Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MASS BIRD/FISH/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents In The United States - 27 Eagles Found Dead From Virus In Utah; Over 1,000 Dolphins Wash Up Dead This Year Along The U.S. East Coast; Hundreds Of Dead Starfish Wash Up On Beaches In Corpus Christi; 803 Manatees Have Washed Up Dead This Year In Florida; And Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up On The Shores Of Sparks Marina, Nevada!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs in the United States:

27 Eagles Found Dead From Virus In Utah.
One of four bald eagle that was brought into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah but eventually
died. Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and six others are being treated.
(AP Photo/Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah)

State wildlife officials say West Nile Virus appears to be the mystery illness that's caused more than two dozen bald eagles to die in Utah this month.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says results of laboratory tests on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile.

Officials say 27 bald eagles have died since Dec. 1, and five others are being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation center.

DWR says in a statement that it believes the eagles ate grebes that were infected with the virus.

The agency says the migration of the aquatic birds should be over soon so eagle deaths should stop.

It says the birds do not pose a risk to human health but people should not handle eagles if they find them. - FOX News.

Over 1,000 Dolphins Wash Up Dead This Year Along The American East Coast.

More than 1,000 migratory bottlenose dolphins have died from a measles-like virus along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in 2013 and the epidemic shows no sign of abating, a marine biologist said on Monday.

The death toll exceeds the 740 dolphins killed during the last big outbreak of the then-unknown virus in 1987-88.

“It is having a significant impact and that is something we’re monitoring closely,” said Erin Fougeres, a marine mammal biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

An estimated 39,206 bottlenose dolphins populated the eastern seaboard, to a depth of 25 feet, from New Jersey to Central Florida in 2010, according to the latest NOAA census.

Scientists are trying to determine why the morbillivirus resurged this year. The dolphins, which migrate south for the winter, have been stranded or found dead on beaches from New York toFlorida since June, Fougeres said.

An unknown number of affected dolphins likely died offshore as well, she said.

A record number of manatees have also died in Florida waters this year, mostly from a toxic algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The commission’s research institute said it documented 803 manatee deaths in state waters between January 1 and December 13, the most for any year since record-keeping began in 1974.

The morbillivirus virus outbreaks could be natural and simply cyclical, said Fougeres.

“The last occurrence of this was about 25 years ago and the animals that survived that would have natural antibodies. But as those animals slowly die out and new animals are not exposed, they may not have that immunity,” Fougeres said.

But other as-yet unproven theories related to global warming or pollution also are being investigated, she noted. “There could be underlying causes that made them more susceptible this year versus other years.”

Scientists in the late-1980s estimated that the morbillivirus wiped out 50 percent of the coastal migratory dolphins. As a result the bottlenose dolphin was designated as “depleted” under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, a status it retains today.

Since then, scientists have learned more about dolphin populations, and believe the morbillivirus is endemic in the marine environment where other deep-sea species such as pilot whales may be symptom-free carriers, Fougeres said.

Fougeres said something in the environment might have caused dolphins to interact more closely with the whales recently.

An unrelated study released last week by NOAA showed that some dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are gravely ill from injuries consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure. The study looked at dolphin from Louisiana’s Barataria Bay heavily impacted by British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. - Global Research Report.

Hundreds Of Dead Starfish Wash Up On Beaches In Corpus Christi.
An unusual sight out at the Packery Channel Saturday morning has some beach goers wondering what's going on. Hundreds of dead star fish have washed up on shore.

It a was quite a sight.

We talked to a local expert at the Harte Research Institute.

He believes that the reason behind it, is the cold weather.

Larry McKinney with the Harte Research Institute said, "we have had this sustained situation of cold weather they probably reached their tolerance level and couldn't survive and couldn't escape before they died."

Experts say that the starfish will re-populate when it warms up. By the way if you try to take one home, hold your nose. They're said to be pretty smelly. - KIIITV.

803 Manatees Have Washed Up Dead This Year In Florida.
Lowry Park Zoo Manatee Hospital veterinary staff assess Cheer, a manatee in their care after exposure to
Red Tide last spring, which is one of the main causes for this year’s deaths. SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

For the first time since records began being kept in Florida in the 1970s, the number of manatee deaths in a single year has topped 800, with two weeks remaining to the end of 2013.

Numbers released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg this week showed the number of dead manatees at 803 as of Dec. 13. That's about 16 percent of the state's estimated population of 5,000 manatees.

And 173 of the dead were breeding-age female manatees, Martine DeWit of the institute's Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory said Thursday.

Although it's too soon to say how this will affect the future of the species, she said, "It must have an impact to lose these important breeding females."

For comparison, last year's total number of manatee deaths was 392, which is more in line with what's normal.

The old record for manatee deaths, set in 2010, resulted from a lengthy cold snap that killed hundreds of manatees, pushing that year's number of deaths to 766. That cold snap mostly affected younger manatees that had not yet attained breeding age, DeWit said.

This year's record die-off was driven by two causes — one of which remains a mystery.

First a massive bloom of Red Tide algae along the state's southwestern coast caused 276 deaths early in the year. Red Tide has been around for centuries and has killed manatees before. But this year was the worst Red Tide die-off ever recorded.

Meanwhile, a mysterious ailment has been killing manatees in the Indian River Lagoon on the state's east coast. That's been going on since last year but hit a fever pitch in the spring. Twenty-five died in March.

All told, 117 manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since July 2012, including one that died this month, according to Kevin Baxter, spokesman for the state marine science laboratory. No one can explain the die-off, which appears to be unprecedented.

Scientists are also baffled as to why scores of dolphins and pelicans died in the lagoon too, or whether there is any connection among the three unusual events.

The deaths of the three species may be a result of pollution-fueled algae blooms that wiped out some 47,000 acres of sea grass in the 156-mile-long lagoon that stretches along the state's Atlantic Coast.

Manatees normally eat sea grass, but with the sea grass gone they turned to less healthful sources of nutrition. They ate a reddish seaweed called Gracilaria. Tests have found "a suite of toxins" on the Gracilaria, but there is no confirmation that that's what killed the manatees. And that would not normally affect dolphins and pelicans, which eat fish, not sea grass.

There was one piece of good news in the figures. This year, 71 manatees have been killed by boats. That's down from the 81 that were killed by boats in 2012 and well below the record of 95 in 2002.

FAST FACTS: Through the years -  A decade of Florida manatee deaths.

2004: 276

2005: 396

2006: 417

2007: 317

2008: 337

2009: 429

2010: 766

2011: 453

2012: 392

2013: 803 (as of Dec. 13)

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg

- Tampa Bay Times.

Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Up On The Shores Of Sparks Marina, Nevada.
Thousands of dead fish lined the beach along the north end of the Sparks Marina on Sunday, prompting Nevada wildlife officials to suspect low oxygen levels in the water of causing the kill.

Water tests showed that low levels of oxygen were confined to the cove area of the marina in the shallow water, said Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Because levels were about one-third what they are supposed to be, the focus of the water testing will be on that, Healy said.

“If it continues, we’re going to have to look into other causes...”, Healy said.
Despite year-round fishing in the marina, people are advised not to eat the fish until an investigation is complete, Healy said.

The department has been receiving reports of fish that have be struggling in the cove of the marina, Healy said. The department received the first report of struggling fish this past Tuesday, officials said.

WATCH: Interview with Nevada wildlife official: Thousands of fish are dead in Sparks Marina: Thousands of dead trout, catfish and bass line the north end of the Sparks Marina on Sunday in Northern Nevada.

“Then in the last 24 to 48 hours, between Saturday and Sunday, the fish kill really picked up speed,” Healy said.

The low oxygen levels have cost the marina trout, bass and catfish, he said.
Chris Crookshanks, fisheries biologist for the department, said he spent Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., picking up dead fish and tossing them in the trash.

“It’s happened on a small scale, but nothing like this,” Crookshanks said of the marina’s waters.

Healy was not sure how long the testing would take or if fish would continue to die.
Low oxygen levels aren’t uncommon in the summer months, Healy said. The heat causes algae to grow, affecting the oxygen in the water, he said.

“Well none of that applies here because we’re in the middle of December, nearing Christmastime,” Healy said.

Sparks resident Michael Jones, who lives across from the marina, said he’d never seen a fish kill at the Sparks Marina, 300 Howard Drive.

He and his family have been visiting the marina once a week for years, he said.

“I think it’s kind of gross,” he said of the kill. “You can smell the water, and I wouldn’t get it in,” Jones said.  - RGJ.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Latest Incidents Of Fireballs Across The United States - Daytime Fireball Over Western Montana; Massive Fireball Fragments Seen Over Minnesota And Indianapolis; Second Large Fireball Explodes Over Portland, Oregon In ONE Month; Meteor Event Results In Loud Boom Over Brainerd Lakes Area In Minnesota; Mysterious Loud Boom Rattles, Rolls Most Of Texas City; Over 1,400 Reports In JUST 48 HOURS From American Coast To Coast Of Multiple Fireballs, Loud Booms, Ground Shaking, House Shaking And Explosions; And Strange Booming Noises Mystify Vermont Residents!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Here are several reports of recent sightings of fireballs in the skies over the United States:

© Chystene Garagliano

Daytime Fireball Over Western Montana.
It came from the sky, and the burning question is, what was it? Reporter Jacqueline Quynh took a look at the reported fireball that some saw Friday morning in Western Montana.

We got the above photo from Chystene Garagliano from Stevensville, who snapped the picture around 9:30 a.m. Friday morning. Some folks said it looked like a big green meteor.

"From what you showed me, it's probably not aliens," Western Montana Astronomical Society President Nicholos Wethington observed.

We showed photos of the object to Wethington at the SpectrUM Discovery Center. He heads a group of people who share info from observations in the sky.

"The most interesting about the ones you showed me was that the trajectory of the meteor was pretty much straight down," Wethington said.

He says typically meteors are seen as something described as shooting stars across the sky. "I'm somewhat doubtful it's part of the Geminids," he said.

A falling satellite might have looked different. "And those make really fantastic like almost firework levels of colors when they break up, so they'll break up, and they're also not as solid as a piece of rock.

He thinks the pictures look more like a dense rock - or in other words space debris.

WATCH: Daytime fireball photographed in Western Montana.

"There were other reports from around the Midwest. It's likely that something broke up that we are not aware of and it just broke up and scattered as the earth's turning," Wethington told us.

Though it looks like a piece of the sky fell, Wethington says it doesn't look alarming. In fact he says if he can get more information, a meteorite hunting trip might be worthwhile.

Wethington recommends submitting any photos you may have to the American Meteor Society, which researches meteor astronomy. - KPAX.

Massive Fireball Fragments Seen Over Minnesota And Indianapolis.
Minnesota, Indianapolis fireball meteor, approx. 22:30 CST, 27 Dec. 2013© LunarMeteoriteHunter / Google Earth

Initial Meteor Sighting Reports

27 Dec. 2013 - Tiffany, Stillwater, Minnesota, USA 20:33:00
4 secs duration. West sky, shot straight down. No sound, bright light with orange and blue and green bursts. Less bright than sun, slightly. It seemed so close, like it could have been a firework a neighborhood over, but it was no firework. It shot straight down fast out of the sky. Seemed so close.
27 Dec. 2013 - Jessica, Tintah, MN, USA 2230 CST
5 secs duration. S-N. Blue, very bright, brighter than the moon. Lit up the car. Largest/brightest I've seen!
27 Dec. 2013 - Pamela Belknap St. Paul, MN USA 10:35 pm CST
5 secs duration. N to S. No sound, bright white, becoming bright green with some red. Very bright, larger than Venus. North from St Paul.
27 Dec. 2013 - Kevin, Burnsville, Minnesota 10.30 pm
5 seconds duration. East to north-north west. Green like a big firework. Left a trail of sparks.
27 Dec. 2013 - Chris Gaza, ia, usa 22:30:00
5 seconds duration. Overhead, straight down. Green fireball. Very bright, like fireworks, with a fire trail. Appeared to hit ground a mile from my house.
27 Dec. 2013 - Courtney Hoden, Missouri Valley, IN, USA 10.15 pm Central
10 seconds duration. I was looking north. It seemed to fall straight down. Green-orange, bright as a very bright moon. Parts were falling off. Orange sparks It was very large. Seemed to fall not streak across the sky.
- Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Second Large Fireball Explodes Over Portland, Oregon In ONE Month.
A strange, fiery sight spotted in the skies over the Willamette Valley Wednesday morning caused quite the buzz, with initial reports suggesting perhaps a meteor or burning space junk.

Jim Todd, Planetarium Manager at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry says original photos suggested to him it might have been a meteor fireball, but he has since seen additional photos that suggest it was instead a jet contrail that created an optical illusion by reflecting light from the rising sun.

WATCH: Exploding fireball over Portland.

A number of residents snapped photos of the scene, and KATU photojournalist Mike Warner also took a short video of the trail while he was flying in their station's helicopter. He said he and the helicopter pilot were over Interstate 205 at the Clackamas Town Center between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. and spotted the odd sight while looking east.

According to U.S. Strategic Command, no man-made objects reentered the atmosphere in our area on Wednesday, which excluded the possibility that some space junk fell to earth. - Komono News.

Meteor Event Results In Loud Boom Over Brainerd Lakes Area In Minnesota.
Still from security camera footage of the fireball meteor seen across the Midwest last Friday 27 December, 2013.

Residents in the Brainerd lakes area reported seeing flashes of light streaking across the sky and hearing a boom that rattled homes and buildings, and meteorologists say the reports are consistent with a meteor event.

The reports started flowing in to authorities on Friday between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., the Brainerd Dispatch reported. Some residents said they saw a turquoise streak light up the sky, and others say a bright light illuminated their homes, even darkened rooms where the drapes were closed.

There's been no confirmation of a meteor, said Kevin Kraujalis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. However, the reports seem consistent with what happens when a meteor enters the atmosphere, he said.

"There's no other explanation," Kraujalis said. He added that there were reports of meteor sightings the previous night in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

It's possible there will never be confirmation. If there were a meteor, it may have burned up completely in the atmosphere. If it broke into pieces, the fragments might never be found, particular since the sightings occurred in a rural area that's not densely populated.

One factor in favor of finding it, though, is the fact that there's a foot of snow on the ground, Kraujalis said Monday.

WATCH: Possible meteor streaks across Midwestern skies.

"There'd probably be some sort of indentation in the snow," he said. But fragments aren't found before the snow melts they might end up nestled among other stones and may or may not look different enough to be distinguishable.

Melissa Hanson and her husband were driving on Highway 25 when a bright turquoise light flashed across the sky and was visible for about four seconds.

"I had to ask my husband to slap me because I could not believe what I had just seen," she said.

Around the area, residents called police to report a loud boom that shook their homes and rattled their windows.

In East Gull Lake, Jennie Kavanaugh and her husband were in bed with the drapes close when a flash lit up the inside of their home. A few seconds later they heard a boom.

"We thought it must have been someone setting off fireworks," she said. "We didn't hear or see anything after that, but it was crazy."

Meteors sometimes cause sonic booms if they're traveling faster than the speed of sound. - Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Mysterious Loud Boom Rattles, Rolls Most Of Texas City.
A loud boom Sunday evening sent many people out of their homes and sent emergency crews scouring the city for answers.

The city's 911 system was flooded with calls around 630PM from people all over town, who either heard the boom, or had their homes shake from the sound wave. Reports of the boom stretch from the Rodd Field and Yorktown area to downtown and many places in between.

WATCH: Loud boom rattles Texas city.


But after an extensive search of the area, no evidence of an explosion or fire was ever found.

No one knows for sure where the boom came from or what caused it. It's quite possible that the sound might have been a sonic boom from a passing aircraft. An investigation is underway. - KRISTV.

Over 1,400 Reports In JUST 48 HOURS From American Coast To Coast Of Multiple Fireballs, Loud Booms, Ground Shaking, House Shaking And Explosions.
Massive ground shaking meteor explodes over Minnesota. Daytime fireballs reported in Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, California, Nevada and more.

Reports from the U.S. are coast to coast and other parts of the world.

WATCH: Multiple fireballs across the United States.

AMS Report sightings HERE.
Big Bolide Alert - Report sightings HERE
Dash cam captures meteor speeding through Thursday's sky

Strange Booming Noises Mystify Vermont Residents.
Strange booming noises were reported across the Champlain Valley Monday night, mystifying and even scaring Vermont residents who heard them.

"Extremely alarming," said Christy Morgan of Colchester, who told New England Cable News she heard a bizarre noise. "It was very violent and very intense, and only [lasted] a second."

Morgan said the sound terrified her because she thought it was an explosion. It struck around 7 p.m., Morgan said. "[It was] like somebody had pushed their refrigerator over onto its side and it was a violent crash and the whole house shook," she remembered.

WATCH: Strange booming noises mystify Vermont residents.

Morgan said there was no sign anything had gone wrong in the house or outside of it. Others around the Champlain Valley reported hearing strange noises too; several took to social media sites to describe the noises that were puzzling them.

"They're called cryoseisms," said Larry Becker, Vermont's state geologist.

Becker said cryoseisms, often known as frost quakes, are caused when water underground freezes rapidly and expands in the kind of sharp temperature drops we've seen recently. Soil and rock splinter and break apart, resulting in a popping sound and vibrations, Becker said. "You can feel them at the felt level if they're very close to where you are in your local area, but generally you wouldn't expect to get any kind of damage out of them," he added.

Gib Brown, who works as both a geology and physics educator and as a meteorologist at NECN partner station WPTZ-TV, said he heard a cryoseism Monday, too. "I thought a tree fell on my house," Brown recalled. "I looked outside, I looked up and down the street, couldn't see anything. It had to have been a cryoseism."

Brown likened the phenomenon to the way potholes can be formed by freezing water, except under the earth, where their invisibility adds to their mystery. Brown called the frost quakes fairly rare but not wildly unusual. "I would say the numbers this year are way above average," Brown said.

Brown agreed with Becker in saying the frost quakes are unlikely to cause damage. "It's not dangerous," Brown said of the booms. "They are pretty rare, but in the Northeast they're not all that unusual. As a matter of fact, on Christmas day night they had a large cryoseism in Toronto and hundreds of thousands of people heard and it sounded like thunder to a lot of people up there."

Christy Morgan said she is glad to know the gunshot-like blast she heard was likely nothing more than mother nature at work. "It makes a lot of sense," Morgan said.

Morgan said she'll be keeping her ears open for more cryoseisms. "I wouldn't mind hearing it again," she said, smiling. - NECN.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: "Every Bird Would Come In More Paralyzed Than The One Before It" - Bald Eagle Deaths In Utah Alarm And Mystify Scientists?!

December 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Bald eagles are dying in Utah - 20 in the past few weeks alone - and nobody can figure out why.

Hundreds of the majestic birds - many with wing spans of 7 feet or more - migrate here each winter, gathering along the Great Salt Lake and feasting on carp and other fish that swim in the nearby freshwater bays.

Earlier this month, however, hunters and farmers across five counties in northern and central Utah began finding the normally skittish raptors lying listless on the ground. Many suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis in the legs, feet and wings.

Many of the eagles were brought to the mammoth Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, where Buz Marthaler - a longtime animal caretaker - and other handlers tried to save the birds. Within 48 hours most were dead.

"It's just hard to have your national bird in your arms, going through seizures in a way it can't control - when you can see it's pain but don't know what's happening to it," said Marthaler, 56, co-founder of the facility in Ogden.

"As a human being, you just have problems with that. And when you lose one, it just grabs your heart."

State wildlife specialists are also baffled. For weeks, officials have sent birds for necropsies at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., hoping the results would offer clues.

They began to rule out obvious possibilities: The birds were not shot by hunters, and officials don't believe the birds were poisoned. "There doesn't seem to be anything suspicious in that regard," said Mitch Lane, a conservation officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who has responded to numerous reports of downed or sick eagles.

At first, the agency's disease scientists guessed that the illness could be encephalitis, which is caused by the West Nile virus, but later ruled out that possibility. And although many sick eagles tested positive for lead, researchers did not think that it was killing the birds.

Officials suggest the eagle die-off is possibly connected to the deaths of thousands of eared grebes that began in Utah in November. Eagles are known to prey on the small shore birds. Because the grebes are thought to have died from avian cholera, many scientists theorize that the eagles became sick from feeding on infected grebes. Officials still don't know why the shore birds became sick.

"We're getting closer to an answer," Lane said, adding that officials would meet this week to continue investigating the mystery.

Meanwhile, a new ailing bald eagle surfaces almost daily.

Scott Isaacson, 59, an attorney who lives in the town of Farmington, said he was feeding his chickens one night this month when he spotted an eagle on the ground under a cottonwood tree where he was used to seeing seven or eight birds perched in the branches. "I've never seen one on the ground," he said.

He called wildlife officials, who told him to approach bird; if it was healthy, it would fly off. The bird skittered into a nearby pond.

"It was really sad to see this graceful creature, with its beautiful white head, its wings spread out in the water," he said.

Wildlife officials later nabbed the bird, which was hissing and clawing as it was scooped up in a net.

Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Utah officials say 700 to 1,200 winter here each year. "Everybody here loves the eagles," Isaacson said. "Our school is named Eagle Bay Elementary and our church is the Eagle Shore Church."

Many sick eagles were brought to Marthaler's facility in dog carriers. Workers handled them with Kevlar-lined gloves to avoid being sliced by the powerful talons.

"In an average year, we might get one or two, but we've received nine so far, and five of those have died," Marthaler said. "The other four are still in our care."

Some days have been especially hard on the staff. "Every bird would come in more paralyzed than the one before it," Marthaler said. "They couldn't move their legs. Their wings were weak. Their heads would jerk with tremors. It was difficult to watch."

The retired Air Force member said it's often difficult to determine the ages of adult eagles. "With their plumage, they can be 5 or 20; it's hard to tell," he said.

Officials at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have their own theories about the sickness. Some point to radiation from Japan after the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. "We aren't ruling out anything," Marthaler said. A call from Idaho shed new light: A wildlife official said bald eagles there were also getting sick, suggesting that the birds were arriving in Utah already in bad heath.

The most recent eagle to arrive with Marthaler was a juvenile. "He was in the worst condition of all of them," he said. "He wasn't even able to stand. When we left for the night, he was lying down and you had to look close to see if he was still breathing."

The next morning, the bird was standing again. "He's still with us," Marthaler said. "And that gives us a bit of hope." - PHYSORG.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Massive Fireball Seen Over Iowa - Hundreds Of Reports Received By The American Meteor Society (AMS)!

December 31, 2013 - SPACE - A very huge fireball in the Iowa skies awed and amazed several witnesses in Des Moines and across the U.S. Midwest. There were hundreds of reports received by the American Meteor Society (AMS), of a bright ball of fire streaking across the night sky. Experts agree that is very likely a meteor entering and burning up in our atmosphere.

The AMS is a non-profit organization that collects information and reports on any possible meteor sightings. A total of 460 people filed reports with the AMS on the Iowa incident, mostly coming from the area around the Minnesota and Iowa border.

The massive fireball caught the attention of many Iowa residents and the event was even captured on a street camera in the City of North Liberty. According to the AMS, a very bright meteor is actually called a “fireball.” The AMS defines a fireball as an object with about the same brightness as the planet Venus in the evening or early morning sky.

As soon as people witness the huge fireball, posts began appearing in social media feeds. People in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois also reported seeing the fireball in the sky. None of the witnesses reported hearing any sound neither before, during, nor after they saw the fireball streaking across the sky.

The National Weather Service’s, Kurt Kotenberg, said they are poring over all the reports of the fireball appearing around 5:40 p.m. Thursday. Kotenberg finds it interesting that Venus was visible in the night sky right after sunset when the reports started coming in.

Not all people think that the huge fireball over Iowa was a meteor. Skeptics questioned witnesses if the sighting could have been a falling satellite or some sort of space junk. Most of the witnesses stood firm saying that what they saw was a meteor or a meteorite. The fireball went from a bright light to suddenly disappearing in the sky, a characteristic of meteors entering and burning up in our atmosphere.

According to experts there are thousands of these types of fireballs seen all day and night. Although the fireball did not appear to be a meteor shower, it could have possibly been what is considered a “shooting star.”

While the National Weather Service is still investigating what the fireball actually was, they do think that it will be extremely hard to come to any concrete conclusion due to the lack of detailed information contained in the reports. However, the weather service did catch security camera footage of the event occurring, from cameras installed on the weather service facilities.

WATCH:  Huge fireball seen over Iowa.

The Science Center of Iowa’s, Richard Miles, said that it could have been a good sized bright fireball meteor, but something such as this could also be caused by falling space debris as well.

Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Iowa, Steven Spangler, said that humans have been launching a lot of stuff into space for the last 56 years. When this space junk falls back to earth, it can sometimes resemble a meteor streaking a trail of fire across the sky.

So far it’s impossible to get a definitive answer from experts as to whether the huge fireball over Iowa was likely a meteor or not. - Guardian LV.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: NASA Declares That SOMETHING BIG Has Happened - The Sun Has "Flipped Upside Down" As New Magnetic Cycle Begins!

December 31, 2013 - SUN - The sun has "flipped upside down", with its north and south poles reversed to reach the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, NASA has said.

The sun’s magnetic field has fully reversed its polarity, marking the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24,
which will be completed in 11 years time

Now, the magnetic fields will once again started moving in opposite directions to begin the completion of the 22 year long process which will culminate in the poles switching once again.

"A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event," said NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips.

"The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the 'heliosphere') extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space."

To mark the event, NASA has released a visualisation of the entire process.

WATCH:  The Sun Reverses its Magnetic Poles.

At the beginning, in 1997 the video shows the sun in Solar Cycle 23 with its positive polarity on the top (the green lines), and the negative polarity on the bottom (the purple lines).

Each set of lines gradually move toward the opposite pole, showing a complete flip around 2002, completing the sun's previous cycle.

Both set of lines representing the opposing magnetic fields then begin to work their way back, to culminate in the latest flip.

"At the height of each magnetic flip, the sun goes through periods of more solar activity, during which there are more sunspots, and more eruptive events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections," said NASA’s Karen C. Fox.

"Cosmic rays are also affected," added  Dr. Phillips. "These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy."  - Independent.