Friday, May 3, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Most Spectacular Fireball Seen Over Washington D.C. On Wednesday Night!

May 03, 2013 - SPACEA spectacular fireball shot through the D.C. region’s western skies Wednesday night, a possible prelude to the Eta Aquarid meteor shower which peaks this weekend.

At least 3 dozen skywatchers in 6 states in the Mid-Atlantic reported the fireball around 11:45 p.m. according to the American Meteor Society. A fireball is defined simply as a larger than normal meteor.

Map showing location of eyewitness reports of May 1 fireball. Green line indicates witness saw fireball moving from right to left. Red line indicates witness saw meteor moving from left to right. (American Meteor Society)

An eyewitness in Leesburg filed this report:
The most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen! I first thought it was a plane crash landing but quickly realized it was a star/meteor! Very bright, bold and wonderful to experience and see!

The streaking fireball was spotted just 4 nights before the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower set for the pre-dawn hours on Sunday, May 5.

EarthSky says close to peak conditions may also occur in the pre-dawn hours Saturday and Monday.

“In a dark sky, especially at more southerly latitudes, the Eta Aquarids can produce up to 20 to 40 meteors per hour,” EarthSky writes. “From mid-northern latitudes, you might only see about 10 meteors per hour.”

A waning crescent moon means just modest interference from moonlight. In the D.C. area, minimal cloud cover should also support good viewing conditions.


The shower is a result of debris from Halley’s comet and is active from April 19 to May 20, despite the May 5 or 6 peak, Earth Sky says.

Thus, it’s possible the fireball seen Wednesday night was part of the spray from this long-duration shower.

UPDATE, 4:24 p.m.:
The American Meteor Society says a preceding fireball was observed Wednesday in the Northeast at 9:30 p.m. EDT, or just over 2 hours prior to the Mid-Atlantic fireball.

AMS’ Mike Hankey does not believe either of these fireballs were part of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower due to their timing and location. He writes:
First, both of these fireballs occurred several hours before the Eta Aquarids radiant had even risen. Secondly the radiants for these fireballs were no where near the Eta Aquarids radiant. Event 967 which occurred first, started in the west and headed east , this would place its radiant on the opposite side of the sky from the meteor shower radiant. The second event also happened more than 4 hours before the Eta Aquarids radiant had risen, and this fireball originated in the south west, heading north east, placing its radiant far from that of the meteor shower as well.

- Washington Post.

SOLAR WATCH: The Sun Is Peppered With Several Large Sunspots - M1.1 Solar Flare And Earth-Directed Coronal Mass Ejection; Geomagnetic Storms Expected Around May 5! UPDATE: ALERT - X-Ray Flux Exceeded M5 (R2)!

May 03, 2013 - THE SUN -  The sun is peppered with several large sunspots. Sunspot 1730 continues to decay as it rotates towards the southwest limb. Sunspot 1731 in the northern hemisphere remains a large Earth facing region, but has been fairly stable since the M1 event on Thursday morning and continues to show signs of decay.

Sunspot 1734 in the southeast quadrant was producing minor C-Class flares on Thursday, but has also gone quiet this morning. Finally, old region 1719 is rotating back into view off the east limb. We will have a better look at this sunspot later today. There will remain a chance for C-Class flares on Friday with a small chance for an isolated M-Class event.

1731, has an unstable delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-flares and a 5% chance of X-flares on May 3rd.

Flare-threat 1731 is circled in this picture of the sun rising over the Philippines on May 3rd:

"At least 4 sunspot groups are visible in the image I took using an unfiltered Canon 7D DSLR digital camera," says Jett Aguilar of Quezon City. "The photo reminds me of an Escher print, with the sunspots transforming into birds!"

Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot 1719 returns on Friday.
Credit: SDO/HMI

Solar wind flowing from this minor coronal hole should reach Earth on May 6-8.

Credit: SDO/AIA.

An earth-facing M1.1 Solar Flare was registered by Active Region 11731 at 05:10 UT on Thursday morning. That eruption took place in an Earth-facing position which means any Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) was Earth-directed. The following video shows the latest imagery of a strong CME leaving the sun shortly after the eruption. Geomagnetic storms should result as impact on Earth's magnetic field is expected sometime on May 5th. Associated with this blast was a 10cm Radio Burst and a Type II Radio Emission with an estimated velocity of 703 km/s.

WATCH: M1.1 Solar Flare & Earth-Directed CME - May 2, 2013.

The Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) was tipped south for many hours on Wednesday and this helped to stir up geomagnetic activity at high latitudes. Visible aurora was spotted early this morning across many locations.

Zoltan Kenwell in Alberta, Canada, sent this fantastic aurora image he captured very early this morning in Alberta, Canada. "Well, we had a bit of a rogue event this morning! I was watching data around 8 pm and noticed the Bz was south for some time so I geared up and hit the road. The show really started around 12:10 am. I imaged till 3:30 am and called it a night."

More great images by Matt Melnyk in Alberta, Canada, Nathan Mitchell in Alaska and Tony Travaglia (ZL4BHX) from New Zealand.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.

UPDATE: ALERT - X-Ray Flux Exceeded M5 (R2)!
NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has just issued the following alert:

Space Weather Message Code: ALTXMF
Serial Number: 186
Issue Time: 2013 May 03 1732 UTC

ALERT: X-Ray Flux exceeded M5
Threshold Reached: 2013 May 03 1729 UTC
NOAA Scale: R2 - Moderate

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at

Potential Impacts: Area of impact centered on sub-solar point on the sunlit side of Earth. Extent of blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication dependent upon current X-ray Flux intensity.

For real-time information on affected area and expected duration please see - NOAA/SWPC.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower 2013 - When, How And Where To Watch Live!

May 03, 2013 - SPACE - The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is now peaking in the wee hours before dawn. Its maximum is expected to come in the predawn sky on Sunday morning – May 5, 2013 – in the dark hour before astronomical twilight. Don’t know when astronomical twilight begins in your sky? Find out with this handy custom sunrise-sunset calendar.

The radiant point for the Eta Aquarid meteor shower lies in front of the "Water Jar" asterism in the constellation Aquarius.

Under ideal conditions, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower produces up to 20 to 40 meteors per hour – possibly more in the Southern Hemisphere. Luckily, the thin waning crescent moon will not seriously intrude on this year’s Eta Aquarid display. Although the more southerly latitudes have the better view of this shower, tropical and subtropical latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere still enjoy a decent view of the Eta Aquarids. North of 40o north latitude the meteors tend to be few and far between. But no matter where you live worldwide, the greatest number of meteors usually fall in the dark hours just before dawn.

The point in the sky from which meteors in annual showers appear to radiate is called the meteor shower radiant. You don’t have to locate the radiant to watch the Eta Aquarid meteors, but people always ask about them. Although the Eta Aquarid meteors streak all over the sky, they appear to radiate from the Y-shaped group of stars called the Water Jar. The Water Jar is part of the constellation Aquarius.

To star-hop to the Water Jar, first of all find the four stars of the Great Square of Pegasus. (See sky chart at bottom right.) Looking eastward at about 4 a.m. (Daylight Saving Time), the Great Square of Pegasus glitters like a celestial baseball diamond. Imagine the bottom star as home base. Draw a line from the third base star through the first base star, then go twice that distance to locate the star Sadal Melik.

To the lower left of Sadal Melik is the small Y-shaped Water Jar, marking the approximate radiant of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Again, you don’t need to know the shower’s radiant point to watch the meteors! During the wee morning hours before dawn, the meteors in this annual shower will appear in all parts of the sky.

A meteor streaks past stars in the night sky.

How to Watch Eta Aqaurids Meteor Shower

  • Find an area away from city lights or other bright light sources and be patient. It can take up to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the new environment
  • Wear appropriate clothing for overnight temperatures. Keep in mind that night time temperatures can be significantly colder than those in the day time, in some parts of the world
  • Have something comfortable to sit on - a good reclining chair, sleeping bag or ground pad (experts suggest you lie flat on your back and look straight up)
- EarthSky.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Spring - Dallas Sets Record For Coldest Spring Ever, "It's Never Been This Cold This Late In The Spring"!

May 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Spotty showers will linger this evening.  There might be a few spotty showers and some sprinkles around for the start of the Rangers game at 7pm, but skies will clear after 4am tonight.  RADAR HERE

This will be the coldest night we have ever seen this late in the Spring Season here in DFW.  I expect a low tonight at DFW to be 39 degrees.  This will be the latest date in the Spring season for us to ever see temperatures in the 30s.  The previous record is 34 degrees on May 1, 1903.

This low of 39 degrees tonight will also break the daily low for May 3 which is 41 degrees set in 1954.

We could also tie or break a record low for today (May 2) if we drop to 44 degrees before midnight tonight.

Here’s a look at record low temperatures for today, tomorrow and Saturday along with the forecasted low.


Some areas north and west of DFW could see a freeze early tomorrow morning. Those in the counties shaded in blue below should protect any tender vegetation they would like to save. This includes Parker, Wise, Cooke, Montague, Jack and Eastland Counties.


Winds will stay breezy overnight on the order of 10 to 20 mph out of the northwest.  The key to reaching these cold temperatures is if clouds can clear out after midnight.


A big upper level storm system that has carved out a junk of air right over the Central Plains is responsible for this cold outbreak.  The air that has been dragged southward by this low has Arctic origin.  This low will just slowly move over Arkansas this weekend.  This will keep us in a northerly flow.  That means more cool, dry air coming into North Texas.


Here’s a look at temperatures for high and lows this weekend.  The average high for this time of year is 80 degrees. 

The average low is 60.  We will be well below that thru at least Monday.  It will also still be windy on tomorrow and Saturday. - CBS-DFW.

WATCH: Unprecedented cold in May in Dallas.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Dead Jelly Fish Found Mysteriously Wash Up On The Umargam Beach In India?

May 03, 2013 - INDIA - In April, of this year, there were thousands of dead jelly fish seen on the beach of Umargam.  Is it because of increased pollution in the sea or some other reason, I don't know? But these biological creations are extremely delicate and sensitive to changes in the sea environment. - Vicram Singh. [Edited for clarity]

Thousands of dead jelly fish at Umargam Beach.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Spring - May Storm Heads East After Dumping Up To 14 Inches Of Snow On The U.S. Midwest, Plains; Snowstorm Still Pummeling Wisconsin, Up To 17 Inches Reported!

May 03, 2013 - UNITED STATESA late-season storm that brought bands of heavy, wet snow to the Midwest and Plains states moved slowly eastward on Thursday. Parts of southeastern and eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin were expected to get more snow, the National Weather Service predicted. While about five inches of snow fell in Denver, Colo., other parts of the state got more than a foot. Parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming also saw upwards of fifteen inches of unseasonable snow, the weather service reported.

May Storm Heads East After Dumping Up To 14 Inches Of Snow On Midwest, Plains.

Mike Gregg trudges through the snow Thursday morning in Austin, Minn., to walk his dog Jake. Heavy, wet snow impacted driving and all-around travel abruptly interrupting spring.
Eric Johnson / Austin Daily Herald via AP reported
that the storm had "dumped up to 13 inches of snow in Owatonna, Minn.,where I-35 was closed early Thursday due to snow and downed power lines. Up to 14 inches of snow has been measured in Ellsworth, Wis."

Snowfall was expected to continue through the upper Midwestern states through Thursday night before dissipating on Friday, the weather service reported. And up to nine inches had already fallen in Dodge County, Minn., on Thursday. The snow looked ready to melt away fast after hitting the ground even in the areas that saw the most accumulation on Wednesday.

The unwelcome powder still managed to cause disturbances in towns and cities that had thought it was safe to put away their shovels and ice salt. “This is  a record for me,” Brian Wagstrom, director of public works in Minnetonka, Minn., told NBC station KARE. “This is the latest that we have ever put plows on this time of the year.”

WATCH: In some parts of the country, spring still feels far away. The snowfall in the Rockies, Plains and Dakotas is setting records and may not end until Friday. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

“We are anticipating maybe 2 to 3 inches of slush on the roadways,” Wagstrom added. “Depending upon the heat of the roadway, it might melt off.” Residents of Des Moines, Iowa, and even Kansas City, Mo., could get a last-minute visit from winter with some accumulation before the storm’s over, according to

Jim Eulberg, director of public works in the South Dakota town of Worthington, had to tell his crews to give up spring street sweeping and ready the plows. “When you’re looking at the calendar, you’re thinking this is the stuff we should be doing. Not dealing with ice storm damage and plowing,” Eulberg told NBC station KDLT.

Melt and move on, other residents of South Dakota said as 3 to 4 inches fell over Sioux Falls on Wednesday. “It’s May 1. We are supposed to be out delivering May baskets,” Debbie Tams of Sioux Falls told KDLT as the city saw its first May snow in nearly four decades. “Not shoveling snow.” - NBC News.

May Snowstorm Still Pummeling Wisconsin, Up To 17 Inches Reported.
© Cindy Cowell

Heavy snow continues to fall this afternoon in parts of northern Wisconsin, with Rice Lake already reporting 17 inches on the ground.

The heaviest snow had moved east of Hayward at noon but was still falling in Park Falls, Ironwood and Ashland.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation earlier advised no travel because of heavy snow on U.S. Highway 53 between Spooner and Gordon; U.S. Highway 63 from Spooner to Hayward; and state Highway 70 from Stone Lake to Siren.

Other highways are reported to be snow-covered, including U.S. Highway 2 east of Iron River.

The unusual May snowstorm moved just south and east of the Twin Ports but hovered over southeastern Minnesota, north-central Wisconsin and into Washburn, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron Counties where up to 14 inches fell overnight.

In southeastern Minnesota, where more than a foot fell through morning, traffic was snarled in some areas and electricity was out and heavy snow n limbs broke powerlines. Parts of Red Wing and Owatonna reported power was still out at mid-morning.

An unusually dry pool of cool air just north of Minnesota kept all of the snow out of Northeastern Minnesota. The forecast for Duluth and Superior now calls for just cloudy and cool, with a chance of light snow or rain Friday. Conditions should gradually improve over the weekend with temperatures back in the 60s by Monday.

Snowfall totals as of 10 a.m., according to the National Weather Service, include:
  • Rice Lake, Wis. 17 inches
  • Hayward (8 miles south) - 16 inches
  • Owatonna, Minn. 15.5 inches
  • Ellsworth, Wis. - 14 inches
  • Red Wing, Minn. - 13 inches
  • Washburn - 12 inches
  • Cumberland, Wis. - 12 inches
  • Ashland - 10 inches
  • Albert Lea, Minn. - 10 inches
  • La Pointe - 8.7 inches
  • Shell Lake - 8 inches
  • Iron River - 4 inches
  • Solon Springs - 2 inches

- Duluth News Tribune.