January 2023

I did not realize I have not updated the Gitche Gumee Museum’s web page in a year. The year 2022 was crazy and did not allow me time to accomplish all of the desired tasks. This will be my last update on this page since I have permanently closed the museum. The new webpage for the new Agatelady Rock Shop can be accessed at www.agateladyrockshop.com.

The new webpage has been created to explain services and products offered through the new rock shop including scheduling private appointments, reserving seats at the weekly 6:00 pm Friday lecture (Understanding and Finding Agates), requesting private group lectures, and more. The new website will not have updates like the old website. However, I will leave this original webpage accessible so that people can access its archive of information.

Three spring photos are included including a Lake Superior sunset image, a photo taken in the Grand Sable Dunes, and a picture showing a large amount of driftwood on a Grand Marais beach.

Three photos from the 2022 summer are included including one of the Au Sable lighthouse, a photo from the top of the lighthouse looking east toward the Grand Sable Dunes and Grand Marais, and a picture of one of the shipwreck sections located on the beach west of Au Sable lighthouse.

Photos taken last fall include two showing massive waves hitting the outer harbor lighthouse and pier in Grand Marais, MI, and three pictures taken up in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth photo shows one of the dunes as well as one of the telegraph poles that is still standing after more than a century. The telegraph line was installed to connect Au Sable lighthouse to Grand Marais. The sixth photo is one I took from Coast Guard Point in Grand Marais. I had never seen this picket-fence-looking light show before but was told by a friend of mine (Shawn Malone) that it is a STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. These are often visible from areas farther south than a typical aurora, and it looks like a ribbon of pink or mauve light, with green columns of light passing through the ribbon. Auroras, by contrast, usually are shimmering green ribbons.

STEVE’s mauve streaks occur when charged particles are heated up high in the atmosphere. For a while, STEVE’s origins were elusive. The picket-fence-formation was investigated in 2016 by citizen scientists in western Canada. The new study examined satellite data gathered above STEVE events in April 2008 and May 2016. The measurements included information about Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields in the magnetosphere, the region of Earth’s atmosphere where the planet’s magnetic field is stronger than any influence coming from the sun. Then, scientists compared the satellites’ findings with amateur photos of STEVE taken from the ground at the same time. When STEVE was on display, the study authors discovered that energetic electrons were pouring into Earth’s ionosphere, the layer of the planet’s atmosphere where atoms lose electrons due to solar and cosmic radiation. The friction caused by the movement of the electrons creates a pinkish glow, almost like an incandescent light bulb. Satellite information further revealed how the “picket fence” aspect of STEVE develops. The data revealed waves moving from Earth’s magnetosphere to the ionosphere. In this region, the waves can both energize electrons and move them out of the magnetosphere, creating the picket-fence appearance, which happens simultaneously in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The phenomenon appears as a very narrow arc extending for hundreds or thousands of miles, aligned east–west. It generally lasts for twenty minutes to an hour.

Since I get more time to get out adventuring in the winter, I have more pictures from this season. The first shows a shelf of Lake Superior rocks pushed up the beach by waves and frozen in place. The second shows Tahquamenon Falls at sunset. The third was taken in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth and fifth pictures are views of Sable Lake are taken from the boat ramp and from the dunes. The seventh and eighth images demonstrate just how deep the snow gets in Grand Marais. The ninth show the outer harbor lighthouse peaking up above the mound of ice piled on the western pier along the channel leading from Lake Superior to Grand Marais Bay. The last picture was taken from the bluff of the dunes overlooking Lake Superior. It shows melting mounds of ice covered in sand that accumulates on top when the ice mounds melt.

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