Neil captured this stunning shot of the galactic core of our Milky Way stretching across the night sky over Silver Lake Sand Dunes during a recent visit. Head over to neilweaverphotography.com or follow him on Facebook for more great pics!
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.
More meteoric fun on Michigan in Pictures!
Space.com’s article on September’s Full Corn Moon says in part:
Look up tonight (Sept. 6) to see the Full Corn Moon glowing in the sky. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see the planet Neptune glowing faintly nearby.
The moon reached its fullest phase early this morning, at 3:02 a.m. EDT (0702 GMT), but it will still appear full to casual observers this evening. Look for it in the southern sky in the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer.
Usually, the full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon, but this year that name is reserved for October’s full moon. That’s because the Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept. 22 this year.
Lots more about the moon on Michigan in Pictures.
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.”
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!
Much more about the northern lights / aurora borealis on Michigan in Pictures!
Photo courtesy NASA:
This wonderful photo made me want to know more about Houghton, Michigan, so here’s an edited profile of Houghton via Wikipedia:
Houghton is located on the south shore of Portage Lake, across from Hancock. (see map) Native Americans mined copper in and around what would later be Houghton thousands of years before European settlement. French explorers had noted its existence in the area as early as the seventeenth century, and in 1772 Alexander Henry had prospected for copper on the Ontonagon River near Victoria. When Horace Greeley said, “Go West, young man” he wasn’t referring to gold, but rather the copper rush in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula.
The city is named after Douglass Houghton, physician-naturalist on Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s Lake Superior expedition whose 1841 report on the quantity and superior qualities of UP copper earned him the title of “father of copper mining in the United States.” The news brought many Cornish and Finnish immigrants to the area, along with smaller numbers of French-Canadian immigrants arrived in Houghton (or Copper Island as they called it) to work in the copper mines. These groups have had and continue to have a great influence on the area’s culture and cuisine.
In Houghton’s first days it was said that “only thieves, crooks, murderers and Indians” lived there. The post Civil War boom and increasing demand for copper wiring fueled the development of Houghton in the 1860s and 1870s. The Keweenaw Waterway, a dredging and extension of the Portage Lake, the Portage Shipping Canal and Lily Pond that turned the northern part of the Keweenaw Peninsula into “Copper Island” was completed in 1873. By 1880 Houghton had become “a burgeoning city” and in 1883, the railroad was extended from Marquette.
The last nearby mines closed in the late 1960s, but in 1885 the Michigan State Legislature foundedthe Michigan College of Mines to teach metallurgy and mining engineering. The school continues today as Michigan Technological University – the primary employer in the city.
Houghton has the distinction of being the birthplace of professional ice hockey in the United States when the Portage Lakers were formed in 1903, and Houghton’s Dee Stadium (formerly the Amphidrome) is the home of the Portage Lake Pioneers Senior Hockey Team.
Click for more from Wikipedia and please feel free to share tidbits in the comments.
More Houghton on Michigan in Pictures.
What can you say about an astonishing photo like this? Heather writes:
I went to Frankfort a couple nights ago to shoot the Milky Way at the lighthouse. As I walked out the long pier in the darkness, I passed two groups of swimmers heading home (at 11:30), and then had the entire thing to myself for over an hour. Just enough haze hung in the air to create the light rays from the lighthouse, and the waves splashed just high enough to douse the outside edge of the wall. The setting crescent moon balancing out the south breakwall light was a nice bonus.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to purchase this photo!
More about the Frankfort North Breakwater Light including another nighttime shot by Heather on Michigan in Pictures.
Definitely watch Ken’s Perseid video at the end!
I’ve shared this before, but Space.com has an interesting story about how the upcoming Perseid Meteor shower (peak August 11-13) came to be known as “The Tears of St. Lawrence” and also some of the science behind this annual August sky show:
Laurentius, a Christian deacon, is said to have been martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out: “I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.”
The saint’s death was commemorated on his feast day, Aug. 10. King Phillip II of Spain built his monastery place the “Escorial,” on the plan of the holy gridiron. And the abundance of shooting stars seen annually between approximately Aug. 8 and 14 have come to be known as St. Lawrence’s “fiery tears.”
…We know today that these meteors are actually the dross of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Discovered back in 1862, this comet takes approximately 130 years to circle the Sun. With each pass, it leaves fresh debris — mostly the size of sand grains with a few peas and marbles tossed in.
Every year during mid-August, when the Earth passes close to the orbit of Swift-Tuttle, the bits and pieces ram into our atmosphere at approximately 37 miles per second (60 kps) and create bright streaks of light.
Read on for more including diagrams and viewing tips.
Ken Scott captured these Perseid meteors last August over a 2 1/2 hour period at the D.H. Day Farm in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He says that the barn is lit by rogue lightning and that this is a composite of many meteor images, where each photo is rotated around the north star so that the ‘point of origin’ of the shower can be seen better. He understands it visually but not scientifically – anyone have a simple explanation for him?