Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tahquamenon Falls -- Post 1

The other day I visited Tahquamenon Falls with friends.  I have been there in the winter before, but I think this time is the most beautiful.  This falls is located east of Grand Marais, but is accessed during the winter by driving north of Newberry, MI.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

School Forest Trek

Yesterday I went on a snowshoe with friend, Lois Fite.  We hiked down the road in the School Forest for a while, then looped through the woods near the river.

Yes, the snow is all the way up to the bottom of the sign, located at the entrance to the School Forest.

Disc golf course...


When I arrived home, I noticed that the snow plowing service still had not been to my house.  In fact, they had not plowed my driveway for almost two weeks.  Even my tank of a car could not get through the 12-15 inches of snow.  I got stuck.  After shovelling for an hour, I was still stuck.  I called my snow plow guy, his employee came and pulled me out, but not all the way to the street.  I got stuck again.  He pulled me out again.  I parked on the street (which is not safe when there is an off-and-on white out).  Finally the "yooper shovel" showed up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Cassini Images

For today's blog posting I checked in with the Cassini spacecraft that is orbiting Saturn.  As many of you know, Saturn is my favorite extraterrestrial planet.

If your eyes could only see the color red, this is how Saturn's rings would look.

Many Cassini color images, like this one, are taken in red light so scientists can study the often subtle color variations of Saturn's rings. These variations may reveal clues about the chemical composition and physical nature of the rings. For example, the longer a surface is exposed to the harsh environment in space, the redder it becomes. Putting together many clues derived from such images, scientists are coming to a deeper understanding of the rings without ever actually visiting a single ring particle.

Saturn’s main rings, seen here on their ''lit'' face, appear much darker than normal. That’s because they tend to scatter light back toward its source — in this case, the Sun.

Usually, when taking images of the rings in geometries like this, exposures times are increased to make the rings more visible. Here, the requirement to not over-expose Saturn's lit crescent reveals just how dark the rings actually become. Scientists are interested in images in this sunward-facing ("high phase") geometry because the way that the rings scatter sunlight can tell us much about the ring particles' physical make-up.

Although solid-looking in many images, Saturn's rings are actually translucent. In this picture, we can glimpse the shadow of the rings on the planet through (and below) the A and C rings themselves, towards the lower right hand corner.

For centuries people have studied Saturn's rings, but questions about the structure and composition of the rings lingered. It was only in 1857 when the physicist James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated that the rings must be composed of many small particles and not solid rings around the planet, and not until the 1970s that spectroscopic evidence definitively showed that the rings are composed mostly of water ice.

Saturn is circled by its rings (seen nearly edge-on in this image), as well as by the moons Tethys (the large bright body near the lower right hand corner of this image) and Mimas (seen as a slight crescent against Saturn’s disk above the rings, at about 4 o’clock). The shadows of the rings, each ringlet delicately recorded across Saturn's face, also circle around Saturn's south pole.

Although the rings and larger moons of Saturn mostly orbit very near the planet's equatorial plane, this image shows that they do not all lie precisely in the orbital plane. Part of the reason that Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) and Tethys (660 miles, or 1062 kilometers across) appear above and below the ring plane because their orbits are slightly inclined (about 1 to 1.5 degrees) relative to the rings.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Skiing the PRNL Trails

On Saturday I skied some of the Pictured Rocks trails.  While snowshoeing on Friday along the ski trail, I noticed that the tack was perfect.  However, due to a few inches of snow overnight, the track was not nearly as good by late Saturday afternoon. was still worth it even if it was a bit of work due to the new snow.

First, here is a photo I took from Jamey and Lois Fite's B&B.  The bay, of course, is completely frozen.

Next, a photo of H58 east showing a tunnel of snow coated trees.

Ski trail A....

The snow gauge along the trail says 30 inches.  In my yard the average non-drifted depth is around 40 inches.

Crescent moon...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Deep Snow

The snow has been piling up lately in Grand Marais.  It seems that most days we receive one to six inches.  Here are some photos that document the snow level around my house.  We have now received around 200 inches of snow this winter season.

The photo below shows the view out my bathroom window.  The bottom of the window is around seven feet off the ground.

My sun porch...

The south side of my house...

Sunrise is coming...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sable Boat Ramp Snowshoe and More

Yesterday we had a heat wave in Grand Marais.  Day time temperatures actually rose to 12 degrees!  It is amazing what a difference that 10 or 15 degrees make.  Lois Fite and I parked at the corner of William Hill Road and Lowder Road, which is where the snow plowing stops.  We headed down the road toward the boat ramp.

We had glimpses of the sun.

The two days of white-out snow earlier this week coated all the trees again.

From the boat ramp, looking across Sable Lake to the Grand Sable dunes.

Looking toward the west side of the lake.  Yes, the wind was whipping up the snow.

A family of birch...

On the way back to the car, we veered off the road to snowshoe over to the foot bridge across Sable River, which is located between cross country ski trail A and Sable Lake.  We were there earlier this winter when we found out that the high water level had dislodged the bridge.  It is still dislodged, although covered completely in snow now.  I am glad that no one has tried to walk across it since it looks intact -- but it is not.

Looking down stream....there is a lot of snow!