Speed limits (and probably fatalities) going up in Michigan

September 13 – Stars and Cars Part 4, photo by Andrew Pastoor

I was on the fence about posting this, but after I found this cool photo I just had to! Michigan Radio reports that a new law directing the Michigan Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 75 miles an hour on up to 600 miles of rural highways in the state will have consequences:

Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says there’s decades of research proving that more people will die as a result. For every five miles’ increase in the speed limit on interstates and highways, says Rader, fatal crashes increase 8%.

He says Michigan is not alone; many other states are also raising speed limits. He says very high speeds cancel out the life-saving features on cars like seat belts and front air bags.

“In 2013 alone, speed limit increases resulted in about 1900 additional deaths,” says Rader. “That would essentially cancel out the number of lives saved that year from front air bags.”

Read on for more and get more about the law from mLive, It will go into effect following studies.

View the photo bigger and see more in Andrew’s Project 365 | 2014 slideshow,

Storming the Harbors of Darkness: DH Day Barn Edition

Night and DH Day Barn

Night and DH Day Barn, photo by Heather Higham

This shot of the iconic D.H. Day barn in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from a couple of days ago is beautiful, dramatic and … wrong. While the orange looks cool against the deep blue, it’s a very visible reminder that our night skies suffer from serious light pollution, even in our most preserved spaces. I encourage everyone to learn about night-sky friendly outdoor lighting options and to advocate in your community for better lighting decisions.

On a less preachy note, if you’re in the Traverse City/Sleeping Bear area tonight, the National Lakeshore is hosting the latest in their “Find Your Park After Dark” night sky events from 9-11 PM at the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive #3 Overlook. They write:

All sky programs offered by the National Lakeshore are free. Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun. Programs will be cancelled if the sky is not visible due to weather conditions. The decision to cancel is usually made three hours in advance. Please call 231-326-4700, ext. 5005, for a voicemail message with the decision. For all evening astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed. Park rangers and Grand Traverse Astronomical Society (GTAS) staff will wear red glow bracelets at the events.

Each special event takes place at a different location throughout the National Lakeshore to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities. You can come for star-gazing, eclipses, meteor showers, solar viewing, and storytelling. These events are the perfect opportunity to Find Your Park in the stars. Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects. National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource.

“Harbors of darkness” – what a cool turn of phrase! Head over to the National Lakeshore’s website for more about this and upcoming events.

Over at her blog, the Rapid City Recess, Heather writes about her experience shooting at night with two other photographers – I encourage you to read it.

View Heather’s photo bigger, see more in her Night Sky slideshow and definitely follow her at Snap Happy Gal on Facebook!

More night photography and more Michigan barns on Michigan in Pictures.

Night Mill: Dundee’s Old Mill Museum

Night Mill

Night Mill, photo by The Ottolab

The Old Mill Museum is Dundee’s historical museum. Their history page says that over the years, it has served as a grist mill, hydro-electric power plant, Ford factory and fabricating factory.

The three-story frame mill as we know it was built in 1848-49 by Alfred Wilkerson, as a grist mill. The nearby dam had been constructed out of logs in 1846.

The building is of Greek Revival design, popular in Monroe County in the 1840s. “It is compact, geometric and of exquisite proportion,” according to the community’s Sesquicentennial Book, published in 1974.

The windows are double-hung with multiple lights. The exterior doors are divided horizontally (Dutch) and the overall design is symmetrical.

Hand-hewn beams, 10×10 inches for the main columns, support the building. The roof, floors and other connections were made with oak pegs. No longer existing are two smaller additions at the rear of the mill which were used to store flour barrels and milling tools during the building’s grist mill days.

Read on for much more.

View the Ottolab’s night exposure of the mill background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

Into the cold clear night with Shawn Malone … and NASA

Shawns Comet

Comet Pan-Starrs over Headlands International Dark Sky Park, photo by Shawn Malone/Lake Superior Photo

Michigan in Pictures regular Shawn Malone of Lake Superior Photo is one of the best photographers of the Michigan night sky around, and on the evening of November 22nd , you have a chance to learn from her at a Night Sky Workshop. She writes:

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a wonderful place to discover the magic of night sky photography, due to the abundance of easily accessible dark sky locations. These night sky workshops are designed for those looking for a basic understanding of the equipment and technique necessary for capturing the night sky.

Photography workshops will take place at LakeSuperiorPhoto- gallery/studio on 211 S. Front, Marquette Mi. 49855. There will be an hour class at the studio where I will cover techniques for capturing night sky photos, from basic camera set up and settings, to a brief discussion of post processing to helpful websites and software to help you come away with great night sky photos.

During this workshop we will concentrate on the techniques necessary to capture low light and night sky photos. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we have a chance to photograph the stars or maybe even possibly the northern lights. No matter what weather conditon – we will conduct the workshop and you will come away with everything you need to know about capturing great night sky images.

She has 4 spaces left – click here to register!

You can purchase this photo of Comet Panstars at Lake Superior Photo. Be sure to follow her at Lake Superior Photo on Facebook and see more of Shawn’s photos on Michigan in Pictures.

Speaking of comets, NASA’s Rosetta Mission is going to go all Bruce Willis on a comet THIS MORNING! EarthSky reports:

The Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014 at 10:35 a.m. EST (15:35 UTC). We on Earth – 300 million miles (500 million km) away – won’t know the lander has set down successfully until a signal is received back at about 11:02 a.m. EST (16:02 UTC). Both NASA and ESA will provide live online coverage of this first-ever attempted landing on a comet.

Rosetta spacecraft will do the equivalent of transferring an object from one speeding bullet to another, when it tries to place its Philae lander on its comet. Read more about the mission’s dramatic attempt to land on a comet here.

After landing, Philae will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface. It also will drill into the surface to study the composition and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies.

Philae can remain active on the surface for approximately two-and-a-half days. Its “mothership” – the Rosetta spacecraft – will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun for its July 2015 perihelion (closest point), and then moves away.

Click through for more and follow it live from NASA right here!

The Making of the Mackinac Bridge

Bridge_HDR2.jpg

Bridge HDR 2, photo by Allison Hopersberger

A calm night on the Straits of Mackinac, and Michigan’s signature bridge was looking fine!

I’ve posted a ton about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge here on Michigan in Pictures, but had never seen this excellent summary of how it came to be courtesy the Michigan Dept. of Transportation’s page on I-75 and the Straits of Mackinac:

The five-mile stretch of water separating Michigan’s two peninsulas, the result of glacial action some twelve thousand years ago, has long served as a major barrier to the movement of people and goods. The three railroads that reached the Straits of Mackinac in the early 1880s, the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway from the south, and the Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette from the north, jointly established the Mackinac Transportation Company in 1881 to operate a railroad car ferry service across the straits. The railroads and their shipping lines developed Mackinac Island into a major vacation destination in the 1880s.

Improved highways along the eastern shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula brought increased automobile traffic to the straits region starting in the 1910s. The state of Michigan initiated an automobile ferry service between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City in 1923 and eventually operated eight ferry boats. In peak travel periods, particularly during deer season, five mile backups and delays of four hours or longer became common at the state docks at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.

With increased public pressure to break this bottleneck, the Michigan legislature established a Mackinac Straits Bridge Authority in 1934, with the power to issue bonds for bridge construction. The bridge authority supported a proposal first developed in 1921 by Charles Evan Fowler, the bridge engineer who had previously promoted a Detroit-Windsor bridge. Fowler’s plans called for an island-hopping route from the city of Cheboygan to Bois Blanc, Round, and Mackinac islands, thence to St. Ignace, along a twenty-four-mile route. The Public Works Administration flatly rejected a request for loans and grants to implement this project.

A plan was then drawn up for a direct crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace, but they were again denied funds. In 1940, a plan was submitted for a suspension bridge with a main span of 4600 feet. This design was a larger version of the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State, a structure destroyed by high winds on November 7, 1940. Although the disaster delayed any further action, the activities of 1938-1940 nevertheless produced some important results. The bridge authority conducted a series of soundings and borings across the straits and built a causeway extending out 4200 feet from the St. Ignace shore. The Second World War ended any additional work, and the Legislature abolished the bridge authority in 1947.

William Stewart Woodfill, president of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, almost singlehandedly resuscitated the dream of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac. Woodfill formed the statewide Mackinac Bridge Citizens Committee in 1949 to lobby for a new bridge authority, which the legislature created in 1950. A panel of three prominent engineers conducted a feasibility study and made recommendations to the bridge authority on the location, structure, and design of the bridge.

The State Highway Department, which had just placed a $4.5 million ferryboat, Vacationland, into service at the straits in January 1952, remained hostile to the bridge plan. In April 1952, the Michigan legislature authorized the bridge authority to issue bonds for the project, choose an engineer, and proceed with construction. The authority selected David B. Steinman as the chief engineer in January 1953 and tried unsuccessfully to sell the bridge bonds in April 1953, but by the end of the year, the authority had sold the $99.8 million in revenue bonds needed to begin construction.

View Allison’s photo bigger and see LOTS more in her Mackinac Island slideshow!