Going to Seney

Sun Halo

Our time up north here is too fast drawing to a close. While for most of our vacation we’ve kept to ourselves, only socializing with our next-door northern neighbors. Hanging out at the cabin or walking the beach has been like a balm, but lately we’ve become restless. We needed a field trip. Something more exciting than picking up groceries at Meijer’s or going to the Brimley post office for stamps. To this end, we launched ourselves on a mini one-day, hour-plus road trip to Seney National Wildlife Preserve.

A front had come through. Bringing with it cold and blustery weather. Weather perfect for venturing into a swamp. The day before, we had spied the pictured sun halo. A halo around the sun is a fairly common phenomenon. It is typically caused when there are very high, very thin clouds. These clouds, being so high in the sky, are made from ice crystals. Since high clouds typically proceed unsettled weather, it is said a halo around the sun means rain is on the way.

I was once tasked with calculating the infrared signature of one of these crystals, using radar cross-section calculating tools. Hey, it’s all part of the same spectrum! My boss had promised this work to a local professor who was more into weather than stealth. Like so many other things at work, I never heard back on this job. Anyway it gave me an insight into why a sun halo always have a 22 degree radius. It’s the diffraction angle of these hexagonal ice prisms.

We launched early for Seney, at least early for us. We had the satellite radio tuned to the Sixties station. “Phlash” Phelps, our favorite DJ was on-air. As part of his show, he always features a mystery town of the day and asks listeners to guess where it is. This day’s town was in honor of the actor Wilford Brimley, who has just passed. Hints included that it is on the shore of Lake Superior and is near the Soo Locks. The fact that we were driving through Brimley as this was on the radio made it more exciting and easier to guess.

We did eventually make it to Seney and saw and photographed lots of wildlife, but I think that this is enough for now. This way I can milk this field trip for at least one more post. Besides an extra day will give me enough time for a more accurate bird count. Think of this drawn out tabulating of results as training for the election in November. Today just happens to be Election Day both here in Michigan and in Missouri.

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