Friday, November 30, 2012

First Winter Hike -- Post 2

Today I'll post a few more pictures from my hike in the Sable Falls area, as well as a movie that I compiled.  Today I"ll be leaving for my last show of the year:  the TV6 art show in Marquette.  It is always great to go to Marquette.  I not only like the town, but I get to spend time with my friends, Jimmy and Helen.

As for an update regarding the online rockhounding adventures, I did finish another segment and had good progress on the last segment that I'm editing for the first adventure.  This segment should not take as long to edit.  Then I'll continue with the segments of the second adventure.

But first I'll include a couple pictures of two custom agate windows that I finished and shipped this week.

A few of the photos that I did not include in the video....

Here is the video.  I must admit that I am good at framing photographs, but taking videos is not my strong point.  To take the video footage I had to take my glove off.  The 20 mph and cold temperatures made the chill factor temperatures in the teens -- which created a challenge to hold the camera.  Plus the snow flurries gathered in a couple of spots on the lens, but at least you can seemingly go on the hike with me. 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

First Winter Dunes Hike -- Post 1

I finally made myself get out and hike yesterday. It is hard to tell how much snow we have received during the last week because of all the blowing and drifting. In Grand Marais we have received less than most other northern U.P. locations, some of which have received a foot or more of snow. I would say that we have 3-4 inches with some drifts. There certainly is not enough snow yet to prevent me from driving over to Sable Falls, which is where I went late yesterday afternoon.

Before I get to the Sable area photos, I'll post a few update pictures of our new break wall. Apparently the crew is now done. Notice that there are two type of rock. The second crew used a lighter colored rock than did the first crew.

The darker rocks on the right do have some snow.

I guess the contractor is supposed to get their equipment out of Grand Marais and are waiting for appropriate weather to head out into Lake Superior.

From the Sable Falls parking lot, I headed toward the dunes.

The footbridge over Sable River...

Looking down stream...

Looking up stream...

Heading up into the dunes...


To be continued tomorrow....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All About the Sun

I have been trying to make myself get out to exercise these past few days, but I've just worked instead. I finished and mailed a couple of custom agate windows and, of course, worked on the online rockhounding adventures, which are coming along.  Thanks to everyone and their patience.  I had hoped to have had the project launched already, but it is taking longer than expected.  Even though I will be launching as a pilot program, it still has to meet my expectations in terms of its quality and ability to communicate information in an effective and entertaining manner.

I have a couple of slides left to finish the segment about the formation of the Universe. So for today's blog posting, I'll double dip and include information about our Sun. This is just a portion of the info that will be included in the online rockhounding adventure.

Facts about the Sun
-- The Sun makes up around 99.86% of the total mass that exists in our Solar System

-- The Sun is about 110 times wider than the Earth.

-- Only two elements make up 98 percent of the Sun's mass. The Sun is comprised of around 74% hydrogen and 24% helium. Heavier elements such as oxygen, carbon, iron and neon make up the remaining percentage.

-- It takes eight minutes for light emitted from the Sun to reach the Earth.

-- The Sun’s surface temperature is around 9941 degrees Fahrenheit (5500 degrees Celsius).

-- The distance of the Earth from the Sun is 92,960,000 miles (149,600,000 km).  Just for perspective, if you decided to go to the Sun and travelled at 1,000 miles per hour -- it would take you nearly 93,000 years to reach the sun.

-- Like most things in the Universe, the Sun rotates. Its rotation speed averages 4,468 miles per hour (7,189 km/hr). That is way faster than the Earth's rotation speed that at the equator is about 1,038 miles per hour (1,670 km/hr).

-- All of the parts of the Sun do not rotate at the same rate. There is differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it's as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth.

-- The Sun formed around 4.6 billion years ago and is not quite half way through its life cycle, which is expected to last another five billion years.

-- The Sun’s diameter is about 870,000 miles wide (1,400,129 km). 

-- The Sun is 333,000 times heavier than the Earth.

-- The Sun's power (about 386 billion billion megaWatts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.

Pictures from today's posting are from NASA's webpage

Data is from several sources including

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lake Superior Research

For today's blog posting I decided to search the Internet to see what information there is about research being done in the Lake Superior area.  I found this web site: published by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.  This group is a scientific organization made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds, as well as those with an interest in such research. Specifically, they
  • promote all aspects of large lakes research; and
  • communicate research findings through publications and meetings.
They have an annual meeting, publish a journal four times per year, and offer grants and scholarships to promote research.

On their web page, I searched specifically for information about Lake Superior.

Seasonal changes in Lake Superior’s water level have been thought to be related to changes in evaporation, but until recently, evaporation was only estimated or modeled. A researcher directly measured evaporation from the Stannard Rock light located 24 miles north of Marquette, MI (39 km), which is the farthest offshore of any lighthouse in the U.S.  Evaporation measurements were taken continuously for over two years. Surprisingly, during the summertime there was virtually no evaporation; all of the strong summertime solar energy was used to warm the large volume of Lake Superior’s water. In the winter, when solar energy was weak, evaporation was large with the energy supplied from the lake itself.  Since evaporation cools the water surface, this promotes ice cover (especially near-shore).   Though a better understanding of these physical controls, we will be in a better position to predict evaporation with climate change, and therefore better predict changes in water levels.

Toxins in Lake Superior Lake Trout
Toxaphene is a major contaminant in Lake Superior fish, even though this substitute for DDT was banned as an agricultural insecticide in 1985 in Canada and 1990 in the United States.

Scientists from both countries collaborated to examine how this chemical, which enters the lake mainly from atmospheric deposition, accumulates from lake water and sediments in top predator fish.

Toxaphene is a mix of up to 1,400 possible compounds, making it a challenge to measure. The study, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found that certain components of toxaphene become more and more concentrated as they are passed along the food chain from water to lake trout, magnified 10 million to 5 billion times.

Similar biomagnification occurs for toxaphene in other nearby lakes, such as the remote Siskiwit Lake on Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior, although absolute levels in the lake trout from Siskwit Lake are about 15 times lower than in Lake Superior. This may be because Lake Superior lake trout rely on forage fish as food, placing them higher up the food chain. Another possible factor is that the chemical may last longer in the cold, deep waters of Lake Superior.

Pollution Level Decrease Improves Eagle Population
In the 1970s, DDT decimated bald eagle reproduction along the shores of Lake Superior. In the 1980s, although conditions improved, DDT and PCBs still depressed these eagles' chances of successfully raising eaglets. But no more.

In the 1990s contaminant levels finally dropped to nearly insignificant amounts. Researchers believe that ecological factors such as food and weather are now more important than contaminants in determining how successful eagles are at reproducing.

Contaminant levels and reproductive rates were studied in eagles along the Wisconsin coast of Lake Superior in the 1990s. They measured concentrations of total PCBs and DDE (a metabolite of DDT) in the blood of nestling eagles, and monitored the number of eagle nests and eaglets produced.

They discovered that the contaminant levels in eaglets were similar to the levels found in other normal, healthy populations. The number of eagle nests along the Lake Superior shore in Wisconsin increased steadily from 15 to 24 per year throughout the study period, and the eagles' reproductive rate averaged 1.0 young produced per pair, which is typical of healthy eagle populations.

Photos used in this blog posting came from:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cassini Mission Update

I worked on the online rockhounding adventure all day yesterday and I am almost done with the pilot program draft of another segment. I should finish this third segment today. Then I'll start on the last segment of Adventure 1.

For today's blog posting I decided to check in with NASA's Cassini Mission. As previously reported, this spacecraft is exploring the gas giant planets.

The Cassini spacecraft took the above angled view of Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal.  The moon Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) appears as a small, bright speck in the lower left of the image.  The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 15, 2012. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers.

In the above image Saturn's moon Mimas peeps out from behind the larger moon Dione.
Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is near the bottom center of the image. Saturn's rings are also visible in the top right.   This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Dione (698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across). The image was taken on Dec. 12, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 377,000 miles (606,000 kilometers) from Mimas and approximately 56,000 miles (91,000 kilometers) from Dione.

In the above photo Saturn's moons Daphnis and Pan demonstrate their effects on the planet's rings. Daphnis (5 miles, or 8 kilometers across), on the left of the image, orbits in the Keeler Gap of the A ring. The moon's gravitational pull perturbs the orbits of the particles of the A ring forming the gap's edge and sculpts the edge into waves that move both in the ring's plane (radially) and out of the ring's plane.

Pan (17 miles, or 28 kilometers across), in the top right of the image, orbits in the Encke Gap of the A ring. The effects of that moon's gravity can be seen as dark wakes on the parts of the rings below Pan in the image, propagating towards the middle of the image.  The image was taken on June 3, 2010. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 329,000 miles (529,000 kilometers) from Saturn.

In this image Cassini looks over the heavily cratered surface of Rhea during the spacecraft's flyby of the moon on March 10, 2012. The image was taken at a distance of approximately 27,000 miles (43,000 kilometers).

In this picture the brightly reflective moon Enceladus appears before Saturn's rings while the larger moon Titan looms in the distance.  Jets of water ice and vapor emanating from the south pole of Enceladus (hinting at subsurface sea rich in organics), and liquid hydrocarbons ponding on the surface on the surface of Titan make these two of the most fascinating moons in the Saturnian system.

Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) is in the center of the image. Titan (3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers across) can faintly be seen in the background beyond the rings.  The image was taken in on March 12, 2012. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 600,000 miles (1 million kilometers).

This image that looks across Saturn's rings finds the moon Prometheus, a shepherd of the thin F ring. Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers across) looks like a small white bulge near the F ring -- the outermost ring seen here -- above the center of the image. Kinky, discontinuous ringlets can also be seen in the Encke Gap of the A ring on the left of the image. The image was taken in on Jan. 1, 2012. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from Prometheus.

A quintet of Saturn's moons come together in the above Cassini photo. Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across) is on the far left. Pandora (81 kilometers, or 50 miles across) orbits between the A ring and the thin F ring near the middle of the image. Brightly reflective Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across) appears above the center of the image. Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across), is bisected by the right edge of the image. The smaller moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles across) can be seen beyond Rhea also on the right side of the image.

Saturn's third-largest moon Dione can be seen in the above photo through the haze of its largest moon, Titan.  This view looks toward Titan (3200 miles, 5150 kilometers across) and Dione (698 miles, 1123 kilometers across). The image was obtained on May 21, 2011 at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) from Titan 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers) from Dione.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA Web Page

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Agates Close Up

For today's blog posting I am including close up pictures of agates.  All of these images are from the Shutterstock photo service.  I purchased a month-long plan, which has been extremely useful in acquiring photos that I need for online rockhounding adventures.   The plan allowed me to download 25 pictures a day for 30 days.  I missed a few of the days when I was at the Mason show, but most days I was trying to the last download done before the next 24 hour period started  

As for the progress on "the project," it is coming along.  I have completed and have ready for launch two of the nine segments, including the hardest segment.  I am hoping that the remaining final edits will go a bit faster.