Spectacular Christmas Comet Amazes Skywatchers in Chile - A stunning comet that survived a recent brush with the sun is amazing astronomers again, this time in dazzling new photos captured just before sunrise over Chile. The comet Lovejoy may not be the famed Star of Bethlehem, but it still provided a jaw-dropping sight when photographed rising ahead of the sun on Dec. 22 at Paranal Observatory in Chile's high Atacama Desert. Time-lapse photos of comet Lovejoy show it rising ahead of the sun as the Paranal astronomers fire a laser beam, which serves as a guide star, into the sky. The Milky Way galaxy and the moon are also visible in the images. "The tail of the comet was easily visible with the naked eye, and the combination of the crescent moon, comet, Milky Way and the laser guide star was nearly as impressive to the naked eye as it appears in the long-exposure photos."
shall emerge into the light.**
LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.
5.2 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G
5.9 SOUTH OF AFRICA
5.6 SOUTH OF KERMADEC ISLANDS
5.5 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES
5.1 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.9 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.4 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.8 OFF E. COAST OF S. ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
NEW ZEALAND - Aftershocks continue to rock Christchurch. Christmas is off to a shaky start for Christchurch residents, with no sign of aftershocks easing up. Ten quakes measuring between 2.9 and 3.7 which rocked the New Zealand city this morning were among almost 60 aftershocks since it was jolted by two quakes measuring 5.8 and 6.0 on Friday. The quakes cut power to about 26,000 homes and caused issues with water supply and wastewater.
It has been a "hellish" year for the city and its residents. The bill forecast for the prior quake damage is expected to be between $NZ20 billion ($15.3 billion) and $NZ30 billion ($23 billion). The new quakes will result in a reassessment of whether some areas should revert to the red zone, where damage is such that building repair is judged uneconomical. Reassessment has been welcomed by many Parklands residents, who spent much of yesterday cleaning up silt brought to the surface by liquefaction.
Quake renders parts of Christchurch liquid - A number of Christchurch residents want their neighbourhood to be condemned, as liquefaction following yesterday's earthquake forced another clean-up. Aftershocks continued to rock Christchurch today after quakes measuring 5.8 and 6.0 shook the nerves of many residents on Friday. The quakes cut power to about 26,000 homes and caused issues with water supply and wastewater, though most of those services were back to normal by late Saturday.
But cleaning up huge amounts of silt caused by liquefaction was the biggest problem for many residents in the suburb of Parklands, who have already faced this issue twice before. Soil liquefaction describes a phenomenon whereby a saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to applied stress, usually earthquake shaking or other sudden change in stress condition, causing it to behave like a liquid.
“We've had enough. We can't keep doing this. This will happen again and again." The area was zoned orange at one point but later switched back to green, or inhabitable. But with further liquefaction, they called for it to be hoarsened red, or uninhabitable. A reassessment may be necessary. “It's possible that some of those boundaries might change and go into red, but wall need to take a closer look at that when we can properly assess it, which will probably be early in the new year." (photo)
TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 03s (Grant) was located approximately 150 nm northeast of Darwin, Australia.
AUSTRALIA - Tropical Cyclone Grant is bringing winds up to 110 km/h to the Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory and residents are being warned of dangerous storm tides when it crosses the coast. The weather bureau says the cyclone, which formed early on Christmas morning, is expected to cross the Cobourg peninsula on Christmas night and move into the Van Diemen Gulf on Boxing Day. Darwin is expected to escape its full force, but could still be hit by damaging winds.
Coastal residents on the north side of the Cobourg peninsula are warned to expect a dangerous storm tide as the cyclone centre crosses the coast, as well as damaging waves and dangerous flooding. Cyclone Grant tracked easterly in the early hours of Sunday. Remote McCluer Island in the Arafura Sea received gale force winds gusting up to 76km/h, he said. "It has been pretty wet and wild in that part of the world. It is reasonably good news for Darwin because it is tracking eastwards and the likelihood of gales (in Darwin) is diminished." Forecasters were considering the possibility that Cyclone Grant might continue to drift eastwards without crossing back over water. Under that scenario the cyclone could weaken considerably. However, the Bureau of Meteorology said it was possible it could intensify, in which case destructive winds with gusts to 130km/h might develop on Sunday night.
Authorities have warned people in the Northern Territory's Top End not to travel around after 6pm (CST) on Christmas Day, and to have cyclone kits ready in case of emergency but not to move to public emergency shelters until they are advised to do so. However, residents west of Goulburn Island as far as Snake Bay on Melville Island have been urged to take shelter immediately.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
AUSTRALIA - Mini-tornadoes are accompanying severe thunderstorms and hail that have hit many parts of Melbourne today. HAILSTONES THE SIZE OF LEMONS have caused widespread damage across the city. a tornado has been reported near Fiskville, west of Melbourne, associated with the thunderstorms.
The worst of the city storms had passed by 8.15pm (AEDT), when a severe weather warning was cancelled. However, much of regional Victoria remained at risk, with severe thunderstorm warnings for a number of areas. And storm warnings have also been issued for southern New South Wales and the ACT. On Twitter, residents reported their suburbs had been pelted with hailstones, including one man who said a hailstone smashed through his car window on the Hume Highway. 90 per cent of the emergency calls concerned smashed windows and skylights, while the damage to cars from hailstones will be widespread and severe. "And anyone who doesn't need to be driving should stay off the road." Parts of Melbourne also faced the threat of flash-flooding.