Sunday, October 20, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA's All-Sky Cameras Sees 37 Fireballs Intersecting With Earth Over The Last Two Days - 25 Of Them Are Sporadics!

October 20, 2013 - SPACE - 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 Oct. 19, 2013, the network reported 9 fireballs. (8 sporadics, 1 Orionid)



On Oct. 20, 2013, the network reported 28 fireballs. (17 sporadics, 8 Orionids, 1 chi Taurid, 1 southern Taurid, 1 Leonis Minorid)



In these diagrams of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]


- Space Weather.



MAJOR ALERT: "On High Alert" - FBI Investigating Threats To Midwest Water Supply Systems!

October 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Reuters reports that the FBI and other agencies are in the process of investigating multiple threats to Midwest Water Supply Systems. Specifically, the FBI has named Wichita, Kansas as a target, but utility facilities have also been put on alert in other Midwestern cities.




(ReutersThe U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation learned of the threats in the past two days and has contacted the water supply facilities and law enforcement offices for the municipalities, said Bridget Patton, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Kansas City, Missouri.

Patton declined to discuss the nature of the threats or the number of cities affected. She said investigators had been sent out in response to the reports, but offered no details.

“We were made aware of the threat,” Patton said. “We have not been able to substantiate any of the threats.”

Wichita city officials warned employees in emails to be on guard for suspicious activities. City officials also told residents the water is safe to drink and the public will be notified immediately if this changes.

Wichita Police Lieutenant Doug Nolte said Friday that the city had taken steps to keep the city’s water supply safe, but would not describe what measures had been taken. 

(KSN News“The FBI as of our law enforcement agencies take any threats to the public personal safety very seriously,” said Bridget Patton, Media Representative for the FBI.

For the last several days, the FBI has been looking into a regional water threat.

KSN News learned the potential hazard affects four major water systems in the mid-west including Wichita.


WATCH: FBI Investigating Threats to Midwest Water Supply Systems. 





The Wichita water utility plants serve about 500,000 people, but many millions may be affected should systems in multiple Midwest cities fail or come under attack simultaneously.

In 2011 cyber security McAfee issued a warning titled In the Dark: Crucial Industries Confront Cyberattacks, in which they noted that all critical infrastructure systems connected to the internet could be compromised by rogue attacks resulting in shutdowns or malfunctions.
The sectors on which this report focuses — power, oil, gas, and water — may well be the first targets for a serious cyberattack.

What we found is that they are not ready.
 The professionals charged with protecting these systems report that the threat has accelerated — but the response has not. Cyberexploits and attacks are already widespread. Whether it is cybercriminals engaged in theft or extortion, or foreign governments preparing sophisticated exploits like Stuxnet, cyberattackers have targeted critical infrastructure.
In the case of water utilities, if hackers were to take control of the computers that maintain safe water levels and chemical treatment they could potentially poison the water supplies of millions. In such a case people could go to sleep like any normal night, wake up in the morning and have a glass of water, and be poisoned by any number of chemical or biological agents that have been released into the water supplies.

Hackers have already broken into water utility computer systems recently, despite assurances that the systems are safe. In November of 2011 a Stuxnet-style virus infected the physical components of the Springfield, Illinois water utility plant and shut down water pumps, demonstrating that not only can systems be infiltrated from outside of protected networks, but that the physical equipment can be overtaken.

But it’s not just the computer systems. There is a woeful disregard for perimeter security in and around critial infrastructure assets around the United States, including water plants.
Security around national water reservoirs may not be as safe as we thought:
In a time where people talk all the time about droughts, 21 year old Josh Seater has cost the city of Portland Oregon 8 million gallons of drinking water.

After a night on the town, a heavily intoxicated Seater began urinating a water reservoir.  “I didn’t know it was a water supply, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it, I thought it was a sewage plant”.

The cost of Josh’s drunken behavior has cost the Portland Water Bureau $36,000, as the 8 million gallons have had to be completely drained away.
While TSA gaterapes grannies in diapers at our local airports and steams ahead on expanding enhanced pat-downs and searches to all public venues including train stations, sporting events and malls, the real security holes are completely ignored.
With so many billions of dollars being spent on homeland security, Americans have been left with a false sense of security. The government tells us they are protecting us, and most people simply take this at face value.

In reality, even if the government was  efficiently deploying its resources for effectively securing critical infrastructure, the fact is that nothing can ever be 100% secure. This is evidenced by recent comments from outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who warned that a widespread cyber attack on our national power grid and other infrastructure is not only guaranteed, but imminent.

In previous comments, Napolitano, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has advised Americans to stockpile at least two (2) weeks of essential supplies, including food and fresh drinking water, citing concerns that emergency responders could be overwhelmed in the event of a widespread emergency.

Failure to prepare for short and long-term disaster could be deadly. Most Americans have about three days worth of food supplies and almost no reserve water supplies or methods for filtering water should the water supply be compromised.

As we saw with Hurricane Sandy, any disruptions to the normal flow of supplies or commerce would lead to a breakdown within 72 hours as those affected struggle to acquire limited resources. - SHTF Plan.



PLANETARY TREMORS: The Bohol 7.2 Earthquake In The Philippines Is A Warning Of Things To Come, Experts Warn - Densely Populated Areas Are Long Overdue For A Mega-Quake!

October 20, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - Experts warn that many parts of the Philippines—including the nation's densely-populated capital—are long overdue for major earthquakes, and we can't entirely be sure where the next big one will strike.

 
The USGS recorded the M7.2 earthquake last October 15 at approximately 2km northeast of the city
of Catigbian on Bohol Island, between Sagbayan and Balilihan. USGS


But one thing is for certain: it's only a matter of time.
 
Mario Aurelio, Laboratory Head of the Structural Geology and Tectonics of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) laments the lack of comprehensive knowledge about the country's numerous geologic faults.
 
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Visayas on October 15 was a relatively rare event, Aurelio notes, but other parts of the country are also due for similar quakes.
 
Earthquake-prone areas
 
“Bohol and Cebu earthquakes have been relatively rare, considering that the entire Philippine archipelago is earthquake-prone except for Palawan,” said Mario Aurelio, Laboratory Head of the Structural Geology and Tectonics of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS).
 
“('Yung Bohol at Cebu) hindi naman kasing active ng mga considered na very active faults tulad ng sa Siargao and Zambales,” said Ric Mangao, research specialist from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
 
Hidden faults
 
On Wednesday, Phivolcs said that a newly-discovered fault might be the source of the Visayas earthquake.
 
Phivolcs identified the quake's real epicenter as being located between the municipality of Catigbian and Sagbayan in Bohol, and not in the town of Carmen, as was previously thought.
 
However, Aurelio said that immediately associating the recent earthquake in Bohol with an underlying fault is still a tentative hypothesis. He said that there are many unidentified faults in the Bohol region and elsewhere, which makes the identification of the origin of the earthquake “a little bit tricky”.
 
As a parallel example, he cited the 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Northern Luzon in 1990. There were no recorded faults in the area when this quake hit, killing 1,621 people across the region.
 
Moreover, Phivolcs' reassessment of the quake's epicenter coincides with initial data from the US Geological Survey (USGS): in its summary page for the Bohol quake, the agency located the epicenter at 2km northeast of Catigbian.
 
“'Yung mga aftershock lumalabas sa East Bohol Fault,” said Mangao.
 
Fate of old churches, other buildings
 
Old churches and shrines in Bohol were not designed to be earthquake-proof.
 
“Assuming that churches in Bohol were done through sound construction practices, the damage were done not because of material but because (of the) design,” Aurelio said.
 
Old churches don't have rebars, the metal skeletons that serve as the foundation of a structure and hold it together. Instead, they were built by piling blocks of limestone, one on top of another.
 
WATCH: Restoring the churches in Bohol will take years, according to heritage documentation specialist Joel Aldor in a GMA News TV report.





Earlier this year, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum warned that many buildings, particularly in the nation's densely-populated capital, remain unassessed for physical integrity in the event of strong earthquakes.
 
“The issue though is some of the buildlings are non-engineered and most likely walang permit so they have to focus on that also,” he said.
 
Major lifelines like water and power supply, and communication means, should be strengthened to withstand fires and earthquakes.
 
Active fault line under Metro Manila
 
Meanwhile, hidden under Metro Manila is the West Valley fault line, which experts also believe is long overdue for a large quake.
 
"Ripe na gumalaw ang fault. Napakataas ng probability na gumalaw ito in the future, hindi lang natin masabi ang exact date and time," Phivolcs deputy director Bartolome Bautista said during a Senate inquiry on the country's disaster preparedness on Wednesday.
 
The earthquake fault runs from the Sierra Madre mountain range to Tagaytay, and moves every 200 to 400 years. The last time this fault moved was 200 years ago.
 
Phivolcs presented the prediction in July this year, warning Metro Manila that this quake is due to happen within our lifetimes.
 
Solidum said that preparations for the next large quake are of paramount importance.
 
Unlike storms and typhoons, earthquakes cannot be “forecast” and can only be predicted by looking at how often it happens in history. To date, there are no scientific instruments that can predict when an earthquake will occur.
 
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake, as was seen in Bohol, can shake the ground even a hundred kilometers away, meaning a tremor in Metro Manila can affect surrounding provinces. - GMA Network.



THE WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: The Ocean Is Broken - The Fish And Birds Are Missing, Hardly A Sign Of Life At All; Are We Approaching A Point Of Extinction Of Marine Life?!

October 20, 2013 - EARTH - It was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.




And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he'd had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

"There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn't catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice," Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.

"In years gone by I'd gotten used to all the birds and their noises," he said.




"They'd be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You'd see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards."

But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.

"All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship," he said.

And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.

"Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble."

But they weren't pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.

"And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish," he said.

"They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

"We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That's what they would have done with them anyway, they said.

"They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day's by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing."

Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.

No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.




If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.

The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.

"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead," Macfadyen said.

"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there, everywhere you look."

Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.

Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.

"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you'd just start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.

Not this time.

"In a lot of places we couldn't start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That's an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.

"If we did decide to motor we couldn't do it at night, only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.

"On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn't just on the surface, it's all the way down. And it's all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces the size of a big car or truck.

"We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.

"We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing through a garbage tip.




"Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits and pieces we never saw."

Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.

And something else. The boat's vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.

BACK in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms with the shock and horror of the voyage.

"The ocean is broken," he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.

Recognising the problem is vast, and that no organisations or governments appear to have a particular interest in doing anything about it, Macfadyen is looking for ideas.

He plans to lobby government ministers, hoping they might help.

More immediately, he will approach the organisers of Australia's major ocean races, trying to enlist yachties into an international scheme that uses volunteer yachtsmen to monitor debris and marine life.

Macfadyen signed up to this scheme while he was in the US, responding to an approach by US academics who asked yachties to fill in daily survey forms and collect samples for radiation testing - a significant concern in the wake of the tsunami and consequent nuclear power station failure in Japan.

"I asked them why don't we push for a fleet to go and clean up the mess," he said.

"But they said they'd calculated that the environmental damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving the debris there." - Herald Sun.





ICE AGE NOW: U.S. Midwest Will Feel 20- To 30- Degrees Colder Than Last Weekend - Cold Trend Expected To Last Through Most Of Next Week!

October 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A cold front that has moved through the Midwest early Saturday has ushered noticeably colder air into the region for the weekend; a big change from what was seen just a week ago.




Temperatures on Saturday generally ranged from the mid-40s into the mid-50s; which translates to roughly 10 degrees below normal for mid-October.

Temperatures will rebound a bit on Sunday from Iowa to Ohio with afternoon highs in the 60s; however, even colder temperatures will begin to push into Minnesota and Wisconsin as the next shot of cold air begins to move in from Canada.

This comes as a big turnaround after last weekend when temperatures averaged 10 degrees above normal across the Midwest; climbing into the lower 70s in some spots.

To add to the chill, clouds will limit any sunshine across the region with showers developing downwind of the Great Lakes.

Minnesota and Wisconsin will even have their first snowflakes of the season this weekend.




This colder air will affect hundreds of thousands planning to attend football games this weekend being held across the region.

One game in particular that will be affected on Sunday will be the Green Bay Packers playing at home against the Cleveland Browns.

While the high temperature is forecast to reach 48 on game day, factors such as cloud cover and wind will make the AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperature be held to the mid 40s.

This will make for the coldest game of the year for each team so far this season.

Additionally, the Detroit Lions will be hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon. However, Ford Field, home to the Lions, is an indoor stadium, so only the fans tailgating before the game will feel the effects of this unseasonably cold weather.

Early next week, the next shot of cold air will move in from Canada, dropping temperatures even more.

This cold trend is expected to last through most of next week with high temperatures in northern parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan to be limited to the mid- to upper 30s each day. - AccuWeather.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: 40,000 Hens To Be Killed Due To Bird Flu In New South Wales, Australia!

October 20, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Bird flu has been confirmed in a flock of 400,000 layer hens near Young in the State's west.


File photo.



However NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said the flu was the H7 Avian Influenza strain, not the highly dangerous H5N1 strain that can pass to humans and has gained worldwide attention. .

The property has been quarantined and the NSW Department of Primary Industry's "First Response Team'' was working with the property owners and the egg industry, he said.

"The remaining birds on the property will now be culled in-line with national agreements.

"Control restrictions are now in place within a 10km radius of the quarantined egg farm and extensive surveillance and tracing is now underway to ensure the virus does not spread," he said.

The NSW Food Authority has confirmed that there are no food safety issues and that poultry and eggs remain safe to eat.

Mr Roth said Australia has previously had a small number of outbreaks of H7 Avian Influenza viruses which were all quickly and successfully eradicated. - Herald Sun.




MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Shellfish Wash Ashore Dead, Causing Concern In Milford, Connecticut?!

October 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Some residents in Milford are concerned after thousands of mussels recently washed ashore along Point Beach.





Beach locals say they have never seen such a high amount of the shellfish on the shore, which has created a foul stench in the area.

Former marine biology professor Joe Schnierlein identified the shellfish as blue mussels, which he says are the mussels people cook and eat. Schnierlien's biggest concern was answering the question on how the mussels died.

WATCH: Dead mussels concern Milford residents near Point Beach. 


video



“They do not do well in fresh water, so there could have been a slug of fresh water that hit a huge colony of them,” said Schnierlein. “The fresh water killed them very quickly over a short period of time. That caused them to release and come off the rocks.”

Schnierlein said he doesn’t believe the mussels died because of toxins in the water because other species have not been found in mass quantities on the beach. - Connecticut News.



PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - 139 New Cases Of Deadly MERS Disease Reported To WHO!

October 20, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - The WHO announced the spread of deadly MERS-Cov (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) disease in Qatar.

About 139 cases of MERS-Cov have been detected worldwide with the help of lab confirmations since September 2012 and 60 deaths were reported to the WHO.


WHO was reported about 139 cases of deadly MERS-Cov disease(Middle East respiratory syndrome
coronavirus) have been detected worldwide with the help of lab confirmation since September
2012 and 60 deaths were observed. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

The WHO asked its member states to carry on analyzing and surveying for SARI (severe acute respiratory infections) and check for any unusual patterns. All the health centers are advised to be alert and careful about the issue. The health centers were also told about the value of systematic implementation of IPC (infection prevention and control).

Any tourist who gets infected by SARI after visiting Middle East should be checked for MERS-CoV by the medics, as adviced by the current surveillance recommendations. Samples from the lower respiratory tracts of the patients should be analysed closely. If any traces of the disease will be found in the patients, they should be treated immediately.

Immunocompromised patients portraying unusual symptoms like diarrhoea, should be tested for the disease too.

WHO should be informed about any new cases of the disease, along with the details of possible exposure, which could have caused it. This would aid in preventing the disease from spreading further.

MERS is a communicable disease, no instances of this disease have been reported in the U.S. so far. But the Middle East seems to be affected the most by this illness. Above 800 people have been killed by this disease a decade ago.

A 61-year-old man was diagnosed with this fatal SARS-like disease on Oct. 11. His infection was confirmed by the reference laboratory of Public Health England. It was found that the man did not travel out of Qatar two weeks before he got infected and he was in contact with animals like camels, hens and sheep on his farm.

A group of scientists from across the world, including those from facilities in Spain, the Middle East , Germany, Chile and the Netherlands had carried out a research on farm animals like goats, sheep and camels. They suspect Arabian camels (camelus dromedarius) to be the carriers of the MERS virus, according to a report.

Another research conducted earlier this July pointed towards Muslim pilgrims to Mecca as the likely trigger of this grave disease globally.

"With millions of foreign pilgrims set to congregate in Mecca and Medina between Ramadan and the hajj, pilgrims could acquire and subsequently return to their home countries with MERS, either through direct exposure to the as-of-yet unidentified source or through contact with domestic pilgrims who may be infected," said Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician from Toronto, according to a report.

There has been no cure to this ailment so far, scientists are still trying to invent a cure to combat this disease. WHO has imposed no restrictions on traveling or trading regarding this matter. The CDC advices people to wash their hands, take precautions to prevent respiratory illnesses and avoid contact with sick people while traveling in the Middle East. - Science World Report.




MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Another Fish Kill Due To Red Tide In Indian River Lagoon, Florida - Health Experts Advise The Sensitive To Avoid Area Of New Infestation!

October 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A reddish algae had dead fish washing up ashore and left a nauseating odor wafting along Riverside Drive on Monday.

As biologists test the water, health officials say people with respiratory or other health conditions should avoid the algae-infested areas, or eating seafood caught there.


On Monday there was a strong, irritating odor from the Indian River Lagoon along Riverside Drive in Melbourne,
along with a fishkill north of the Melbourne Causeway. MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY


Diane Barile, a retired biologist who taught at Florida Tech and lives along Riverside Drive, just north of U.S. 192, wasn’t taking any chances.

“I’m closing all the windows,” Barile said. “I’m just not going outside.”

The lagoon took on a coppery reddish hue near Barile’s house Monday, where large dead mullet washed ashore in the brisk wind. “It’s like a red line,” Barile said of the discolored water.

Dolphin she saw early Monday seemed in a frenzy, she said, as if affected by the algae.

Recent lagoon water tests have not found Karenia brevis, the algae species most commonly referred to as red tide. That algae hasn’t popped up in Brevard since 2007.

But other algae that similarly discolor the water have been blooming. State wildlife officials for weeks have reported patchy algae blooms in the lagoon. Among them is a reddish algae called Pyrodinium bahamense, a brown algae named Aureoumbra lagunensis — also referred to as brown tide and a yellowish-brown algae called Pseudo-nitzschia.

State wildlife officials gathered water and fish samples Monday to try to identify the main culprit in the fish kills and the respiratory issues Barile reported to health officials.

Meanwhile, people concerned about health effects of any algae bloom should call the Florida Poison Information Center, state health officials said.

“You should not go close to it if you are sensitive,” said Brevard County Health Department Director Heidar Heshmati. “Most of them (algae blooms), they may have neurotoxin.” - Florida Today.



FIRE IN THE SKY: Signs In The Heavens - ORIONID Meteor Shower Peaking NOW; See Shards Of Halley's Comet Online!

October 20, 2013 - SPACE - The leaves are turning, there's a nip in the air and the Orionid meteor shower spawned by Halley's Comet is at its peak overnight tonight (Oct. 20).

If the bright moon or bad weather doesn't spoil the view, stargazers can catch a glimpse of the annual Orionid meteor shower as it reaches its peak late Sunday and early Monday (Oct. 21). The Orionids, so-named because they appear to spring from a region to the north of the constellation Orion's second brightest star, Betelgeuse, are a less impressive version of the Perseid meteor shower that occurs in August.


Astrophotographer Daniel McVey took this photo of an Orionid meteor in Summit County, CO, Oct. 21, 2012.
Credit: Daniel McVey

The online Slooh Space Camera will air a live 15-minute broadcast of the meteors from the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT/5 p.m. PDT) today.

You can watch the Orionid meteor shower webcast live here, courtesy of Slooh officials. [Photos: Orionid Meteor Shower of 2012]

Unfortunately for casual observers, the bright moon - which reached its full phase on Friday (Oct. 18) - may wash out most of the view. Weather permitting, viewers can expect to see at most one shooting star every three minutes. That's about a third as many as are visible in the Perseids or December's spectacular Geminids.

"Moonlit skies from a bright waning gibbous moon make this a less than favorable year for viewing," a NASA meteor shower guide for 2013 explains. "However, the Orionids are known for being bright meteors, so there still might be a good show in the early hours before dawn."


Learn why famous meteor showers like the Perseids and Leonids occur every year
[See the Full Infographic Here].  Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com contributor

During tonight's Slooh webcast, viewers can tweet their questions using the hashtag #Orionid. You can also watch the supernova webcast live on the online Slooh Space Camera website and the Slooh iPad App.

The shower will be most visible in the hours around 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT), when Orion is highest in the southern sky. The Orionids are dim, so astronomers recommend watching far from urban areas. The meteor shower is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.


WATCH: NASA's All Sky Fireball Network captured this Orionid fireball shining through the moonlight over Georgia on the morning of Oct. 20th:


video


The Orionids usually start to appear around Oct. 17 at a rate of about five per hour. The shower reaches a maximum Oct. 19 through Oct. 23, generally peaking the morning of Oct. 21. By Oct. 25, activity has subsided to five meteors per hour.

Orionid meteors are debris from Halley's Comet. The famous comet, named after English astronomer Edmond Halley, zooms by the sun every 76 years. Last visible from Earth in 1986, the icy visitor won't return until 2061.

Comets are basically balls of dusty ice, so as the sun melts the ice, the comet trails dust and debris behind, which the Earth passes through twice a year during the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in May and the Orionids in October. - SPACE.