Sunday, December 14, 2014

FIRE IN THE SKY: Dazzling Performance - Geminids Meteor Shower Peaking This Weekend As Earth Enters A Stream Of Debris From Rock Comet 3200 Phaeton!

Reuters/Daniel Aguilar

December 14, 2014 - SPACE - The Geminids shooting stars have reached their brightest point this weekend, and will continue shining vividly until the middle of next week in the Northern Hemisphere.

Last night was the best time to enjoy the Geminids meteor shower, which has been lighting up the skies above the US, the EU and Russia since last weekend. The meteoric performance will continue until Tuesday or Wednesday evening, according to NASA.

In the UK, weather conditions have been nearly perfect, despite some clouds hiding the stars occasionally, and the light of the three-quarters-full moon.

The meteor activity was busiest in the small hours, with up to 150 meteors per hour. 2 – 3 a.m. local time is the time when the radiant – the place where the meteors originate from – is overhead. One should gaze at the radiant near the bright star, Castor, in the Gemini constellation that give their name to the meteor shower.

"The Geminids are very strange because they hit Earth sideways,"
Slooh telescope astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "It’s the difference between being in a car and slamming head on into somebody as opposed to someone backing into you sideways. These meteors hit us gently.”

The spectacular Geminids are highly anticipated every year, and since they were first seen in the 1860s they have been getting even brighter, according to observers.

What is remarkable about them is that they can shine in different colors - usually it’s white, but yellow, blue, green and red can also be spotted.

WATCH: NASA's ScienceCasts - Embers from a Comet.

WATCH: Geminids Meteor Shower - Hawaii 2014.

Apart from the usual tips of avoiding light pollution and being patient, experienced stargazers advise to grab a comfortable chair and a blanket, and to share the unforgettable experience with friends and family.

The rather slow-moving Geminid meteors originate from the 3200 Phaethon asteroid. Along with the Quadrantids, they are the only major meteor showers that don’t come from a comet. - RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Massive Wall Of Fire In Australia - Blaze Swallows Up Over 120 HECTARES, Encroaches On Perth; Mass Evacuation Underway! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

This is the view of the bushfire at from Brabham.

December 14, 2014 - PERTH, AUSTRALIA
- Towering flames near Perth, Western Australia (population 1.5 million) prompted the evacuation of homes on Sunday. Water-bombing helicopters and several fire crews battled the fire through the day, which has yet to be contained.

The fire started in Whitman Park at 1.11pm local time on Sunday threatening homes and lives, according to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES). Fire officials added the cause of the blaze is unknown.

An evacuation warning was issued for homes in the city of Swan – a Perth suburb - earlier on Sunday. After 8:30pm local time, it was downgraded as the fire was under control.

"I would estimate there might've been about 20 properties under threat at one stage,
" North Coast Metropolitan Superintendent Allan Riley said, as quoted by ABC News.

at continues

Incredible. Fire raging out of control at , Perth, via @tweetinplatypus

Choppers picking up water from lakes to fight fire

Bush fire in perth omg

bushfire as seen from Viveash in the city of Swan

Screenshot from Google Maps

fire contained but animal impact as yet unknown eg.deaths,lost joeys,injuries @720perth @ABCemergency

However, DFES spokesman Ryan Murray stressed the fire is still burning. "The situation is the fire's not contained. It's gone over 120 hectares. The fire has settled, crews will be working throughout the night to contain it," Murray said.

DFES warned there is a lot of smoke in the area, with the fire still burning in Whiteman Park. The fire front is 2 kilometers long and is moving slowly in a northeasterly direction, the warning stated.

WATCH: Massive blaze swallows 120 hectares, encroaches on Perth.

Fire officials called on residents to stay alert. An evacuation center has been set up at Altone Park Recreation Centre.

Due to Australia’s hot and dry climate, bushfires are rather common in the hotter months of the year. - RT.

WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: Full Scale Of Plastic Pollution In The World's Oceans Revealed For First Time - OVER FIVE TRILLION Pieces Of Plastic!

Plastic pieces in the ocean damage wildlife and enter the food chain when ingested by fish. Photograph: Bryce Groark/Alamy

December 14, 2014 - EARTH
- Over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans says most comprehensive study to date on plastic pollution around the world

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world's oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them "micro plastics" measuring less than 5mm.

The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world's oceans.

Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

This is problematic due to the chemicals contained within plastics, as well as the pollutants that plastic attract once they are in the marine environment.

"We saw turtles that ate plastic bags and fish that ingested fishing lines," said Julia Reisser, a researcher based at the University of Western Australia. "But there are also chemical impacts. When plastic gets into the water it acts like a magnet for oily pollutants.

"Bigger fish eat the little fish and then they end up on our plates. It's hard to tell how much pollution is being ingested but certainly plastics are providing some of it."

The researchers collected small plastic fragments in nets, while larger pieces were observed from boats. The northern and southern sections of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans were surveyed, as well as the Indian ocean, the coast of Australia and the Bay of Bengal.

The vast amount of plastic, weighing 268,940 tonnes, includes everything from plastic bags to fishing gear debris.

While spread out around the globe, much of this rubbish accumulates in five large ocean gyres, which are circular currents that churn up plastics in a set area. Each of the major oceans have plastic-filled gyres, including the well-known 'great Pacific garbage patch' that covers an area roughly equivalent to Texas.

Reisser said traversing the large rubbish-strewn gyres in a boat was like sailing through "plastic soup."

"You put a net through it for half an hour and there's more plastic than marine life there," she said. "It's hard to visualise the sheer amount, but the weight of it is more than the entire biomass of humans. It's quite an alarming problem that's likely to get worse."

The research found that the gyres themselves are likely to contribute to the problem, acting as "shredders" to the plastic before dispersing it.

"Our findings show that the garbage patches in the middle of the five subtropical gyres are not the final resting places for the world's floating plastic trash," said Marcus Eriksen, another of the report's co-authors. "The endgame for micro-plastic is interactions with entire ocean ecosystems."

The research, the first of its kind to pull together data on floating plastic from around the world, will be used to chart future trends in the amount of debris in the oceans.

But researchers predict the volume will increase due to rising production of throwaway plastic, with only 5% of the world's plastic currently recycled.

"Lots of things are used once and then not recycled," Reisser said. "We need to improve our use of plastic and also monitor plastics in the oceans so we get a better understanding of the issue.

"I'm optimistic but we need to get policy makers to understand the problem. Some are doing that - Germany has changed the policy so that manufacturers are responsible for the waste they produce. If we put more responsibility on to the producer then that would be part of the solution." - Guardian.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Landslide In Central Java, Indonesia - Village Of Jemblung Destroyed; At Least 20 Dead, Dozens Still Missing; Hundreds Of Homes Leveled! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Indonesian soldiers and rescue team members walk through the mud after a landslide hit the village of Sampang in Banjarnegara, December 13, 2014. 
© REUTERS/Idhad Zakaria/Antara Foto

December 14, 2014 - INDONESIA
- Authorities in Indonesia say heavy lifting equipment is now being used to search for more than 80 people missing in a landslide in central Java.

At least 20 people died and dozens were injured in the incident in Jemblung village on Friday.

The search has been hampered by heavy rain and difficulty accessing the disaster site.

Flash floods and fatal landslides triggered by seasonal downpours are common in Indonesia.

Rescuers were forced to dig with their bare hands until tractors and bulldozers arrived on Sunday.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the country's national disaster agency, said some of the roads leading to the site had been cleared.

"Today the search for survivors will be carried out using heavy excavation equipment. The landslide has blocked road access since yesterday", he said.

Rescuers, including local residents, are still hoping to find survivors

Landslides are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, with around half the population at risk

Indonesian soldiers and rescue team members lift a cattle trapped in the mud after a landslide hit the village of Sampang in Banjarnegara, December 13, 2014.
© REUTERS/Idhad Zakaria/Antara Foto

Over 1,000 rescuers, including police and soldiers, are involved in the operation.

Disaster agency officials said at least 11 people were seriously injured and in hospital.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is due to travel to the area on Sunday to meet survivors.

"I am in grief over the landslide that struck Jemblung village," he said in a statement.

WATCH: Village destroyed by deadly landslide near Jakarta, Indonesia.

"Landslides can be a lesson to us, on the importance of maintaining environmental balance," he added.

The country's national disaster agency said hundreds of houses had been destroyed by the landslide, with almost 600 residents moved to temporary shelters.

Many of the inhabitants of the chain of 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

Authorities say around half the population is at risk from landslides. - BBC.