Friday, September 28, 2012

"Great" Comet ISON Will Be Visible in Daytime Sky Next Year

Photo of Comet ISON taken November 10, 2013, shows blue coma and a double tail! Photo by Michael Jäger of Jauerling Austria

 Update: December 31, 2013: Is ISON still there or isn't it? The general public is still getting the runaround regarding if Comet ISON is still alive, but a recent posting from an amateur astronomer claims to have discovered what is believed to be the debris cloud of the comet (above photograph).

Update: Although currently not as bright as astronomers predicted it would be at this time, Comet ISON is still putting on a spectacular show. Scientists believe it will survive its close encounter with the sun and perhaps be visible to the naked eye by mid to late November, 2013!

A recently discovered comet will make an extremely dramatic flyby past Earth and give our planet a spectacular show.

Comet ISON was discovered this week by Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. The new comet is officially known as C/2012 S1, with ISON an acronym for the International Scientific Optical Network, the telescope used to discover the comet.

At  its perihelion (its closest point to the sun), due on November 28, 2013, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the comet will come within 800,000 miles of the sun’s surface and could evolve into a dazzling celestial body, possibly bright enough to be visible in broad daylight. [edit:] National Geographic has stated on their official site that the comet WILL be the brightest in human history and will be brighter than a full moon.]

The possibility of the comet being visible in the daytime skies will make it one of the most exciting comets to whiz past the earth in a long while. Comet ISON will be barely visible to the unaided eye when it is in the predawn sky positioned against the stars of Leo in October 2013. ISON will then travel north after perihelion and become visible during December both in the evening sky after sunset and in the morning sky before sunrise in certain latitudes of the planet. Just how bright it will be and how long the tail may get during this time frame is not yet known, but it is possible it will be one of the greatest comets in history, if it does not break up while approaching the sun, as comets tend to do.

The prophet Nostradamus had quite a bit to say about comets and the 2012 "time frame":
Quatrain II.46
After great misery for mankind an even greater one approaches, when the great cycle of the centuries is renewed. It will rain blood, milk, famine, war and disease. In the sky will be seen a fire, dragging a tail of sparks.
Quatrain II.41
The great star for seven days will burn, The cloud will cause two suns to appear: The big mastiff all night will howl, When the great pontiff changes countries.

The great star in the quatrain is believed to be a comet while the "cloud" is the comet's coma or tail.

Mother Shipton also made similar prophecies:

A fiery dragon will cross the sky - 7A: The first comet cluster appears.
six times before the earth shall die (has died). - 8: It has appeared 6 times before. (Comet ISON is believed to be an "offspring" of the Great Comet of 1680)
Mankind will tremble and frightened be - 2: Pervasive global fear, 1926 - 2026.
for the six heralds in this prophecy. - 1: Mass death - Subject of this Prophecy. 

Simulation of how Comet ISON will look in the sky during daylight hours. Photo credit Universe Today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No More Jimmy Choo's: Imelda Marcos' Famous Shoe Collection in Ruins

She once possessed the world's most famous shoe collection, but the former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos would be broken hearted to see her shoes today...

It seems that years of neglect have left the 1200 pair plus collection of fashionable footwear in a severe state of disrepair. Boxes of items once belonging to Imelda and her deceased husband Ferdinand Marcos—the longtime dictator of the Asian nation who died in exile in Hawaii in 1989—have been ruined by water damage as well as termites and mildew.

Ironically, many of the items—including some of the First Lady's lavish ball gowns— had been transferred to the National Museum in the capital of Manila for safekeeping two years ago after high levels of humidity and dangerous mold threatened the collection where they were once stored at the National Palace, where the Marcos' resided during their long tenure.

The collection of shoes once boasted more than 3000 pairs and were the object of great media attention after the Marcos' were ousted following a military coup d'état in 1986. The shoe collection was widely seen as an example of  flamboyant excess and political corruption exhibited by the couple, who had been in power since 1965. 

Imelda Marcos, who was dubbed "The Iron Butterfly" by the press, is now 83-years-old and returned to her homeland in 1991 after five years of exile. She is currently a member of the country's House of Representatives. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Weather Outside Is Frightful: Snow Discovered Falling on Mars

It would appear that Martians can get into the Christmas spirit after scientists have discovered snow falling on the Red Planet!

A spacecraft orbiting Mars has detected  snow comprised of carbon dioxide falling on the planet, making it the only body in the solar system known to host this strange weather phenomenon—that scientists are aware of as of now.

The snow was detected falling on the planet's south pole during the Martian winter by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) between 2006-2007 but was only recently discovered by scientists sifting through the voluminous amounts of information collected by the satellite. The planet's south pole maintains a frozen carbon dioxide ice cap year round.

The incredible find means that Mars actually experiences two different types of the powder stuff. In 2008, NASA's Phoenix lander observed snow comprised of water and ice—which we earthlings are quite familiar with —falling near the planet's north pole.

No word if any billionaire adventurer is planning on installing a ski resort on the lonely planet...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Scientists: Record Hot Summer Could Lead to Record Cold Winter

The shocking Arctic ice melt witnessed this year may bring about an extra-cold and snowy winter to some areas in the Northern Hemisphere, scientists are now warning.

Satellites have observed an unprecedented melting of the Arctic ice sheet this year, far exceeding any forecast that computer models had calculated. The Greenland ice sheet melted by a staggering 90% over the course of four days, an event that was not believed to be theoretically possible. Scientists and climatologists are now scrambling to analyze data that has made practically all of their research over the past decade useless.

Scientists and experts must now try to make sense of the accelerated nature of the dramatic and undeniable events rapidly transforming our planet into an unrecognizable eco-system that is happening before our very eyes. The massive melting of the Arctic ice sheet has occurred in relatively normal weather conditions, with only one strong summer storm to hasten the break-up of the pack ice.

Scientists now believe that the shifting of the ice pack and the release of fresh water into the oceans will have a dramatic impact on global weather patterns. When there's less ice in the ocean, atmospheric pressure gradients change, claims one researcher. That means less of the wind that carries warmer air into the atmosphere, where it would ordinarily disperse over land masses, bringing a natural thaw to certain locations during the dead of winter. This could mean an extra-cold and snowy winter for parts of the Northern Hemisphere, with possible record-breaking snow storms paralyzing entire regions.

Climate experts are still scratching their heads to explain this year's unprecedented heat wave that saw summer like temperatures for a large part of the northern US and Canada during the winter months that lead into a scorching summer heat wave and record-breaking drought that parched a significant area of the United States. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dangerous Super Typhoon Sanba Eyes Japan and South Korea

A large and highly dangerous typhoon has rapidly gained strength in the western Pacific, meteorologists are warning. Super typhoon Sanba, currently positioned 690 miles south of Japan, has peak winds of 155 mph—the equivalent of a strong Category 4 hurricane—and  on the cusp of developing into a dangerous Category 5 storm, the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane strength scale.

At present, the massive storm is headed due north which would take it on a path very close to the Japanese island of Okinawa on late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning local time. The storm is expected to continue its track due north on a path toward the southern tip of South Korea on Monday.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center has issued warnings for a large area alerting residents of the destructive potential of Sanba. Forecasters say conditions in the region are favorable for an intensification of the storm over the next 24 to 36 hours.

Residents of Okinawa, Japan, have already dealt with two serious typhoons this season, Bolaven and Haikui. Weather experts fear that this storm could be far more dangerous and devastating than the previous two storms combined. Heavy amounts of rainfall and massive flooding are the primary concerns in low-lying, coastal areas, with a high storm surge anticipated due to the storm's powerful winds which could top 175 mph.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

33,000 People Flee Erupting Volcano in Guatemala

Over 33,000 citizens living near the "Volcano of Fire" (Volcan de Fuego) in the Central American nation of Guatemala have been forced to evacuate their homes after the dangerous volcano erupted violently today, sending a toxic ash cloud over three kilometers into the air and belching out rivers of hot, molten lava down its flanks.

Sergio Cabanas, the head of the country's emergency response administration, says the entire population of at least 17 villages near the volcano were evacuated, adding up to over 33,000 citizens. The nearby colonial city of Antigua— long a popular destination for international tourists— has remained in the safe zone—but experts warn that could change at a moment's notice.

The active volcano—known as Acatenango to the local populace—spewed a lava stream of more than 2000 feet down the slopes of the mountain. The ash cloud produced by the initial explosion has already drifted for miles and ash measuring up to an inch and a half has fallen to the ground in areas near the volcano. The emergency response agency warns that airplane flights in and out of the country may be affected by the ash cloud.

A large portion of the country is under an orange alert—the second highest warning—with communities within the immediate vicinity of the volcano under the more serious red alert. Experts and scientists anticipate that the volcano could continue to erupt over the next few days or as long as a few weeks.

The eruption is a part of a serious uptick in seismic activity in the region since a powerful 7.9 earthquake rocked nearby Costa Rica last week, sending panicked citizens into the streets. Only five days ago, an eruption of the San Cristobal volcano in nearby Nicaragua caused evacuation orders for almost five thousand residents, and several volcanoes in Costa Rica have had their alert levels elevated in the days since the temblor after experiencing increased activity.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Man Is an Island: 20K People Want to Become Citizens of "Nowhereisland"

The poet John Donne said "No man is an island, entire of itself" but a British artist has decided to create a unique art project by having a small, arctic island towed by boat around the world.

Dubbed "Nowhereisland" (or Nyskjaeret in Norwegian), artist Alex Hartley discovered the unmapped island off the coast of Svalbard, Norway, in 2004. (You are correct, grasshopper...Svalbard is the home of the infamous "Doomsday Seed Vault".) He then asked the Norwegian government if he could haul the 144-foot chunk of rock south, which they agreed to allow him to do.

The aim of the art project is to " encourage people to think about what it would be like to start up a completely new nation," Hartley tells The Telegraph, "to get them to make proposals for what life should be like on Nowhereisland, what the constitution should consist of, and so on."

In that vein, over 20,000 people have requested "citizenship" of Nowhereisland. After requesting to become a citizen of the tiny chunk of rock and ice, potential immigrants can then suggest measures and laws to pass, to make the "country" a unique, safe and happy place to live. Some more inspired suggestions from asylum-seekers include a ban on all telemarketers, a free after-dinner drink for all citizens as well as a national currency based not on money but rather "the ability to tell a good story".

If you would like to request citizenship of this Nirvana-in-the-making, you may visit Nowhereisland's official website here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

American Businesses Planning for Catastrophic Greek Exit from Euro

American big business is making contingency plans in case Greece leaves the Euro Zone, it has been revealed.

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch all have plans in place to get money to their employees living and working in the Mediterranean nation should the banks close suddenly, leaving American citizens stranded and without a way to access money. Merrill Lynch has plans in place to send armored trucks to go door to door with Greece's old monetary unit the drachma in the event that the country reverts back to using it in favor of the Euro.

Many experts believe that Greece—which has been teetering on the brink of complete financial collapse for the past several years—will exit the Euro monetary system as early as this Friday. The New York Times is reporting that many experts anticipate an announcement after the American markets have closed for the day on Friday, in order to prevent financial chaos from spreading around the world.

An announcement on Friday would mean that banks would have to be closed through early next week as government officials scramble to print enough of the "new" currency for its panicked citizens to use. This would undoubtedly create bank "runs", as people rush to exchange their Euros into the new currency.

American automobile manufacturer Ford Motors is so confident that the switch will take place their computers have already been programed to accept the drachma for the Euro in financial transactions. Credit card companies Visa and Mastercard have both stated officially they have back-up plans and protocols in place so that they will be prepared if other countries also decide to leave the Euro currency. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hold On: Canadian School Accidentally Names Self After Wilson Phillips Singer

A school in Canada has been left red-faced after putting up a new sign proclaiming the institute of learning was named after pop trio Wilson Phillips' singer Carnie Wilson and not the first woman appointed to the Canadian Senate Cairine Wilson.

It wasn't long after the sign was erected outside of the school in Orleans, Ottawa, before passersby began to notice the egregious error, with one vandal writing "Yup!" in big black letters with an arrow to point out the glaring mistake. 

School administrators quickly dispatched a worker out to fix the faux pas, changing Carnie to the appropriate Cairine. The school's trustee John Shea who was responsible for acquiring the new sign joked about the incident on his Facebook page, stating "I think people in Orleans are having a pretty good chuckle about it.

Obviously the school is named after [Canada's] first female senator, not the lead singer of Wilson Phillips."

Carnie Wilson is the daughter of reclusive Beach Boy's legend Brian Wilson and  a founding member of the successful pop group Wilson Phillips, who had a string of hits in the early 1990s. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jonathan Livingston Seagull Author Richard Bach Injured in Plane Crash

Richard Bach, author of the inspirational 1970s bestselling novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull, has been severely injured in a plane crash, his son James has revealed.

Bach, 76, was piloting his own plane to San Juan Island off the coast of Washington State to visit a friend when the small amphibian aircraft's landing gear clipped an electric power line causing the plane to crash on Friday afternoon. Bach was airlifted to a hospital in nearby Seattle, where he is in serious condition and is being treated for head trauma and a broken shoulder.

Bach has been an avid plane enthusiast for most of his life, which perhaps inspired him to write his classic fable about a bored seagull who searches for the meaning of life. Jonathan Livingston Seagull was an immediate bestseller when first published in 1970, going on to sell over three million copies and inspiring a popular movie of the same name.

The novella was possibly inspired by another classic fable The Little Prince written by French WWII pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who died when the airplane he was piloting disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea during a reconnaissance mission in 1944. 

Fans and friends of the author have expressed their support for Bach on his official website.  

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