Tuesday, December 3, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Geminid Meteor Shower - Earth Is Entering A Stream Of Debris From Rock Comet 3200 Phaeton!

December 03, 2013 - SPACE - Earth is entering a stream of debris from rock comet 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Our planet is just dipping into the outskirts of the debris zone now, so visual meteor rates are low. Nevertheless, the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is starting to pick up echoes from meteoroids.

This all-sky radar map from Dec. 2nd shows activity from shower's radiant in the constellation Gemini:

"The data processing for the last 24 hours of CMOR data has just finished and the Geminids, still ten days from their maximum, are very clearly visible," reports Prof. Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario, which operates the radar.

The shower won't peak until Dec. 13-14 when Earth passes through the core of the debris stream, but Brown thinks observers should start looking now. "Glare from the nearly-full Moon will interfere with the Geminid's mid-December maximum," he says. "This week, however, the Moon is new. Observers should be starting to see activity from this very strong shower."

Observing tip:
The best time to look is during the hours between midnight and dawn when the constellation Gemini is high in the sky.

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. 

On Dec. 3, 2013, the network reported 18 fireballs. (17 sporadics, 1 November omega Orionid)

- Space Weather.

OMEN: The River Of Blood - Villagers Shock As Slovakian Waterway Turns Red Overnight "Like Something From A Horror Film"!

December 03, 2013 - SLOVAKIA - Rumours were rife in a Slovakian town this week when a river running through turned bright red.

'Slaughter of 1,00 virgins': Locals feared the colour change was an result of mass murder or 'evil', although the
most likely explanation is that of a broken filtration system at a nearby slaughterhouse

The river in Myjava, a small municipality on the border to the Czech Republic, had changed colour over night and turned into 'blood'.

Police have been called in to investigate the matter, but it is believed to be a faulty filtering system from a slaughterhouse upstream.

Roman Podbrezova, 65, had gone for a morning walk when he saw the drastic change to the river which runs through the centre of the town.

‘I just could not believe my eyes,’ he said. ‘The river was dark red. It was like something from a horror film. Blood cascading through the centre of town.’

Another local said: ‘This is really creepy. Yesterday evening I walked past here and it was its normal colour.

‘Now it looks like someone slaughtered 1,000 virgins or something. I'm not superstitious, and we've never had any serial killers or anything like that here, but this isn't normal.

Riverrun: Residents in the small town of Myjava in Slovakia awoke to a river red as blood.

Police spokesman Elena Antalova said: ‘We are checking the source of the blood and what caused it.

‘At the moment we are thinking it could have come from dead fish or maybe someone washed a barrel containing blood in the river.

‘It seems it came from the drains directly above the museum,’ she said.

The waste from a slaughterhouse higher up the River Myjava is usually pumped into a retaining pool where it is filtered before being released into the river. - Daily Mail.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - New Deaths From MERS Virus Reported In Gulf Region!

December 03, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - The health authority in Abu Dhabi reported the death of the Jordanian woman from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, on Tuesday.

Her husband and son have also contracted the virus. It says they are in stable condition.

The World Health Organization said in a separate statement issued Monday that two other patients confirmed to be suffering from MERS in nearby Qatar have also died, on November 19 and 29.

The WHO's Monday statement said there have been 70 deaths from MERS, mostly in Saudi Arabia. The virus is related to the SARS virus, which killed about 800 people in 2003. - Medical Xpress.

RATTLE & HUM: Connecticut Rattled By Two Small Earthquake Tremors!

December 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Two organizations that track seismic activity have confirmed that the region experienced an earthquake on Friday, answering questions raised about the mysterious booms heard by residents from Montville to Mystic.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake at 9:05 a.m. Friday that was centered about 2 miles east of Conning Towers-Nautilus Park, or 41.383°N 72.028°W in Groton.

The Weston Observatory, an earthquake research arm of Boston College, reported two earthquakes, one at 9:05 a.m. and another at 9:42 a.m., said Justin Starr, a research assistant.

The quakes, Starr said, were recorded somewhere in the area of the Thames River, close to Ledyard. He said seismometers recorded both quakes as magnitude 1.8. He said there are several ways to measure the earth's movement and the discrepancy in the magnitude recorded by the U.S.G.S. is not uncommon.

The noises produced by the earthquakes led to numerous calls to local police and fire departments, which searched the area looking for signs of an explosion.

After she said her home in Old Mystic shook, Nancy Peta had guessed it was either an earthquake or a plane crash.

"To hear it was an earthquake, I'm sure a lot of people will be relieved insomuch that now they know what it was," she said Monday.

Starr said Friday's quakes were small and close to the surface. The release of seismic energy causes the earth's surface to act like a speaker and emit a sound like an explosion.

Starr said similar quakes occurred in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in October and they are not as uncommon as many would think.

"They do happen every now and again," Starr said.

The Moodus section of East Haddam is famous for small quakes, which to native Americans would have sounded like loud drums, he said. The high school sports teams there are named the Noises.

Why they happen is a little more technical. Starr said the general consensus is that in New England earthquakes are a reactivation of ancient fault lines that are being compressed from east to west. Stress builds up until the pent-up energy is released. - The Day.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Some Of Syria's Chemical Weapons Will Be Destroyed On U.S. Vessel - OPCW!

December 03, 2013 - SYRIA - The most dangerous types of toxic substances from Syria's chemical weapons arsenals will be removed from the country by December 31 and destroyed on a vessel provided by the United States, Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement.

"The United States has offered to contribute a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria's priority chemicals, which are to be removed from the country by 31 December," the statement says.

"The neutralization operations will be conducted on a US vessel at sea using hydrolysis," the statement says.

Uzumcu also reiterated that 35 commercial companies have expressed on interest in participating in the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons. These offers will now undergo evaluation, he said.

The US government has begun outfitting a ship in its reserve ready force with equipment to enable it to destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons at sea in the event Washington is asked to assist in the effort, a defense official said on Sunday.

The Maritime Administration vessel MV Cape Ray is being equipped with the newly developed Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, which was designed by the Defense Department to neutralize components used in chemical weapons, a defense official said on condition of anonymity.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which supervising the disposal of Syria's chemical arms, said last week the United States had offered to destroy some of the components on a US ship and was looking for a Mediterranean port where the work could be carried out.

"The United States is committed to supporting the international community's efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in the safest, most efficient and effective means possible," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in an email on Sunday.

"We have offered and are currently outfitting a US vessel with field deployable hydrolysis system technology to support the OPCW's efforts," she said, adding the US remained "confident that we can meet the milestones for destruction set out by the OPCW."

The OPCW aims to remove the most critical chemicals out of Syria by the end of December, with the remainder due out by Feb. 5.

The Cape Ray, a 648-foot (198-meter) vessel with built-in ramps to enable cargo to be efficiently rolled on and rolled off, is part of the Maritime Administration's ready reserve force of 46 ships.

The force was organized to provide strategic sealift for US military forces, but it is part of the Transportation Department. The Pentagon would lease the Cape Ray if it participates in the Syrian chemical weapons destruction, the defense official said.

The OPCW said last week 35 firms had expressed an interest in bidding for commercial contracts to dispose of some 800 tonnes (1 tonne = 1.102 metric tons) of bulk industrial chemicals that are safe to destroy in commercial incinerators.

Another 500 tonnes of chemicals, including nerve agents, were seen as too dangerous to import into a country or to process commercially. The OPCW was considering the US offer to neutralize those chemical agents on a vessel at sea.

The United States has offered to destroy Syria's priority chemicals on a US vessel at sea using hydrolysis, adding that a naval vessel was undergoing modifications to support the operation, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said

The OPCW also said it had received expressions of interest from 35 firms for the safe disposal of Syria's chemical stockpile.

"The United States has offered to contribute destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralise Syria's priority chemicals," the organisation said in a statement.

The United States has offered to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile and plns to do so at sea, the world's chemical watchdog said on Saturday.

"The Director-General stated that the neutralisation operation will be conducted on a US vessel at sea using hydrolysis," the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

The Obama administration is offering to destroy some of Syria’s chemical weapons in international waters on one of its ships, Itar-Tass reports.

The destruction would likely be on the MV Cape Ray, a US government-owned ship, in the Mediterranean Sea, with US Navy warships patrolling nearby. The US would use what it calls a mobile Field Deployable Hydrolysis System to neutralize the chemical material, making it unusable in weapons.

This approach would avoid the vexing diplomatic, environmental and security problems posed by disposing of the materials on any nation’s soil. The plan still needs final approval by the UN chemical watchdog, the OPCW.

Jonathan Lalley, a spokesman for the president's National Security Council, stressed that no decisions had been made regarding destroying chemicals outside of Syria.

"We and our international partners are pursuing alternative means of destruction, and we will continue discussing with other countries how they might best contribute to that effort," Lalley said in a statement.

"We remain confident that we will complete elimination of the program within the milestones agreed upon." - VOR.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Heightened Activity On Kamchatka Peninsula - Klyuchevskoy Volcano Sends Pillar Of Fire 1,000 Meters Into The Sky And Shiveluch Volcano Spews Ash Cloud 9 Kilometers High!

December 03, 2013 - RUSSIA - With a pillar of fire stretching up into the clouds, this spectacular image captures the moment a volcano erupted in remote Russia.

The stream of lava rose up to a kilometer above the summit of Klyuchevskoy, one of the active volcanoes on the Kamchatka peninsula in the east of the country. The volcano, which erupts around every two years, is one of the largest on-land active volcanoes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

It stands at 15,584f t on the north end of a belt of 30 active volcanoes. The dramatic picture of Klyuchevskoy was captured by photographer Marc Szeglat on October 16 at a distance of approximately 9.5 miles from its concealed cone, as the volcano erupted for the first time in three years.

The explosion triggered by the eruption could be heard from 20 miles away. In September 1994, an eruption caused disruption after it affected airline routes across the Pacific Ocean. The active nature of the volcano, which first began erupting in 1697, means it is still rarely a target for climbers. - SKY News.

The Shiveluch Volcano erupting in Kamchatka has spewed ash nine kilometers high, the Kamchatkan territorial emergency situations department reported on Tuesday. No ashfall has been reported from towns nearby.

“The volcanic event occurred on Tuesday afternoon. The ash cloud stretched northwest, bypassing populated areas,” the report said. There was no drifting ashfall over nearby towns. Nevertheless, rescuers advised tour operators to avoid paths around the volcano, for which a red alert has been issued.

Shiveluch is the northernmost active volcano of Kamchatka situated 45 kilometers away from the town of Klyuchi in the Ust-Kamchatsky district with a population of approximately 5,000. It is also one of the largest Kamchatkan volcanoes.

Shiveluch became active in May 2009 after producing a fissure that is almost 30 meters deep in its dome. - VOR.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Hong Kong's First Case Of H7N9 Bird Flu Virus Confirmed!

December 03, 2013 - HONG KONG - The deadly H7N9 bird flu virus has arrived in Hong Kong, it was confirmed last night.

The city activated its flu contingency plan after an Indonesian domestic worker who recently travelled to Shenzhen was found to have contracted the deadly new strain, the first case in the city.

The 36-year-old patient is in a critical condition in Queen Mary Hospital, Pok Fu Lam, with severe pneumonia and breathing with the help of an artificial lung.

The live-in helper works for a couple with two children, and all four were said to have minor flu symptoms and were under observation in quarantine at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Secretary of the Food and Health Bureau Dr Ko Wing-man said: "Since the helper had travelled to Shenzhen, where she had killed and cooked a live chicken, we believe it is a case imported [from the mainland]."

Health officials are looking for a second person who accompanied the helper to Shenzhen on November 17.

The helper developed flu symptoms four days later. She was first treated at Tuen Mun Hospital, but was transferred to Queen Mary last Wednesday.

Ko said two earlier tests for the virus came back negative, but a third test last night confirmed she had contracted H7N9.

 Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man. Photo: Edward Wong

He added that the risk of human-to-human transmission could not be ascertained yet, but he activated the city's three-level response system set up to deal with a potential flu pandemic.

It was set at the "serious level", one step below the top emergency level. Live poultry imports from three Shenzhen farms will be suspended until the Centre for Health Protection completes an investigation.

Since the first case of H7N9 infection in a human was reported in February, the virus has killed 45 people, all on the mainland.

About 138 people on the mainland were infected and one in Taiwan. Most of the cases were in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai.

In November, a three-year-old boy in Dongguan , Guangdong, was confirmed with the disease.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said there was not enough evidence to show that the virus could spread between humans.

Ho said the public should remain vigilant, but there was no need to panic. - SCMP.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet ISON Dies ... Again - The "Comet Of The Century" Reduced To Small Cloud Of Dust After Death Duel With The Sun!

December 03, 2013 - SPACE - Comet ISON is fading fast as it recedes from the sun. Whatever piece of the comet briefly survived its Thanksgiving Day brush with solar fire is now dissipating in a cloud of dust.


This development makes it unlikely that Comet ISON will put on a good show after it exits the glare of the sun in early December. Experienced astrophotographers might be able to capture the comet's fading "ghost" in the pre-dawn sky, but a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question.

On Nov. 29th, pilot Brian Whittaker tried to catch a first glimpse of Comet ISON from Earth, post-perihelion, from a plane flying 36,000 feet over the Arctic Circle in northern Canada. No luck:

"Ideal viewing conditions from the Arctic revealed no Comet ISON," reports Whittaker. "This negative report is to quench the thirst of other fellow dreamers under cloudy skies or further south. Later I could see that SOHO showed the comet dimming further."

Despite Whittaker's negative result, it is too soon to rule out observations from Earth as the twice-dead comet moves away from the glare of the sun. Meanwhile, NASA's fleet of solar observatory will be tracking the remains.

COMET ISON, R.I.P.: Following its Thanksgiving Day brush with solar fire, sundiving Comet ISON is now just a cloud of dust. Among experts, a consensus is building that the comet broke apart shortly before perihelion (closest approach to the sun). In the movie, note how rapidly the comet fades just before it vanishes behind the occulting disk of the SOHO coronagraph:

After perihelion, the comet emerges as a diffuse remnant of its former self. No one knows for sure what is inside that fan-shaped cloud. Possibilities include a small remnant nucleus or a "rubble pile" of furiously vaporizing fragments. By the end of the day on Nov. 28th, Comet ISON was spent.

As of Dec. 2nd, the cloud of debris is no brighter than a star of approximately 8th magnitude. Experienced astrophotographers might be able to capture the comet's fading "ghost" in the pre-dawn sky of early December, but a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question. - Space Weather.