a great chance to see the northern lights in Michigan!

View Eric’s photo bigger and see more in his 9-1-16: Northern Lights IX slideshow.

Much more about the northern lights / aurora borealis on Michigan in Pictures!

Photo courtesy NASA:

Proton Arc Nasa

50 Shades of Blue

50 Shades of Blue

50 Shades of Blue, photo by John Hill Photography

A simply gorgeous shot of Au Sable Point and the Au Sable Light Station in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

View this photo background big on Twitter and definitely follow John on Instagram!

Scenic vista at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Scenic vista at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Scenic vista at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, photo by Craig Sterken Photography

Craig writes “My wife and I hiked in the Beaver Basin area for the first time and discovered our new favorite hike. What a great place to swim after walking through the woods in 87 degree weather!

Can’t see how it could get much better!! View Craig’s photo bigger on Facebook and view & purchase his work at craigsterken.com.

Rainbow Falls and the Waterfalls of the Black River

Rainbow Falls Ottawa National Forest

Rainbow Falls, Ottawa National Forest, photo by John McCormick

GoWaterfalling’s page on the Waterfalls of the Black River Scenic Byway explains that this section of the river is Michigan’s waterfall alley:

The Black River Scenic Byway is located in the western corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Dedicated in 1992 as a National Forest Scenic Byway, it starts just north of Bessemer Michigan and ends at the Black River Harbor in the Ottawa National Forest, following the Black River on its way towards Lake Superior.

Along the way it passes five main waterfalls, as well as some minor ones. The five main waterfalls are all located on the last three miles of the river before it reaches Lake Superior.

The waterfalls are Great Conglomerate Falls (profiled last week), Potawatomi, Gorge, Sandstone, and Rainbow Falls which is:

the last of the main falls on the Black River before it enters Lake Superior…The waterfall has carved out a large pothole. Most of the river falls into the pothole, but some of the water, depending on how high the river is, goes around or jumps clear over this hole.

Head over to GoWaterfalling for more pics, directions, and info about the falls in the area.

Check out John’s photo bigger, see more in his Michigan Waterfalls slideshow, and definitely follow John’s Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook for lots more like this shot of nearby Gabbro Falls, also on the Black River!

Many more Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!

Torch Lake is pretty big

Torch Lake by James Kral

Torch Lake, photo by James Kral

I figured I should follow up Thursday’s Torch Lake photo with more about the lake that is both Michigan’s longest and deepest inland lake. Wikipedia’s Torch Lake entry says (in part):

Torch Lake at 19 miles (31 km) long is Michigan’s longest inland lake and at approximately 18,770 acres (76 km²) is Michigan’s second largest inland lake … Several villages and hamlets lie along its shore, including Alden, Eastport, Clam River, and Torch Lake. The lake is about 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Traverse City and is separated by narrow strips of land from both Grand Traverse Bay on the northwest and Elk Lake at the southwest end. The lake is about two miles (3.2 km) wide and is centered at 44°59′00″N 85°18′30″W. It has a maximum depth of 315 feet (96 m) just off the east end of Campbell Rd. (Milton Twp.) and an average depth of 111 feet (34 m), making it Michigan’s deepest inland lake. It is a popular lake for fishing, featuring lake trout, rock bass, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, Pike, ciscoes, brown trout, rainbow trout, and whitefish.

The name of the lake is not due to its shape, rather, is derived from translation from the Ojibwa name Was-wa-gon-ong meaning “Place of the Torches”, referring to the practice of the local Native American population who once used torches at night to attract fish for harvesting with spears and nets. For a time it was referred to by local European settlers as “Torch Light Lake”, which eventually was shortened to its current name.

View James’ photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More Michigan lakes and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Chapel Rock Revisit

Chapel Revisit by Rudy Malmquist

Chapel Revisit, photo by Rudy Malmquist

View Rudy’s shot from August of 2014 background bigtacular and see more including a nice pic of nearby Spray Falls in his slideshow.

Lots more about Chapel Rock on Michigan in Pictures.

Waterfall Wednesday: Great Conglomerate Falls on the Black River

Great Conglomerate Falls

Great Conglomerate Falls, photo by Gray McCormick

GoWaterfalling’s entry on Great Conglomerate Falls says (in part):

The first of the five main waterfalls on the Black River. This waterfall is named for the large piece of conglomerate rock that divides the two segments. It is hard to see all of this waterfall at once, but that is no reason not to visit.

Great Conglomerate Falls is the first of the five main waterfalls on the Black River Scenic Byway. Here the river slides down 20 feet around a large chunk of conglomerate rock, hence the name of the falls. It is hard to get a picture of the full waterfall from the observation area. The two segments of the waterfall are pictured separately below plus a composited image of the entire falls.

Read on for directions and info about other nearby falls!

View Gary’s photo background big and see more in his Black River slideshow.

More Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!