Michigan is lucky to have designated areas that host spectacular nighttime viewing. Dark sky parks and preserves have a limited amount of artificial light, making it easier to stargaze in those locations. Dark sky preserves are designated by Michigan legislature and dark sky parks are designated by the International Dark Sky Association. The six state parks that have dark sky preserves are:
And if that’s not enough, there is also plenty of excellent night-sky viewing opportunities across more than 15,000 square miles in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For more details, visit Michigan.gov/DarkSky.
The family Phengodidae are uncommonly encountered beetles that have bioluminescent females that appear to be larvaiform (or larger versions of the immature stage.) These adult females are able to produce light from paired photic organs located on each body segment (one glowing spot on each side) and sometimes also from luminous bands that extend across the dorsal surface of the body between each body segment. Because these glowing spots along the females body resemble the windows of train cars internally illuminated in the night, they are often referred to as “railroad-worms.”
…Even though females appear to hide in their burrows during the day, they can often be detected on the surface of the ground by their glowing, immediately following a summer rain. Even though the females are bioluminescent, the females light emission does not appear to be the cue that the males use to locate their mates.
Fishtown is located where there once was a natural fish ladder on these traditional Native American fishing grounds. It is one of only few commercial fishing villages still operating today in Michigan. The Native Americans called this spot Mishi-me-go-bing, or alternatively Che-ma-go-bing or Chi-mak-a-ping, meaning “the place where canoes run up into the river to land, because they have no harbor.”
French Canadian millwright, Antoine Manseau, along with his family, are thought to be among some of the first whites to settle here. They came from North Manitou Island in 1853. The following year Manseau and his family, along with John Miller, built the dam at Fishtown. It raised the water level in the river and in Lake Leelanau by as much as an astonishing 12 feet. Since the dam prevented boat traffic from going back and forth in their daily business, launches were, and still are provided on both sides of the dam.
I’ve never spent much time in Grand Rapids, but I have seen photos of this striking bridge across the Grand River. I wanted to capture the river as the sun went down. I love watching how quickly light can change. These three photos, all very different, were taken within 15-20 minutes of each other on Saturday, 6 March 2021. The photo above is the third in the series, taken at night with most of the light in the image now comes from the lights on the bridge, hotel windows and street lights.
Image 1: Just at sunset, you can see the warm tones from the last light on the buildings
Image 2: Blue hour – the sky almost balances the surface of the river perfectly
This will probably be my last pic for a little while from the Straits. Just couldn’t pass up Shelby’s shot! She writes: A frozen Lake Michigan provided the dramatic icy foreground for the Mighty Mac! I ‘m always in awe over the ever-changing and fascinating ways ice forms, cracks, and shifts. And when it is crystal clear like this – it just adds an entirely new dimension!
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.