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Correction: The photographer of "Steve" was misidentified in an earlier version of this story. We apologize for the error. 

Today’s astrology question: Who or what is Steve?

Answer:  It’s a gaseous streak of colorful, highly energized particles, officially named Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, which moves east to west and is often seen near an aurora borealis.

Photographer Peggy Sue Zinn of Traverse City was shooting the Northern Lights at Glen Haven in Traverse City when Steve made an appearance.

“I was actually shooting to the north, getting my favorite creepy trees with northern lights," she said, "when out of the corner of my eye I caught this dance of light.  I whipped the camera around, and started shooting to the west, where ‘Steve’ appeared.  I really didn't have time to think much, as this didn't last long." 

Zinn is a devoted tracker of aurora borealis.  She started a Facebook page, Aurora Hunters of Michigan, and a web site, Michigan Aurora Hunters, both dedicated to public education, scientific information, weather updates and tips on how to safely locate, enjoy and photograph the northern lights.

Zinn's photo “Steve” is among the last four finalists in The Detroit News’ Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest under the City and Country theme.  The other finalists are:

  • “Race Ya!” by Erica Giordano of Clarkston. “One evening last summer, my husband challenged our kids to a race -- wanting to prove that Dad still has some gas left in the tank,” she said. Her shot shows the trio racing down a country road in Clarkston. “Luckily for him, he won.”
  • “Solar Power,” by Izzy Cagalawan of Macomb.  A distant sunburst over the RenCen is framed by a bench on Belle Isle.  “It's just a product of my constant search for something different,” Cagalawan said.
  • “Winter Hike to Big Sable Point Light,” by Tom Sovereign of St. Johns. It was a 3-mile hike at 13 degrees with 30 mph wind gusts blowing snow and sand. “But right when we arrived the dark skies opened and the sun lit up Big Sable with those dark and white clouds, blue sky mixed in, and it was truly beautiful!” Sovereign said.

Vote now for People's Choice winner

Next step: Choosing two winners from among the 16 finalists.  The Detroit News photo judges will name the City and Country winner, and you may cast your vote between today and Sunday for the People’s Choice winner at

Both winners will receive a $300 Visa gift card as their prize.

 Meanwhile, the doors are open for Theme 2 of this summer’s contest: Woods and Wildlife. Entries will be accepted until noon July 20. Enter your photos at  The first four finalists will be announced next Wednesday.

Theme 3, Four-Season Fun, gets underway July 20-August 17.  At the close of the contest Aug. 29, three more photos will be chosen from among all of the finalists to receive Awards of Excellence from the Detroit News photo staff. The prize for these photographers will be $100 Visa cards.

Study the official rules and follow along all summer at for weekly updates.

The contest is open to non-professional photographers age 18 and older. All photos must have been shot in Michigan by the person submitting them, with no significant alteration by a software program.

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