Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks this Weekend!

Starry Night by Steven Karsten

The annual Orionid shower peaks this Saturday, but Earthsky’s page on the Orionid Meteor shower says that Friday night might be the best viewing:

The Orionid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend, though this year, in 2018, the shower must compete with the glare of the brilliant waxing gibbous moon for much of the night. As is standard for many meteor showers, this shower takes place primarily between midnight and dawn – regardless of your time zone. Typically, the Orionids’ strongest showing comes during the few hours before dawn. offering perhaps 10 to 15 meteors per hour in a dark sky.

The advantage of watching late Friday to Saturday morning – rather than the following nights – is that there is less moonlight to obstruct the show.

The Orionids stem from bits and pieces from the most famous of all comets, Comet Halley, pictured above. The picture shows Comet Halley itself at its 1910 visit. The comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061.

As Comet Halley moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, every year. The comet is nowhere near, but, around this time every year, Earth is intersecting the comet’s orbit.

If the meteors originate from Comet Halley, why are they called the Orionids? The answer is that meteors in annual showers are named for the point in our sky from which they appear to radiate. The radiant point for the Orionids is in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter. Hence the name.

View Steve’s photo of Orion taken during the 2012 Geminid showers on Flickr and see more of his night photography on Flickr!

More meteoric fun on Michigan in Pictures!

 

New Wolves Released at Isle Royale

Little Hawk Island Sunset, photo by Carl TerHaar

mLive reports that a pair of new wolves have been released on Isle Royale in an effort to control a exploding moose population that threatens to overwhelm one of Michigan’s most unique ecosystems.

Late Wednesday, two gray wolves were taken from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in Minnesota and taken aboard a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plane to the island.

The wolves, a 4-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, were taken to separate release sites, and well away from the island’s two remaining wolves.

“It did not take long for the female to leave the crate and begin exploring her new home on the island. The male left his crate after dark,” the NPS said in a release.

“Other wolves will join the two in the coming weeks.”

Up to 30 wolves are expected to be caught in Minnesota, Michigan’s U.P. and even Ontario, Canada as part of this relocation effort.

Click through for more and their awesome video of the release!

Carl took this in late September of 2009. View it background big and see more in his massive Isle Royale album.

PS: Get an idea of the sheer amazingness of Isle Royale with 350+ more photos from Isle Royale in the Absolute Michigan group on Flickr at the Isle Royale tag on Michigan in Pictures, and at the  Isle Royale National Park website!

Last Blast of Summer!

Last Blast of Summer, photo by paula liimatta

Did you get all your summertime fun in? If not, get on that before it’s gone!

Paula took this a year ago at Blackrocks in Marquette’s Presque Isle Park. View it background bigtacular and see more in her Summer 2017 album on Flickr.

More Summer Wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Say a little prayer for Aretha

Say a Little Prayer… by Tom Hughes

“From the time that Dinah Washington first told me that Aretha was the ‘next one’ when she was 12 years old until the present day, Aretha Franklin set the bar upon which every female singer has and will be measured. And she did it with the professionalism, class, grace and humility that only a true Queen could. I treasured every moment that we spent together from working in the recording studio, to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or simply hanging in the kitchen, and I will miss her dearly. RIP Ree-Ree. You will reign as the Queen forever.”
-musician & producer Quincy Jones

Aretha Franklin, the unquestioned Queen of Soul, has passed away. Her career spanned 6 decades and in that time she won 18 Grammy awards and such honors as the Presidential Medal Of Freedom and membership in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame & the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

I really liked The Guardian’s Aretha Franklin photo gallery , Rolling Stone’s list of Aretha’s 50 best songs and their article about her multi-level impact as an artist are both excellent, and you can see what folks are saying about Aretha on Twitter.

View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Detroit photo album.

Here’s Aretha singing Amazing Grace <3

Walking on the Moon: The Apollo Capsule in Grand Rapids

Now That Was Just Weird by Daniel E Johnson

July 20th is 49th anniversary of our first steps on the moon. The Mix 95.7 Grand Rapids tells the story of the Apollo capsule in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

It turns out that the capsule is an actual Apollo Capsule, but it wasn’t a capsule that sat atop an Apollo Rocket. The capsule was made for training astronauts. But don’t let that news get you down, the capsule still has quite the history to it!

This type of capsule is known as a “Boilerplate” … built, along with dozens of other capsules, in the 1960s to test various systems on the Apollo Rockets. 

BP-1227 was lost at sea in early 1970 during a routine training drill to recover the Apollo boilerplate capsule by UK-based naval units. Later that same year, the capsule that was lost was miraculously recovered by a Russian “fishing vessel.” Many believe that the fishing vessel was actually a spy boat that was tracking the capsule as part of an intelligence operation.

The capsule was taken back to Russia and in late 1970 the Russians invited the Americans to recover their capsule. On September 8th, 1970 the US Navy Icebreaker, Southwind, made a stop in Murmansk to recover BP-1227. This was the first visit to a Soviet port by a US military vessel since World War II.

After the capsule was returned, the Smithsonian Institution spent the next several years restoring BP-1227 before it was eventually given on loan to the City of Grand Rapids in 1976. The boilerplate capsule was dedicated to the people of Grand Rapids on December 31, 1976. Students from local high schools filled BP-1227 with everyday items from their lives to form a time capsule. The time capsule was sealed on the last day of our nation’s Bicentennial year and it is to be opened on July 4th, 2076, as our nation celebrates its Tricentennial.

Read on for more. About the photo, Daniel wrote: We had a huge, odd cloud float over Grand Rapids today. Wednesday October 1st, 2008. HDR from one exposure shot in raw and split out three times , re-compiled in Photomatix.

See more in his HDR gallery.

The Firefly Boom of 2018

Faerie by Brian Laskowski

The Great Lakes Echo shared a feature from Great Lakes Today entitled Ideal Conditions for Firefly Boom. It says (in part):

Whether you call it a lightning bug or a firefly or perhaps by its scientific name, Lampyridae, chances are you’ve had some experience with the tiny flying insect that flashes and blinks its way through summer evenings.

And if you’ve been noticing more fireflies in your backyard this summer, you’re not alone.

“A lot of people are enjoying it and I’m thrilled that people are enjoying it,” says Sara Lewis, an evolutionary biologist at Tufts University in Boston, and writer of the book “Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies.”

“As firefly scientists, we’re just trying to understand it.”

Lewis says the first thing you have to know about fireflies is that they live underground for two years before they hatch into the blinking bugs we associate with this season. And, she says, they love wet conditions, like those in the spring of 2017.

“Those were great conditions for baby fireflies, called larvae, because they live underground and they feed on earthworms and snails and slugs so those wet conditions mean that more are surviving.”

That wet soil also makes it easier for eggs to hatch, larva to metamorphose, and adults to lay eggs for future generations — which could explain why the population seems to be booming.

Read on for more including the fact that fireflies remain threatened and how you can help reduce the threat!

Brian took this in the Maple River State Game Area. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in his Michiganscape album on Flickr!

Lots more summer wallpaper for your computer background!

Happy 131st Birthday to Michigan’s Best Porch!

Mackinac Bridge from the Grand Porch, photo by Marilyn Bogle

Happy 131st Birthday to The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island which opened on July 10, 1887. Here’s some historical highlights about Michigan’s most iconic hotel:

1887 Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. Rates are $3 to $5 a night.

1890s Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – longest in the world—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.

1895 Mark Twain lectures in the Grand Hotel Casino. Admission: $1.

1897 The West Wing is added to the hotel.

Turn of the century – The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s.

1919 Hotel rates: $6 a day per person.

1935 A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.

1947 This Time For Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams is filmed on the island and at Grand Hotel.

1960 Grand Hotel owner W. Stewart Woodfill appoints R.D. (Dan) Musser president of Grand Hotel.

1976 Musser and wife Amelia begin the redesign of the hotel’s interior and exterior with the help of architect Richard Bos and decorator Carleton Varney.

1979 The Mussers purchase Grand Hotel.

1980 Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, is released.

1989 The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.

View Marilyn’s photo background bigilicious and see more in her Mackinac album.

More Grand Hotel and more Mackinac Island on Michigan in Pictures!