Friday, December 20, 2013

FIRE IN THE SKY: Latest Incidents Of Fireballs Across The United States - Several Reports Of Fireballs And Explosions Over Arizona; Fireball Blazes Over San Diego; Fireball Spotted Over Alabama; Two Separate Fireballs Explode Seen Over Tennessee; Strange Explosions And Flashes Of Light Over Montgomery County, Maryland!

December 20, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Here are several reports of recent sightings of fireballs in the skies over the United States:

Yet Another Fireball Lights Up Arizona Skies.
Meteor sightings were reported across the Valley and the entire state of Arizona Tuesday evening. A bright, green light flew across the Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson sky. In southern Arizona, many residents reported seeing the sky light up and then hearing a loud boom and rumble. KTAR's Dr. Sky says the object appears to be a sporadic fire ball.

"We're seeing more and more of the fireballs in our skies but nobody really knows why," Sky said.

Sky explained his theory behind Tuesday's phenomenon. He's says a meteor shower was taking place called the Andromedids.

"It's very possible that this could be material from a distinct comet that's called Beilas comet."

He reported that skywatchers have been seeing bright fireballs and meteors over the past few days.  - KTAR.

Massive Overhead Explosion In Phoenix, Arizona Produces Sonic Boom And  Pungent Smell.
Yet another fireball over Arizona created a sonic boom, this time on December 10, 2013. I live in the Chandler area of Arizona and stepped outside that evening and both saw and smelled a strange smoke that lingered in the air afterwards for over an hour.

WATCH:  Fireball over Arizona.

Meteorite Explodes Above Arizona.

A meteorite has exploded into a huge fireball above Arizona just days before the year's best meteor shower.

The explosion involved a fireball and a loud bang, with some residents saying their homes were shaken by the meteorite. It was captured on film by a number of people, with footage of the fireball showing it moving across the sky.

Eyewitness Tony Kubrack told CNN: "I see this tremendous, white, bright light in the western sky. And it was just ... it was absolutely enormous, I couldn't believe it."

The meteorite comes ahead of the best and most reliable meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, which have been visible for around a week and are due to peak on 13/14 December.

However, the Arizona meteorite is not part of the Geminids, an expert told CNN, as it was moving too slowly.

Nasa meteor expert Bill Cooke told the news service that the exploding meteorite was travelling at around 45,000mph - slow in comparison to the Geminids, which travel at 78,000mph. Instead, it was one of the meteorites that pass over Earth every day, he said.

He added that the Arizona meteorite was large, weighing at around 100lbs and measuring 16 inches thick.

Scientists in Tucson are now hunting for parts of the meteorite after it broke up and fell to Earth.

WATCH:  Meteor over Phoenix.

Eric Christensen, a University of Arizona astronomer, told the Arizona Daily Star that they are keen to get hold of it for scientific purposes: "Anytime that we can get a fresh sample of a meteorite that hasn't been contaminated from sitting on the ground for days or weeks or years - or centuries or millennia, for that matter - it's a chance to examine a pristine sample of an asteroid.

"It is altered as it comes through the atmosphere, and as it sits on the ground, it begins the process of weathering."

Robert Ward, a volunteer field researcher from Arizona representing the Chicago Field Museum, said: "This was a very large fireball. I may chase something this big three or four times a year, but that's worldwide. To have something like this fall in my backyard is big.

"There was a lot of energy released, and that tells me there was a lot of mass to the object. It fell in the hornet's nest. It's the meteorite mecca of the world, Tucson. This is going to be big for Tucson." - IBT.

Fireball Blazes Over San Diego.
Officials received calls from residents of San Diego County reporting something falling from the sky early Tuesday.

San Diego County Sheriff's Department received several calls reporting something in the sky over State Route 52 at Mission Gorge in Santee.

Deputies checked the area where witnesses claimed to see something fall to the ground just before 5 a.m. They told NBC 7 there were no aircraft missing or overdue at the nearby Gillespie Field.

WATCH: Meteor over San Diego.

Heartland firefighters assisted in the search and said they are considering the reports unfounded, believing the object may have been a meteor. There are two meteor showers happening right now and visible from Southern California.

The Geminid Meteor Shower peaked about two days ago. In fact, it was a fabulous showing this year according to NBC News. The Earth passes through a trail of debris left behind by the asteroid Phaethon and draws stargazers all over the U.S.

"So it's quite possible that something could've fallen from the sky in the shape of a meteor. It's possible," said NBC 7 Meterologist Jodi Kodesh.

NASA reports the shower was expected to be active through Dec. 16. - NBC San Diego.

Fireball Spotted Over Alabama.
A fireball or meteor was spotted over parts of Alabama on Tuesday, including Birmingham, Gadsden, and Mores.

People across the state began reporting seeing a fireball around 9:25 p.m. EDT.

"Did anyone else just see that HUGE fireball in the western Birmingham sky?!" said Christoper Flores via Twitter.

WATCH: Fireball over Trussville.

"Just saw a huge meteor fall in northern sky," added Ron Dewberry. "Amazing fireball falling. Think the biggest and brightest I've ever seen. Seen from Clay County."

"I saw it at Vulcan," Mark McCollister added." Looked like a Roman candle."

Sightings also happened in Springville, Cullman, and Demopolis, among other areas. - TET.

Two Separate Fireballs Explode Over Tennessee.
Super Bolide over Tennessee – December 17th, 2013© NASA / Bill Cooke

The AMS has received over 40 reports so far about a fireball over central Tennessee last night around 8:20 central time. The event was captured by two cameras in the NASA All Sky Fireball Network operated by Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The burst from the event was brighter than the full moon.

Super Bolide over Tennessee – December 17th, 2013 © NASA / Bill Cooke

After analyzing the fireball's brightness, Cooke estimated the bolide to be approximately 12 inches wide and 400 pounds. He also plotted the orbit for the fireball and determined it originated from within the asteroid belt. Based on these two factors, Cooke believes meteorites could have survived to the ground.

Here is a video of the fireball captured by NASA's cameras.

WATCH:  Tennessee fireball.

Below are two maps of the fall location and estimated fireball trajectory. One is the trajectory plotted from the fireball reports submitted to the AMS from eye-witnesses. The other trajectory estimate was plotted by NASA using the all sky camera network. This is an excellent example illustrating how valuable and accurate eye witness reports can be. Both estimates are very close to each other.

Tennessee Fireball Trajectory – December 17th, 2013.

Below is an image of the 3D trajectory model computed using the AMS witness reports. This is a new software program we have recently developed that allows us to model the fireball trajectory in 3D and plot the RA/DEC coordinates for its radiant. The vertical red line towards the end of the fireball's track represents the point the fireball went out and entered dark flight. The RA/DEC coordinates computed for this event are: ra: 75.12070251 / declination: 19.38761852

3D Model of Fireball Trajectory Computed From AMS Witness Reports.

Not to be confused, AMS fireball event #3355 has been verified as a unique and different event that occurred around midnight and was witnessed from Tennessee and neighboring states. - AMS.

Strange Explosions And Flashes Of Light Over Montgomery County, Maryland.
Strange noises and flashes of light are what hundreds of people say they saw and heard Wednesday night in Montgomery County.

The Montgomery County dispatch says they got a few hundred calls from people reporting hearing several loud noises, and some people reported seeing flashes of lights.

Local gas companies did not report any ruptured lines.

"Could be fracturing from the mountains when they fall, but that doesn't explain the flashing light. We do have meteor showers right now. Could be meteors coming through and the sonic booms were from them entering the atmosphere," said resident Janet Johnson.

The cause of those noises and lights are still under investigation. - LEX18.

INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Partial Ceiling Collapse At The Historic Apollo Theatre In London - Dozens Suffer Serious Wounds; Police Say "No Criminal Act"?!

December 20, 2013 - ENGLAND - The ceiling collapse that injured dozens of people at a London theater involved "no criminal act," police said Friday in an initial assessment.

Emergency workers park outside the theater.

Police said the investigation into Thursday evening's collapse of the ceiling of London's historic Apollo Theatre, in the heart of the capital's buzzing theater district, will be continued by the Westminster City Council.

Investigators combing through the wreckage want to know what caused part of the century-old structure's ornate plaster ceiling to tumble onto the crowd who packed the nearly sold-out show.

Nine people were seriously hurt in the collapse, but there were no fatalities, the London Ambulance Service said Friday.

"It could have been a lot worse -- there were about 720 people in the auditorium at the time, and a large area of the ceiling came down," said London Fire Brigade's Kingsland Station Manager Nick Harding.

Three injured people were trapped under debris and had to be rescued by firefighters, he said. Some of the "walking wounded" were treated in neighboring theaters, he added.

London Ambulance Service said it helped 79 people, 56 of whom were taken to local hospitals. Some had head and back injuries, while others had breathing problems or cuts and scrapes.

Images from inside the Apollo, which opened in 1901, showed planks, plaster and other debris strewn across the dusty, red plush seats.

 A hydraulic lift is used to investigate the cause of the collapse. "We heard a creak, somebody screamed,
somebody from over there said, 'Look out!' and then the ceiling kind of creased in the middle and then
just collapsed," one theatergoer said.

The drama unfolded shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, about 40 minutes into the play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

"One of the actors said, 'Watch out!' " said one woman. "We thought it was part of the play."

It wasn't. Instead, it was part of the plaster ceiling collapsing and dropping down five stories onto the theatergoers below.

'Somebody screamed'

"We heard a creak, somebody screamed, somebody from over there said, 'Look out!' and then the ceiling kind of creased in the middle and then just collapsed," said Hannah, who with her husband had snagged one of the last pairs of tickets to the performance in the 775-seat theater.

Though she said she felt "slight panic," she credited those around her for keeping calm. "It wasn't every man for himself," she said, noting that several of her fellow theatergoers checked on those around them. "Everyone was looking out for each other, and in a couple of minutes, everyone was out."

Martin Bostock, who was with his wife and two children, said he thought the cave-in was part of the show until something very hard hit him on the head and chaos and panic erupted.

"You couldn't see across the room because of the dust, which we were all breathing in," he told CNN. "It was absolutely horrific and very terrifying. I was with my wife and two kids. Thank God, we got out."

Another theatergoer, Simon Usborne, said: "My view of the stage was immediately obscured by this dust and debris -- some other people have said it was like an avalanche, and that's probably a better description."

No alarm sounded, but it was clear that something serious had happened, he said.

"Everybody knew that something was wrong and the fear was then that more might come down, so everybody immediately dashed for an exit -- people were screaming -- I was fortunately close to an exit," he said.

Harding, who said the theater had been evacuated in a swift and orderly way, told reporters Friday it was too soon to speculate on the cause of the collapse.

Paramedics attend to an injured person at the scene of the collapse.

Some observers have speculated that heavy rain over London earlier Thursday evening might have played a part.

The Apollo is on Shaftesbury Avenue near Piccadilly Circus, in London's Soho district, which is usually packed with tourists, shoppers and diners at theater time. The area around it was cordoned off after the collapse as bloodied and dust-covered theatergoers stumbled onto the street.

The local London authority, Westminster City Council, said Friday morning that the Apollo Theatre's roof is now "secure," but what led it to give way was not known. Historic theaters are required to undergo rigorous roof safety checks every three years, the council said.

'A freak, unusual accident'

Many people with tickets for shows over the busy holiday period will want to know that they are not at risk of falling victim to a similar offstage drama.

There are nearly 50 major theaters in the West End of London, of which 26 are at least 90 years old.

The Society of London Theatre, which represents the theater industry in the capital, sought Friday to reassure those alarmed by the events.

"Our theatres entertain over 32,000 people in central London every night and all theatres take the safety of their audience, performers and staff very seriously," it said in a prepared statement.

"Every theatre undergoes rigorous safety checks and inspections by independent experts, and incidents like last night are extremely rare."

The society's president, Mark Rubinstein, told CNN on Friday there had been no warning of any problem with the Apollo's ceiling.

"It was a freak, unusual accident -- we have no idea what caused it," he said. "Obviously our sympathies are with anyone who was injured or affected by it."

Rubinstein said he did not anticipate the incident would affect London's "booming" theater business.

"I don't expect it's going to change anything," he said. "All of the other theaters are open tonight. We are expecting business as usual. It's the holiday season, it's a very busy time of year and we expect our theaters to be full."

London Mayor Boris Johnson had a similar message.

"Whilst this was a serious incident, London's world renowned theatreland is open for business, and thousands of theatregoers will rightly be out and about tonight and over the weekend," he said in a prepared statement.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," which was adapted for the stage from the 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon, is about a 15-year-old boy's investigation into the death of a neighborhood dog.

Haddon tweeted Thursday night of his relief that the situation was no worse. "It's been horrifying sitting here watching what has been happening at the apollo this evening. I'm hugely relieved that no-one has died," he said.

Performances of the play were canceled through Saturday, the Society of London Theatre said. It was not clear what would happen for future shows.

Nimax Theatres, which owns the Apollo, is "working closely with the relevant authorities to establish exactly what happened," the society said. - CNN.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increasing Seismic Activity At Indonesia's Sinabung Volcano - Red Alert Issued!

December 20, 2013 - INDONESIA - The Indonesian Volcanological Survey (VSI) informed in its latest press release that a significant increase in seismic activity was detected during the past days.

While the volcano has been relatively calm at the surface, producing only a dilute gas plume with some ash reaching about 1 km above the crater, the increase in earthquakes suggests that new magma is currently rising and could produce new (potentially large) explosions. In particular, low-frequency and so-called hybrid earthquakes, typical of fluid movements inside the volcanic edifice, have climbed to almost one 1000 per day.

Continuous volcanic tremor (internal vibration) at medium levels has also been detected over the past days. Deformation measurements with tilt-meters on the northern and eastern flank and EDM (electronic distance meters) show a fluctuating trend of inflation, suggesting the presence of an intruding magma body at shallow depth.

Gas and temperature measurements are not conclusive from the VSI report, as quality / temporal coverage are insufficient. The exclusion zone was extended to 5 km radius, and the volcano remains on highest alert level and Aviation Color Code Red, because explosive eruptions with high-level ash clouds could occur any time.  - Volcano Discovery.