Kilauea Daily Update issued Aug 16, 2015 09:03 Volcano Alert Level WATCH – Aviation Color Code ORANGE

Activity Summary: Inflationary tilt continues at the summit of Kīlauea. The East Rift Zone lava flow is active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and all breakouts remain within 8 km (5 mi) of the vent. The flow does not currently pose a threat to communities. Low levels of seismic activity continue across the volcano.

Summit Observations: Tiltmeters at Kīlauea’s summit continue to record inflationary tilt that started early on August 14. The summit lava lake remains active, and the lake level has continued to rise, with a current level of …

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Ecuador Declares State of Emergency Over Volcano

 

People wear surgical masks to protect themselves from volcanic ash in Machachi, Ecuador, Aug. 14, after the Cotopaxi volcano stirred in the early hours of Friday. GUILLERMO GRANJA / Reuters

The move allows the president to immediately mobilize security forces throughout the country and lets the government block publication of information related to Cotopaxi.

The state of emergency may not exceed 60 days.

Correa said that about 400 people have been voluntarily relocated to shelters after the explosions and expulsion of ash surprised nearby residents on Friday.

The Environment Ministry closed the Cotopaxi National Park as a precaution. Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and is popular with tourists.

The last eruption took place in 1940, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.

Possible Tie to Mystery of Flight 370 Puts Tiny Réunion in World’s Spotlight

By MARC SANTORA
August 2, 2015

ST.-DENIS, Réunion — Ever since Johnny Begue and his friend stumbled on a barnacle-encrusted airplane wing flap last week – one that appears to be from the same kind of plane as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared without a trace more than a year ago – just about every piece of flotsam kicked up along the shores of this island in the Indian Ocean has attracted scrutiny.

A plastic water bottle with Chinese writing on it? Call the police and send it off for examination.

A scrap of metal that looks like it could be from a plane? Alert the authorities. It might be one more clue.

“It is madness, really insane,” said Florent Spiesser, 32, who moved to Réunion from mainland France a decade ago after taking a vacation here and falling in love with the place. “No one has ever heard of this place, and now the whole world knows Réunion.”

Roughly 4,000 miles from Europe and lying off the southeastern coast of Africa, between the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius, Réunion is an overseas department of France.

With its lush jungles, towering mountains, dazzling waterfalls and sweeping expanses of sugar cane fields, more than 40 percent of the island has been declared a World Heritage site by Unesco.

The cities and towns that ring the island are named after Christian saints. On the island’s west coast, soft white-sand beaches offer a playground for tourists, most of them European. The east coast, where the airplane wing was found Wednesday, is littered with stones and pebbles, trapping trash that has washed ashore over the years.

“If anyone had heard of Réunion before, perhaps they heard about shark attacks or people falling down mountains or the vicious mosquitoes that came to the island in 2006,” said Mr. Spiesser, who works for the island’s tourism department.

“But now, the world can see what an amazing place this is,” he said. “It really is Jurassic Park.”

Rising nearly 10,000 feet into the clouds, Piton des Neiges on Réunion is the highest mountain in the Indian Ocean.

While the island is a botanist’s dream, with a stunning variety of plant life, there are curiously few animals. “There are no snakes, no scorpions, no monkeys, no spiders,” Mr. Spiesser said.

But there is one of the most active volcanoes in the world: Piton de la Fournaise, on the island’s southern side.

Just as scores of reporters descended on the island, the volcano was putting on a show, kicking up earth and lava and adding to the otherworldly landscape on the southern end of the island.

The eruption posed no danger to the island’s 850,000 residents and did not interfere with the plane investigation, but officials here were quick to capitalize on the global attention and arranged helicopter rides over the volcano and along the coast.

Rudy Clain, 50, a pilot for Corail Helicopters who participated in the search, took several reporters on an aerial tour.

“Look at that shoreline,” he said as he zipped along the coast. Although Réunion is only a speck in the sea, the currents routinely bring debris from thousands of miles away, he said. “There is a lot of area to search.”

On Sunday, metallic debris was found on the shore near the capital, St.-Denis, and was taken by the Réunion air transport police, according to law enforcement officials. The Associated Press later quoted Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s director general of civil aviation, as saying that the fragment was from a “domestic ladder” and not a fragment from a plane.

For the past year, search efforts for Flight 370 have been mainly focused on an area 3,000 miles away, off the west coast of Australia.

However, the authorities have said that it is entirely possible that any debris caught up in the swirling currents of the Indian Ocean could migrate to this island or to Madagascar and southern Africa.

Malaysia’s Transportation Ministry released a statement on Sunday saying that the airplane part found here was a part of the wing known as the flaperon and was part of a Boeing 777 aircraft, the same model as Flight 370.

Martin Dolan, the head of the Australian agency coordinating the underwater search for the plane, told reporters that “the only 777 aircraft that we’re aware of in the Indian Ocean that could have led to this part floating is MH370.”

Mr. Dolan, reached by telephone on Sunday night, urged caution regarding reports of additional debris being found on Réunion.

“I would treat these reports with some skepticism at this point,” Mr. Dolan said.

On Saturday night, the wing flap was flown to Toulouse, France, and investigators from Malaysia, France, China and the United States, as well as Boeing, are expected to begin the process of formal verification on Wednesday.

If it is confirmed to be from Flight 370, at least one part of the mystery will be solved, erasing any lingering doubt that the airplane did indeed crash, as investigators believe, and offering some closure for the relatives of the 239 people on board.

But there will remain a host of other questions.

Specifically, why did Flight 370 go sharply off its route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on the night of March 8, 2014, and what could have led to its catastrophic end?

Pope Francis called the head of the Roman Catholic Church on Réunion when it became clear that the wing part was likely from Flight 370. And on Saturday night a prayer vigil was held in St.-André, near where the wing part washed ashore.

Sophie Ingra, 18, was one of hundreds who attended the service.

“What is important for us is to share both in the bad and in the hope for the future,” she said.

Mr. Begue, who found the wing flap and has been overwhelmed by the media frenzy, told reporters that he was on the beach looking for a stone to grind chilies when he saw the debris and called a local radio station to report his discovery.

“I did not know what it was at first,” he said. But the discovery’s significance soon became clear, making Mr. Begue an overnight celebrity, interviewed by news organizations from Perth, Australia, to Beijing.

He said that his sympathies were with the passengers’ families and that he would be happy if his discovery helped them in their grief. “I am proud that this big event happened on Réunion and of any role I could play in solving this mystery,” Mr. Begue said.

Correction: August 2, 2015

A previous version of this article misstated the distance from Réunion to Europe. It is roughly 4,000 miles, not 1,000.

Reporting was contributed by Michelle Innis in Sydney, Australia, Nicola Clark in Paris and Christopher Buckley in Hong Kong.

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See the Best Photos of Friday’s Blue Moon, From NYC to Seattle

A blue moon rises behind Brooklyn seen from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., July 31, 2015.

Julio Cortez/AP Photo

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There’s a reason why “once in a blue moon” is a saying and Friday night proved it.

A blue moon is defined as any time there is a second full moon during a calendar month, according to NASA. While most years have 12 full moons, this year has 13.

Here are some of the best Blue Moon photos from Friday night, from Washington D.C. to Seattle:

Friday’s full moon was a #BlueMoon to remember – have a great weekend everyone! pic.twitter.com/wkMkvp11L7

— Tim Durkan (@timdurkan) August 1, 2015

Tonight’s #BlueMoon at Central Park Reservoir @spann @JaniceHuff4ny @CentralParkNYC @EverythingNYC @agreatbigcit pic.twitter.com/zF2XDDheVr

— CentralParkMoments (@My_Cen_ParkNYC) August 1, 2015

Having a blast photographing the #bluemoon tonight in #WashingtonDC @PoPville @capitalweather pic.twitter.com/FM3sUqV3dz

— Kevin Barta (@Kevin_Barta) August 1, 2015

Don’t let the name fool you, though. Blue moons are very rarely blue. Most are pale gray and white, resembling a moon on any other night.

A truly blue colored moon can occur on rare occasions, according to NASA, with most being spotted after volcanic eruptions.

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The Story Behind Tonight’s ‘Blue Moon’

Despite the popular expression, a blue moon isn’t as astoundingly rare as one might expect. It also isn’t blue.

Friday night’s moon is being called a blue moon because it is the second full moon occurring in one month — the first was on July 2. The occurrence happens about every 30 months, according to an astronomer.

The modern definition of a blue moon just means an extra full moon, whether one month has two full moons or one quarter of a year, or season, has four instead of three.

But before the 1940s, the Maine Farmer’s Almanac offered a much more complicated explanation of a blue moon that relied on in-depth knowledge of ecclesiastical dates, tropical years and the timing of the seasons, according to NASA, which reported that even astronomers had difficulty interpreting the definition.

Related: It’s a Blue Moon Rising: Some Facts to Impress Your Friends

One such amateur astrologer and author, James Hugh Pruett, published an article in Sky & Telescope called “Once in a Blue Moon,” in 1946. Citing the 1937 Maine almanac, he wrote that according to his interpretation of the complex definition, a blue moon was the second full moon in one month, according to NASA.

Pruett’s interpretation was wrong, but it was simple. And so it stuck.

A full moon, known as the Blue Moon, is seen over the Staten Island Ferry while it makes its way to New York July 31, 2015. EDUARDO MUNOZ / Reuters

A truly blue-colored moon, which isn’t actually called a blue moon, actually is a rarity and is usually the product of a volcano or wildfire sending particles into the air. The particles only allow blue light to filter through, according to NASA.

RELATED:

Blue Moon Beer Celebrates 20th Birthday on Actual Blue Moon (KUSA)

A blue moon, like the one happening Friday night, comes along once every 2 ½ years, said Bob Berman, an astronomer and the author of “Zoom, How Everything Moves.”

He pointed out that the current definition of a blue moon has no “traditional folklore, Native American, nor science or astronomy support.”

“Professional astronomers, and most backyard amateurs, pretty much ignore it,” Berman told NBC News. “But it’s harmless, isn’t it?”

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Blue Moon: What Makes It So Special

There is a blue moon on Friday.

Getty Images

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There’s a reason why “once in a blue moon” is a saying and tonight will prove it.

A blue moon is defined as any time there is a second full moon during a calendar month, according to NASA. While most years have 12 full moons, this year has 13.

Don’t let the name fool you, though. Blue moons are very rarely blue. Most are pale gray and white, resembling a moon on any other night.

A truly blue colored moon can occur on rare occasions, according to NASA, with most being spotted after volcanic eruptions. It’s also possible Friday’s moon could be red.

“Often, when the Moon is hanging low, it looks red for the same reason that sunsets are red, NASA explains. “The atmosphere is full of aerosols much smaller than the ones injected by volcanoes. These aerosols scatter blue light, while leaving the red behind.”

Step outside at sunset to check out the blue moon, then if you’re so inclined, go ahead and celebrate by doing something you only do “once in a blue moon.” You do have an excuse, after all.

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The remote French island that relaunched the search for MH370


Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29. (Yannick Piton/AFP/Getty Images)

The moribund search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014, flickered back to life with the discovery of a piece of debris some believe belonged to the Boeing 777 jet, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew. The object, said to be part of a wing, was found on the eastern shore of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

That debris puts the remote isle, nearly 600 miles east of Madagascar, at the unlikely center of one of the world’s most drawn-out and tragic sagas. The search for MH370 has involved the air forces of a number of Southeast Asian states, Australian naval patrols and a host of other international actors spanning a significant stretch of the planet. More than half of those on board the flight were Chinese nationals.

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Reunion’s role in all this is still very small. Because the island is technically part of France — it is classified as an overseas department — investigators are sending the debris for further study thousands of miles away to the southern French city of Toulouse, the site of the nearest office for France’s air accident investigations agency.

Amid the global media hubbub, local journalists on the Indian Ocean island have enjoyed the unfamiliar spotlight. Here’s one TV broadcaster’s quip in English:

Reunion sends seven deputies to France’s National Assembly; its inhabitants, who number fewer than 1 million, are full citizens of France.

Despite its distance from France, the island has been at the heart of a lot of world history. It was first claimed by Portuguese seafarers in the early 16th century, but later fell into the hands of the French, who in the mid-18th century named it “Ile Bourbon” after the monarchical house then ruling in Paris.

But that name didn’t last long. The French Revolution ousted the Bourbons from their palaces, and jettisoned the royal name from this Indian Ocean isle. The new name selected by revolutionaries — “Reunion” — was swapped for “Bonaparte” during the Napoleonic wars and then restored briefly to Bourbon following a short-lived British occupation — until it returned, this time for good, in 1848.

In its centuries of colonial rule, Reunion was a way-station for traders in the southern Indian Ocean, saw numerous shipwrecks and was where one of France’s notorious pirates was hanged in the 18th century.

The abolition of slavery saw an influx of tens of thousands of indentured laborers from what’s now India to France’s colonial possessions in the Indian Ocean, giving the island, like nearby Mauritius, a rich, diverse religious and ethnic make-up.

Political concerns in Reunion are not too different from those of the French mainland — its voters participate in European elections and some even support some of the continent’s most xenophobic politicians.

Recently, Reunion’s been in international headlines because of shark attacks and an even more grave threat: the likelihood of an imminent volcanic eruption.

As the international media descended on the island, Reunion’s geological observatory reported a huge spike in seismic activity in the island’s active volcano, known as Le Piton de la Fournaise (the “peak of the furnace”). It’s already blown its lid a number of times this year. Authorities evacuated tourists and locals from its surrounding areas Thursday. Our local correspondent urged foreign journalists to pay attention.

If the debris found in #ReunionIsland are not from #MH370, i hope International Medias will talk about our volcano. Eruption soon !

— Antoine Forestier (@a_forestier) July 30, 2015

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Aurora found beyond our Solar System

Aurora found around brown dwarf beyond our Solar System

By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News


The brown dwarf’s aurora is red and up to a million times brighter than the Earth’s northern lights

An aurora has been spotted outside our Solar System for the first time, scientists report.

An international team detected the light display around a brown dwarf about 18 light years away in the Lyra constellation.

They say the luminous glow looks like the northern lights, but is up to a million times brighter and more red than green in colour.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature.

Dr Stuart Littlefair, an astronomer from the University of Sheffield, said: “This is the first time that we have confirmed we are seeing auroras on brown dwarves.”

Charged interaction

Shimmering auroras are some of the Earth’s most dazzling displays. This luminous glow can also appear around all the planets in our Solar System.

They are caused when charged particles from the Sun interact with the atmosphere.

But the illuminated brown dwarf, an object which is too small to have become a star but too massive to be a planet, lies further out in the galaxy.

Called LSR J1835, it was observed using the Very Large Array radio telescope and the Hale and Keck optical telescopes.

The scientists watched the object as it rapidly rotated, and observed how the light varied.

“The brightness changes are consistent with what you would expect from auroras,” said Dr Littlefair.


On Earth, the green hue is caused when the Sun’s charged particles interact with oxygen in the atmosphere

The dwarf’s aurora is mainly red in colour because the charged particles are mainly interacting with hydrogen in its atmosphere. On Earth, the greenish glow is caused as the electrons from the Sun hit oxygen atoms.

However, scientists are puzzled about how the light show is being generated.

The brown dwarf is a sort of failed star itself, and has no other star like the Sun nearby to blast it with charged particles.

“It is possible material is being stripped off the surface of the brown dwarf to produce its own electrons,” said Dr Littlefair.

Another option is an as-yet-undetected planet or moon around the dwarf is throwing off material to light it up.

Some of Jupiter’s auroras are produced in this way, as charged particles are emitted from volcanoes on its moon Io.


Some auroras on Jupiter are produced by material emitted from its moon Io

The discovery is also helping scientists to better understand brown dwarves.

There is some debate over whether they are more star-like in their nature, or whether they have planetary attributes.

“If you are working in brown dwarves, it matters whether you think of them as small stars or big planets,” said Dr Littlefair.

“We already known from observations of brown dwarves that they have clouds in the atmosphere. Now we know they also show auroras, it is yet more reason to consider brown dwarves as scaled-up versions of planets rather than scaled-down version of stars.”

Follow Rebecca on Twitter.

Cleveland Daily Update issued Jul 21, 2015 14:13 Volcano Alert Level WATCH – Aviation Color Code ORANGE

AVO detected an explosion at Cleveland volcano at 08:17 AKDT (16:17 UTC) today. In response, AVO raised the Alert level and Color Code to WATCH/ORANGE this morning. Satellite views below about 30,000 feet above sea level have been obscured by clouds. No ash cloud has been observed by satellite, web camera or other observers at this time. Observers from a boat on the northeast side of the volcano reported seeing a dusting of ash on the snow near the summit of the volcano as well as moderate steaming from the summit area. AVO will continue to monitor the volcano closely.