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.
Lots more northern lights on Michigan in Pictures!
Back in August of 2007, Linda & her husband took one of their many trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula & visiting Grand Marais, Ishpeming and Copper Harbor. She visited the Jasper Knob just outside of Ishpeming & writes:
It is a banded iron formation. The layers consist of jasper (the red rock) and hematite (the silvery rock). I’m delighted to tell you that some biogeologists believe that banded iron formations were formed by my old pals, the iron bacteria.
Head over to her photo blog for a lot more pictures and for sure check out her book They Breathe Iron for more about iron bacteria.
Sunrise overlooking Grand Sable Dunes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore seems like a glorious way to start the day. See more from John at michigannutphotography.com or on the Michigan Nut Facebook page & have a wonderful week!!
The Waterfall Record says that Kakabika Falls:
…is a series of small drops that adds up to a larger total. None of the drops are really that big. The largest drop might be 10′ at most (across a distance). So if you’re really into big waterfalls, Kakabika Falls will probably not be for you.
Kakabika Falls still has many redeeming qualities for those that don’t mind smaller waterfalls. First off, the falls are pretty easy to get to, requiring a short drive off of US-2. Second, the waterfall will probably be devoid of people. When I visited, nobody else was there. So if you want peace and quiet, this might be the place for you. Third, the short hike to the falls is amazing. When I visited, it had rained the night before, giving the hike to the falls a very “rain-forest” feeling, even though it’s not a rainforest. It was humid, and there were a lot of mosquitoes, so you’ll definitely want to wear bug spray! The most dangerous animals in Michigan aren’t the bears or cougars, but instead the really annoying mosquitoes and biting flies (not that they’re dangerous).
Head over to the Waterfall Record for directions.
Bill got some stunning photos of one of the wolves in a pack south of Amasa in the UP. He shared this & another in the Pure UP group on Facebook. Check it out! Bill also wrote an article last year about the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s plans to take wolves off the Endangered Species List in Michigan. This happened in January 2021 but it’s worth a read:
Michigan DNR wolf surveys indicate there is a minimum wolf population of 662 adult wolves. This is a minimum population since young of the year wolves are not surveyed.
Cody Norton, Michigan DNR Wolf Specialist said the average wolf litter is likely about four to six pups based on research in other similar states. Norton goes on to say in other studied wolf populations “up to 60 percent of the pups may die in the first six months due to disease and malnutrition.”
Norton stated, “The 2018 survey indicated there are 139 wolf packs in the U.P.” (mainland).
He went on to say the average U.P. pack was about five wolves. Norton continues, “Packs are typically comprised of a breeding pair, pups from the current year, offspring from previous litters, and occasionally other wolves that may or may not be related to the breeding pair.”
Norton said surveys indicate, “Wolf territories range in size from 5 to 291 square miles in the U.P., with an average of about 45 square miles. However, territory size has decreased over time, and the number of packs has stagnated, as the wolf population in the U.P. has increased.” Norton added “The U.P. wolf population appears to have been stable for the last eight years or so suggesting they’re likely nearing carrying capacity. This follows a long period of population growth from when we initially surveyed the first three known wolves in 1989 until 2011.”
…Regardless of how you feel about wolves, their population recovery in Michigan has been a success of a native species re-establishing itself. No matter what happens in terms of federal and state wolf management, residents of the Upper Peninsula will continue to live with wolves and will occasionally hear the howl of the wolf.
Shelby got an absolutely stunning shot of the aurora borealis on Saturday night on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Head over to ShelbyDiamondstar Photography on Facebook for more!
GoWaterfalling explains that Lower Tahquamenon Falls is part of:
…Tahquamenon Falls State Park on MI-123. It is on the map and is easy to find, but it is a bit out of the way. There are three sections to the park: the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls, and the rivermouth campsite.
The lower falls are a series of cascades, that go around a small island, with several drops in the 10 foot range. You can rent a boat and go to the island, and walk around and see more views of the falls. There is a campground near the lower falls, and a concession stand where you can buy ice cream, drinks and souvenirs.
There is a trail between the upper and the lower falls. It is 4+ miles, with some ups and downs, mostly through woods well above the river. The river is quite calm between the two falls, and there is not much rock to see.
I know that I just featured a photo from Dan of the Upper Falls, but this one from Saturday was too good to pass up! See more in Dan’s Michigan’s Upper Peninsula gallery on Flickr!
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.