2019’s Biggest Supermoon Flies Tonight!

Super Moon Muskegon Michigan, photo by The Shutter Affair

EarthSky, which by the way is a fantastic website for anyone who wants to get more out of the night sky that’s in great need of your support, has this to say about tonight’s supermoon, which will be the largest of 2019:

This year’s February presents the biggest full moon supermoon of 2019. From around the world, the moon will look plenty full to the eye on both February 18 and February 19 as it parades across the nighttime sky. It reaches the crest of its full phase on February 19 for much of the world. What’s a supermoon? It’s a popularized term for what astronomers call a perigean full moon. In other words, it’s a full moon near perigee, or closest to Earth for this month. This February 2019 full moon reaches its exact full phase closer to the time of perigee than any other full moon this year. Hence the year’s closest supermoon.

Will you be able to discern with your eye that this full moon is larger than an ordinary full moon? Experienced observers say they can do it, but – for most of us – the difference is too small for the eye to notice.

…here are other factors that make a supermoon special. For example, if you look outside tonight – assuming your sky is clear – you might be able to discern with your eye that the landscape is more brightly lit than usual by moonlight. Supermoons are substantially brighter than ordinary full moons.

Also, the moon’s gravity affects earthly tides, and a supermoon – full moon closest to Earth – pulls harder on Earth’s oceans than an ordinary full moon. That’s why supermoons create higher-than usual tides, which tend to come a day or two after the full moon.

By the way, that bright star accompanying the February supermoon is none other than Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion.

More at EarthSky & definitely consider helping to support EarthSky at helpsupportearthsky.org!

Julia took this photo of December of 2017 in Muskegon, Michigan. View it bigger, see more in her Lighthouse photo album, and also on her blog!

Much more about the Moon and about supermoons on Michigan in Pictures!

Cracking Ice

cracking-ice

Cracking Ice, photo by Jerry James Photography

Jerry writes: As I stood on the Ice waiting for the sun to set ( we was 1 1/2 hours early ) I could here all the ice around me cracking. talk about being paranoid, I wasn’t out to deep but it was still pretty cold and I wasn’t dressed to get wet. but everything ended good though, I stayed dry.

Always a good idea to be careful and know what’s below you when the temperatures rise.

View his photo from Muskegon bigger, see more in his slideshow, and follow Jerry James Photography on Facebook.

Haunted Michigan: The Dogman

Nightmare at Muskegon State Park II

Nightmare at Muskegon State Park II, photo by otisourcat

When legends are way back in the past, they aren’t as scary. This one isn’t, and the fact that many of the sightings take place in my own backyard make me reluctant to share it. So, reluctantly, via Steve Cook’s Michigan-Dogman.com, I give you a Dogman tale from Oceana County, Michigan in 2005. Italics are the notes from Cook to the witness’s account.

Most dogman encounters are very brief, and usually rather benign. Very few witnesses have ever had more than a single encounter (a fact which makes most of them quite grateful). Our next event is unique in that the witnesses shared repeated encounters in a very narrow window of time. All of these events took place in Oceana County in Michigan’s Lower Peninisula. The contributor wishes to remain anonymous.

“The first incident happened while I was home alone. I had moved my bed into my closet to further open up my room. My dog was in there with me and we were getting ready for bed. Then my dog began to growl, which was very unusual. He never growls. I had maybe heard him growl or bark twice in his entire ten years of life. This growl was so fierce and mean that it actually made me scared. He was looking up at the ceiling and his hair was standing on end.

Then I heard it. It was loud, like something big was walking across the roof. There was snorting and light growls, so at first I feared that a bear had wandered into the area. I tried to keep my dog quiet, but he was shaking and going wild. There was a lot of scratching, like something was trying to dig through the roof – then it was gone, suddenly and without warning. A few minutes later my uncle arrived, I rushed out to tell him the story, he looked around but found nothing. He tried to pass it off as a raccoon. Let me tell you – there is no way on earth that a raccoon could have caused that reaction from my dog or made that much noise.”

A few weeks later, the witness had convinced herself that her uncle was probably correct. She had a friend spending the night, and they decided to camp out in the yard. They built a small campfire in a firepit, and were sitting next to it talking. Hearing a sound, they looked toward the woods. Just beyond the light cast by the fire…

“Something was walking out there. The features were canine; legs were shaped like a wolf, bushy tail, everything. But, it was way too tall to be a regular dog or even a wolf, it stood a bit higher than a deer and it was very thin. I only caught the back end of it walking behind a lilac bush, but it was enough for me. I calmly told my friend that we needed to go inside. I told her to walk slowly, since I live in the middle of no mans land, I know that wild animals are attracted to fast moving objects, and the last thing I wanted was to get up close and personal with whatever that thing was.”

Safely back inside, they talked about what they had seen. Whatever it was had seemed more curious than threatening. Later that same night, that assessment would change.

“…we were having a cigarette out my window, and my friend dropped hers. She put a chair up to the window and crawled out. She walked a few steps, paused, looked back at me. “Did you hear that?” she asked. I hadn’t heard anything, but apparently, she had heard rustling from the field beside her. Then we both heard it, a very close and very loud snarl. It was like nothing I have ever heard before and hope to never hear again. No animal that I know of sounds or looks like that. “

Lots more available from The Legend of Michigan’s Dogman including a 1961 encounter in Big Rapids that includes a purported photo of the Dogman! There’s also a DVD you can purchase that’s pretty cool. Best of all, proceeds have raised over $60,000 for charities, primarily those involved in domestic animal rescue, rehabilitation, and placement in permanent homes.

Wikipedia explains that the Michigan Dogman is a cryptozoological creature first reported in 1887 in Wexford County. Sightings have been reported in several locations throughout Michigan, primarily in the northwestern quadrant of the Lower Peninsula. In 1987, the legend of the Michigan Dogman gained popularity when a disc jockey at WTCM-FM (Steve Cook) recorded a song about the creature and its reported sightings.

You should also check out Linda Godfrey’s writings about the Dogman from her books including Weird Michigan, and also my buddy Rick Brauer’s movie Dogman and Dogman 2: Wrath of the Litter.

Muskegon County borders Oceana to the south, and has had its own Dogman sightings. View the photo bigger and see more of otisourcat’s Muskegon photos.

Happy Halloween everyone! More ghost stories & haunted tales on Michigan in Pictures!

Waterspout at Muskegon State Park

Lake-Michigan-Waterspout Muskegon Beach

Waterspout at Muskegon State Park, photo by Joe Gee Photography

Summer of 2015 has definitely featured some wild weather. Photographer Joe Gee captured this dramatic photo last Monday at Muskegon State Park. mLive featured Joe’s waterspout photo along with an explanation of the phenomenon by meteorologist Mark Torregrossa:

This is the waterspout season on the Great Lakes, but tonight’s waterspout did not occur in the classic waterspout weather pattern.

Waterspouts form mostly due to a large temperature difference between the water surface and the air a few thousand feet above. So the classic waterspout weather pattern would have a large, cold upper level storm system moving over the Great Lakes. That storm system is still well to our west, and won’t pass through until Wednesday.

This waterspout still most likely formed due to a temperature difference between the water and the air. The cold air aloft wasn’t really detectable because it was so isolated.

The other weather feature probably contributing to the development of this waterspout was a lake breeze or even possibly an “outflow boundary” from another storm. The lake breeze blows a different wind direction into the storm and can cause additional rotation. An outflow boundary coming off another thunderstorm can do the same thing.

So this waterspout is a less threatening rotation as compared to a tornado. Usually these waterspouts dissipate before they come onshore.

This time of year is the typical time for waterspouts because of two weather features. First, the Great Lakes water temperatures are usually warmest right now. Secondly, we have to mention the word fall. Cooler, fall-like air starts to move in at this time of year. The temperature difference is largest now through September.

You can purchase a print right here and follow Joe and his work at joegeephotography.com and on Facebook.

More wild weather on Michigan in Pictures!

Sunset at Muskegon Lighthouse

Sunset at Muskegon Lighthouse

Sunset at Muskegon Lighthouse, photo by Amie Lucas

Lighthouse Friends’ page on the Muskegon South Pier Light begins:

The name ‘Muskegon’ comes from the Ottawa Indian term ‘Masquigon,’ meaning “marshy river or swamp,” and refers to the Muskegon River that expands into Muskegon Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan. Settlement on the shores of Lake Muskegon began in 1837 with the establishment of Muskegon Township. Nicknamed the ‘Lumber Queen of the World,’ Muskegon was home to more millionaires than any other town in America during the late 1800s, when its lumber helped rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871.

In August 1838, Lieutenant James T. Homans visited the river and included the following in a report to the Secretary of the Treasury:

Muskegon river, on lake Michigan, came next under my observation, it is a large stream, opening, within half a mile of its outlet, into a considerable lake, eight miles long by four wide. The channel in, is wide and easy of access, and not less than twelve feet of water in it; making this harbor, in my estimation, the best on lake Michigan, all things considered. Its value as a safe haven, and the rich lumber trade in which it will soon be engaged, (three extensive steam saw-mills having been erected there,) entitle it to a light-house near the entrance. I selected a point, on the south side of the river’s mouth, as the best location, in the event of an appropriation being made for a light there.

On March 3, 1849, Congress set aside $3,500 for a lighthouse at the site selected by Homans, and in 1851 a one-and-a-half-story, rubblestone dwelling, surmounted by a wooden tower, was built. The dwelling measured thirty-six by eighteen feet, and the top of the tower stood twenty-six feet above the ground. Six lamps with fourteen-inch reflectors were originally used in the lantern room, but a sixth-order Fresnel lens replaced these in 1856. Alexander Wilson was hired as the light’s first keeper at an annual salary of $450.

Read on for lots more including photos.

View Aime’s photo background big on Facebook and see more Lake Michigan sunset goodness in A Muskegon Sunset at amielucasphotography.com.

There’s more lighthouses, more sunsets, more Lake Michigan and more Muskegon on Michigan in Pictures.

Lake Effect Snow Season in Michigan

Lake Effect 4794-09

Lake Effect 4794-09, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Many in Michigan are waking up to frigid temps, high wind and snow – the perfect conditions for lake effect snow. Meteorologist Robert J. Ruhf has an excellent article on Lake-Effect Precipitation in Michigan that explains lake effect snow and rain are common in Michigan, especially in late fall and early winter as cold polar air moves across the warmer Great Lakes. 

The unfrozen waters are relatively warm when compared with the temperature of the wintertime air mass. Therefore, the temperature of the air that comes into contact with the water increases. The warmed air expands and become less dense, which causes it to rise. This is an “unstable” situation. As the air rises, the temperature decreases until it reaches the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated.. Ice crystals or water droplets will then begin to collect until the force of gravity pulls them down. The result is “lake-effect” precipitation. When the cP air mass is very cold, as is often the case between December and February, the precipitation falls as snow. During late autumn, however, the polar air mass may be warm enough for the precipitation to fall in the form of rain.

“Lake-effect” precipitation can cause substantial intensification of snowfall amounts in very narrow bands, often referred to as “snow belts,” along the leeward (downwind) shores of the Great Lakes. The prevailing wind direction in the Great Lakes region is westerly; therefore, most “lake-effect” precipitation events occur to the east of the lakes.

…An interesting feature of “lake-effect” is that the heaviest bands of snow do not usually occur along the immediate shoreline, but tend to fall several miles inland. Snowfall accumulations are enhanced inland because the air experiences more uplift when it is forced over hills and higher terrain. 

Read on to learn lots more about lake effect snow in Michigan including four narrow bands  – Keweenaw Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, the Thumb and the southwest Lower Peninsula – where geographic features and the shape of the shoreline contribute to more intense snowfall. Hang on to your hats – winter is here!

Stacy took this photo of Lake Michigan from the North Muskegon shoreline in January of 2009. See it bigger and see more in her awesome Michigan BLUE Winter 2012 slideshow.

Need a winter background?