One of the coolest things about visiting the Great Lakes is walking along some of the sandy, rocky beaches at night, and looking up at the starry skies. Billions of glowing dots above our heads, and yet... we might be missing some incredible glowing opportunities right beneath our feet in those moments.

The Great Lakes are home to very unique stones that, under the right conditions, will glow, and bare a name that might be a bit familiar to Michiganders in particular - Yooperlite.

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Erik Rintamaki found these incredible stones while walking the beach on Lake Superior in June of 2017. He's an "agate picker" - someone who collects unique stones and rocks. As he tells it, around 4 a.m., he was using his new UV light to search for unique stones and ran across two stones - about the size of a dime - that glowed VERY brightly under his light.

"To his surprise, these small stones emitted what is now a distinguishable teal-yellowish luminescent glow. The discovery would garnish a staggering amount of national media attention and has since inspired Erik to pursue a mentorship role with his community."

For those so inclined, the stone is actually a "syenite rock," similar to granite, but lacks quartz. This makes the stone rich with "Sodalite," which is very fluorescent.

When Erik found the first stones, he contacted a friend of his who could analyze the stones more closely.

"I ended up sending these stones off to... my buddy... a Geologist, and a flourescent mineral collector, and he told me they were syenite rich flourescent sodalite. I asked him, 'how can I sell (them),' and he said, just make up a name for them and go from there. So I picked the name 'Yooper' for where I'm from, where I discovered the stones... 'Lite,' they light up... Yooperlite was born."

Erik also sold some of the stones to the Michigan Minerology Project, and they confirmed that the stones were something new that had never been officially found in Michigan, until then.

So now, hunting for Yooperlites has become somewhat of a public outreach for Erik, as he leads regular tours along the shores of Lake Superior searching for the glowing stones. But, you can search on your own as well. All you need is a UV Flashlight, and a good pair of shoes to walk the rocky shores of the Great Lakes.

So the next time you're "up north," instead of peering to the skies, you might see something equally as dazzling if you look to your toes.

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