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State of the Earth Report
For Wednesday, 30 November, 2022
This was the 334th day of the year with 31 days remaining.
The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The First Quarter Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces.
The Moon reached its First Quarter phase earlier today, meaning that it will appear 50% illuminated and may be visible in the late afternoon sky for some of you. The Moon will be moving progressively further from Saturn and closer to Jupiter over the next few nights. The ringed planet will be setting around 10:00 PM local time and Jupiter will be prominent in the night sky until about 1:00 AM local time. Mars will be visible from sunset to sunrise. Look for Mars in between “the Horns of The Bull” in the constellation Taurus.
Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 25. That’s down 27 from yesterday, and it is the lowest sunspot count we’ve seen since we began doing our reports. But in spite of the low number of sunspots and lack of solar flares, the Earth is being bombarded by a high speed blast of charged particles streaming from an enormous coronal hole on the Earth-facing side of the Sun. The result has been Unsettled conditions for the geomagnetic field for the past several days, and these effects are expected to intensify by the end of the week. The Planetary K index has been ranging around 4 all day, so observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for possible Auroral activity.
Only two new fireball events were logged by the American Meteor Society as of this afternoon. One was seen over Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming around 0045 UT November 30 (or 5:45 PM on the 29th MST.) The other was seen over Texas at 0318 UT November 30 (or 9:22 PM CST on the 29th.)
Ever since Mauna Loa’s eruption began last Sunday night we’ve been learning a lot of new terms: Such as the word “vog”, which refers to the volcanic smog that results from the mix of ash and sulfur dioxide (along with other particulates and gases from the eruption), and the term “Pele’s Hair” which refers to fine strands of volcanic glass sent spiraling through the air. (Incidentally, Pele’s Hair is named after the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes and not the Brazilian God of Football.) We’ve also learned that Mauna Loa means “Long Mountain” and that it is the largest active volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa rises some 13,680 feet (about 4,170 meters) above the Pacific Ocean.
Mauna Loa’s remote location and altitude above the “inversion layer” of Earth’s atmosphere have made it a valuable site for multiple scientific observatories, including being one of the four sites of the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System. ATLAS is a network of automated telescopes that are exceptionally well-suited for detecting the smaller Near Earth Objects that might impact our planet. ATLAS is credited with discovering 855 asteroids since 2017, and 82 of them were identified as potentially hazardous. The system has also discovered 76 new comets and a whopping 13,381 Supernovae. But now lava has flowed over the access road and taken down the power lines, so the Mauna Loa observatory will be shut down indefinitely.
Earthquake activity has been settling down in Hawaii today, but it seems to be perking up in other parts of the planet. Iran and Japan have experienced quakes of 5.7 and 5.0 magnitudes respectively.
Greece and Spain have each registered 4.4 quakes. But perhaps the most unexpected location for a strong earthquake today was near the small town of Peace River in Alberta, Canada where a 5.3 quake struck. The 5.3 was sandwiched in between a series with 5 other quakes that ranged from magnitude 4.0 to 4.9 over the past 24 hour period.
Several southern states in the US were terrorized by severe storms on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. These storms were more typical of spring and summer events rather than late November, with frequent lightning strikes and multiple tornadoes reported. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were especially hard hit with extensive damage throughout the region, and at least two deaths from a tornado have been confirmed in Alabama.
For Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
This was the 333rd day of the year with 32 days remaining.
The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius, moving into Pisces.
The Waxing Crescent Moon will appear almost 50% illuminated this evening and it will set about an hour before midnight local time. That bright “star” seen to the west or “right” of the Moon tonight is actually the planet Saturn. The famous Rings of Saturn are currently tilted with respect to the planet’s body, so this is an especially good time to observe Saturn and its rings through a telescope. The bright Moon will make for less than ideal viewing of Saturn for the next several nights, but tonight’s Moon will help you identify and locate the planet which will still be in about the same place at the same time each evening after the Moon has moved away by later next week.
The Boulder Sunspot Number is 52, down 4 from yesterday. Still no significant solar flares today, but the Geomagnetic field is being disturbed by a high speed solar wind, and the stream of charged particles is expected to intensify over the next few days. The Planetary K index has been hovering around 4 all day so observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for Auroral activity.
A handful of fireball meteors over the US last night were reported by relatively small numbers of people. Europe seems to have seen the most fireball activity overnight with about 20 reports for two events, one seen over England at 1935 UT, and a second over France, Germany, and Belgium at 2120 UT.
The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii is still bubbling away, spewing ash and gases into the air, and lava has flowed over some of the nearby roads. For now, however, the situation is not considered a threat to residents, except for those especially sensitive to the air quality conditions. We’ll post a screenshot taken today that shows the USGS map of earthquakes that have accompanied the volcanic activity on “the Big Island” of Hawaii over the past day.
And finally, just about the time UFO Joe has finished reading tonight’s State of the Earth Report, the Chinese Space Station, “Tiangong”, will begin passing over Arizona. It will be almost directly over Snowflake at about 8:45 PM Eastern Time, or 6:45 PM Arizona Time. Do you suppose they will be listening to Yourufoshow?
For Monday, 28 November, 2022
This was the 332nd day of the year with 33 days remaining.
The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.
The crescent Moon is growing bigger and rising later so it will be prominent in the evening sky and hovering close to the planet Saturn after sunset until about 10:00 PM local time. And speaking of sunset, we noticed something interesting about the sunset times for this week: Although the Sun has been rising a little later and setting a little earlier almost every day since the Autumnal Equinox, the Sun will be setting at virtually the same time every evening this week from Monday through Friday — specifically at 4:54 PM EST for our latitude and longitude. Old Sol is still rising a little later each morning, and it will resume setting a little earlier on Saturday, but it appears that the Northern Hemisphere’s daily loss of sunlight is beginning to slow down as we get closer to our Winter Solstice.
About 8 new fireball events have been logged by the American Meteor Society since our last broadcast. Most of these were reported by a relatively small number of observers, although one over Europe at 1751 UT on the 25th was reported by about 17 people spread across Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland. But the most widely reported event by far was from about 150 witnesses for a fireball seen across Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, and into parts of Ontario and Quebec at 0333 UT on the 27th, which was 10:33 PM on Saturday night the 26th EST.
The Boulder Sunspot Number is 56, down 5 from Friday. No significant solar flares have occurred for several days, but a stream of charged coronal particles made its way to Earth over the weekend and triggered Unsettled conditions in Earth’s geomagnetic field. The Planetary K index had been fluctuating between 2 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday, then spiked above 5 for a few hours this morning, putting us in minor geomagnetic storm territory. The K Index has subsided since, but was on the rise again as of this writing. Observers in northern latitudes should be alert for Auroral activity.
At 0224 UT November 28th, Near Earth Object 2022 WM7 buzzed past the Earth at a mere .2 Lunar Distance – just 2 tenths of the average distance between Moon and Earth. That’s equivalent to about 48,800 miles or 78,550 km, so it was a very near miss. This 10 foot diameter object had just been detected a few days ago, reminiscent of the asteroid that actually hit the Earth near Niagara Falls last week, just hours after it was discovered.
For the first time in nearly 40 years the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii has erupted. The eruption began around 11:30 PM Sunday night Hawaiian Standard Time, or 0930 UT on Monday the 28th. Activity seems to have subsided at this time and officials are downplaying any potential threats to inhabited areas from flowing lava, but the plume of ash has disrupted air travel and the entire region will certainly be covered in a layer of volcanic ash as much as a quarter inch thick. As another side effect of the eruption, one of the telescopes in the global network of astronomical instruments searching for Near Earth Objects is in the affected zone and its operation has been shut down for the time being.
The automated telescope on Mauna Lua is one of four in the “Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System,” aka “ATLAS” that surveys the sky every night searching for potentially hazardous Near Earth
Objects, as well as other asteroids, comets, supernovae, and previously unknown celestial objects. The clear dark skies at the site are considered ideal for astronomical observatory, but as this screenshot from a camera near the gateway to the Mauna Loa Observatory shows, the ash in the sky will render conditions much less than ideal for some time to come:
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