Will Halloween 2015, Truly Be The Scariest Until 2027?

A photo illustration featuring an arc of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) entering the Earth's orbital path. — Photo illustration: D a v i d J o h a n s on

A photo illustration featuring an arc of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) entering the Earth’s orbital path. Note the dominant 108 million year old crater on the Moon’s southern hemisphere, believed caused by an asteroid fragment from 298 Baptistina. The TychoCrater is named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546 —1601) – Photo illustration: D a v i d  A   J o h a n s o n

Multimedia eLearning program produced by:  D a v i d  A  J o h a n s o n  © 

The author is a multimedia photographer, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative graphic presentation of this program, please visit: http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com

Last night I was inspired to take photos of a dramatic moonrise appearing above the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. It was an exceptionally clear evening, which enabled the luminous clarity of the moon to reveal its turbulent history recorded in a textured topography of asteroid craters.

In fact, the Earth shares some frightening historic parallels with all of its neighboring planets within our solar system. Indeed, of all the world’s collateral past and future events, it is the asteroid or comet nemeses which present a potential close encounter of the worst kind!

Ignorance Is Bliss

Since the beginning of time, on a nearly daily basis, these threatening extraterrestrial objects known as asteroids have come perilously close (relative in celestial distance) to our planet Earth. NASA scientists developed a method of categorizing Near Earth Objects (NEO) for tracking the orbital path of asteroids and comets. The space agency’s Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program, often referred to as “Spaceguard” tracks and catalogs celestial objects coming to within 30 million miles (96,560,400 kilometers) of Earth. Ground and space-based telescope resources are used for increased surveillance and tracking of these unwelcome space nomads.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) is what NASA currently uses for its parameters to gauge an asteroid’s potential impact threat to the Earth. If an asteroid is projected to travel within the moon and Earth’s orbit, it’s considered a potentially Earth-impact threat and depending on its specific trajectory, it is then placed into groups (Athen, Apollo Amor) for enhanced analysis. If a PHA were detected, it should not be assumed that an eminent Earth-collision is about to happen, however, underestimating or ignoring this catastrophic potential could lead to an early and permanent retirement of most life on Earth.

NASA illustraion

NASA illustration

Blinded By The Light of Day

On February 15, 2013 the asteroid 367943 Duende was long-predicted to approach and pass dangerously close to Earth. On that morning, just after sunrise near Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia a 20 meter sized meteor exploded as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere from a shallow angle. A radiant superbolide meteor blast occurred at an elevation of just under 30 km (18 miles) creating an intense light brighter than the Sun.

The estimated energy released was equivalent to approximately 500 kilotons of TNT, upwards of 30 times the explosive energy of the atomic bomb detonated above Hiroshima. Regional hospitals treated approximately 1,500 people for injuries and at least 7,000 buildings were damaged in half a dozen cities as an indirect result of the meteor’s shock wave.

A valuable lesson learned from the Chelyabinsk event was exemplified in the heroic actions of a grade school teacher who instinctively had her students duck and cover as the flash of piercing light first appeared. The children were unharmed, however the instructor was severely injured by flying glass caused by the meteors powerful shock wave. Accordingly, most of the fifteen individuals injured in the event were cut by flying glass from blown out windows.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid literally snuck under the radar as not all 15 meters wide, near-Earth objects are tracked and catalog. The trajectory of the asteroid aligned so close to the Sun that it was not visible to the instruments responsible for locating such objects.

Within 16 hours after this unexpected event, the forecasted asteroid 367943 Duende perilously flew past Earth by 27,700 km without incident. In the days that followed, there were increased sightings of bright meteors streaking through the night sky. International space agencies and sources concluded that due to the two celestial objects divergent trajectories, they could not possibly be related. Consequently, this event illustrates how unprepared the World community currently is for developing essential contingencies to mitigate the range of potential dangers that asteroids present.

NASA Illustration

NASA Illustration

A Sobering Series Of Events

By coincidence, the Chelyabinsk event is cited as the second largest asteroid to impact the Earth’s atmosphere in recorded history. The larger, 1908 Tunguska event was caused from a 50 meter wide asteroid strike, which detonated at a 28,000 foot elevation. In an instant this event leveled approximately 800 square miles of Siberian forest that contained 80 million trees. The subsequent fireball is estimated to have released the energy equivalent of 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

The mother of all meteors to have collided with the Earth is the infamous Chicxulub asteroid, which impacted Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula 65 − 66 million years ago. This mammoth asteroid caused a 10 mile wide crater and was from a 60 km (37.28 mile) fragment associated with the larger 170 km wide parent bodyIt is estimated the Chicxulub impactor released the equivalent 100 teratons of TNT, which also qualifies as the largest explosion to happen on the planet. This asteroid’s impact is credited with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, causing the worldwide extinction of most dinosaurs.

Size Does Matter

To put the potential horrific effects of asteroids into perspective, we can use past asteroid encounters to determine the likely scale of catastrophic damage that would likely occur.

Image result for symbol for an asteroid  An asteroid about 40 meters in width could level the largest cities on the  globe.      

  Image result for symbol for an asteroid   An asteroid or comet of 400 meters, similar in size to the asteroid which NASA                   has forecasted to come near the Earth on Halloween, would cause serious                          geological damage to an entire continent.     

Image result for symbol for an asteroid    An asteroid about 1000 meters or larger, would likely end most life on Earth.

Trick Or Treat

Doomsday preppers are exceptionally excited regarding what NASA scientists are tracking and forecasting for asteroid 2015 TB 145. This 400 meter-wide (1,300 feet) is tracked using optical observatories and the radar technology of NASA’s Deep Network at Goldstone, California. Known as the ‘Great Pumpkin’ Halloween Asteroid, it is predicted to safely travel slightly beyond the moon’s orbit on October 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT., before returning back on its circular journey into the vast realm of our solar system.

According to the Minor Planet Center, which catalogs near-Earth objects (NEOs) this Halloween’s asteroid visitor is the closest known approach by any substantial celestial object until asteroid 1999 AN10 – which is a massive 800 meter sized object, whose orbit will return it near our moon in August 2027. ~

Resources And References Relating To This Subject Matter.

Halloween Asteroid a Treat for Radar Astronomy  http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news190.html

The Tunguska Impact — 100 Years Latter                                http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30jun_tunguska/                                              

Near-Earth Object Programhttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Near Earth Object Groupshttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/groups.html

NEO Earth Close Approacheshttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/

Chicxulub Crater 

Asteroid to narrowly miss Earth on Halloween — http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/21/us/asteroid-earth-nasa-halloween-feat/

Asteroid that could wipe out London — http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/592987/End-of-the-world-asteroid-Blood-Moon-September-apocalypse-armageddon-comet-meteor

A Glimpse Into Havana’s Legendary Watering Hole

EPSON scanner image

Photo essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

This intriguing photograph was taken in September, 1941 with only a few short months before North America entered World War II. The people gathered within this photo are at a bar named Sloppy Joe’s, in the old section of Havana, Cuba. Jose Garcia owned the bar, a popular sandwich on the menu called, ropa veija,” is what inspired the bar’s name.

Havana The First Port Of Call

The woman sitting in the first row, situated between the two gentlemen, is my grandmother, Alicia Klukas Vasquez.  My mother, uncle and grandmother were all traveling together on a large ocean liner from Brooklyn, New York to the country of Panama. The first port of call was Havana, Cuba, a sitter on board the ship watched over my mom and uncle, while many passengers, including my grandmother’s group explored Old Havana.  Sloppy Joe’s featured a massive, 60 foot long bar and was the center of attraction.

Crossroad Of The World

I vaguely remember seeing this photo at a young age, so it didn’t have a lot of significance for me back then. After being asked to scan the photo to provide copies for the family, I closely examined the image. What I now saw was an intriguing group of people who could have been actors out of 1940s Central Casting. The dynamic scene charged with atmosphere appeared as a production-style photograph, from a Golden Age of Hollywood movie. In doing research I learned Hollywood celebrities and world artist of the 1930s through the 50s would hang out at Sloppy Joe’s when in Cuba.

The bar was also known as the Crossroad of The World. Writer Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana when this photo was taken, and was a good friend as well as a loyal patron of the bar’s owner. Sloppy Joe’s attracted iconic actors; John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracey when they arrived in Havana. Learning of the watering hole’s patronage, I enlarged and examined the background in detail, to see if a famous face was peering from the shadows. The bar remained popular and active until the early 1960s when Fidel Castro’s communist revolution closed the doors.        

                                                   A Short Lived Reunion

The forward magazine of USS Airzona exploded after being hit by a Japanese bomb , December 7, 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture frame taken from on board USS Solace.Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection

The forward magazine of USS Arizona exploded after being hit by a Japanese bomb on December 7, 1941.                                                        Frame clipped from a color motion picture frame taken from on board USS Solace.
— Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection

After the ship departed Cuba my grandmother and her children arrived in Panama, where my grandfather was stationed in the Navy. Now united, the family was together for less than three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Link to my essay on photographing the New Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Hawaii. )  → photos of Pearl Harbor Visitor Center | bigpictureone Fear of the Panama Canal being invaded by the Japanese army, required all American citizens to be evacuated.    

 Mercy On The Sea

On an ocean liner once again, my mother and her family were halfway to New Orleans when a German U-boat submarine began stalking their ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The captain of the ocean liner, desperately, but wisely had all families bring their children above deck to line the railings for the U-boat’s German crew to see it was a civilian passenger ship they were about to attack. Fortunately, the wolf-pack sub slip quietly under the sea and was not seen for the rest of the voyage.

USS Missouri

USS Missouri “Mighty Mo” Iowa Class Battleship – The last battleship built by the U.S. and was the historic site on which the Japanese Emperor signed the surrender agreement to end World War II. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Restoring The Great Watering Hole

Here’s a happy update on Sloppy Joe’s in Havana! In 2013, this famous watering hole has been restored precisely as before with the massive 60 foot bar that my grandmother was photographed sitting at. Hopefully the opportunity for me to travel to Cuba with my camera comes soon. I would love to visit Sloppy Joe’s and take a photograph —using the same camera angle used to capture that moment-in-time when my grandmother was there with her party celebrating a port of call in Old Havana. ~

Cinema note: If you’d like to see what Sloppy Joe’s looked like back in the day, check out the 1959 film “Our Man in Havana“, starring Alec Guiness.

Please see my photo essay: A Pearl Harbor Photo Pilgrimage: A Pearl Harbor Photo Pilgrimage. | bigpictureone

Links related to the this story:

sloppy joes .org – The history of the legendary bar in Old Havana

Legendary Sloppy Joe’s and a Video featuring Old Havana, Cuba – during the 1930s. |

Stock Footage – Men serving drinks at Sloppy Joe’s Bar and a man sells dolls to people sitting in a car out side the bar in Havana, Cuba   

Sloppy Joes Recipe :Ellie Krieger : Recipes : Food Network

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Explosive Video Captures Seattle Kingdome’s Collapse Into Oblivion

Video and multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Preparing to record the mother of all collapses of a Seattle icon — we stood tightly packed, as a captive audience of thousands, ready for a chain-reaction roar from tons of ignited explosives. 

It was a sunny morning in Seattle on March 26, 2000, as my future wife and I set up video cameras to capture the Kingdome sports stadium’s last moments. Anticipating an enormous opportunity for dramatic video content, we arrived early, to set up tripods on a grassy knoll with an ideal stadium viewpoint. Our efforts were more than rewarded, with the structures stunning collapse; however the ensuing surprise aftereffects, were much more than planned for.

With only moments remaining for a syncopated, chain-reaction of explosions to pulverize its concrete victim —an anxious assembly of people, boats and helicopters settled in place. The percussive pops from helicopters perched overhead, drowned out voices from the crowd, whose attention focused ever sharper on the doomed stadium.  All in attendance knew not much time remained before one of the world’s largest buildings would only be a memory.Kingdome Demo_BPP_ 2

In these preceding moments my memories returned to the early mid 1970s when the dome was first built.  It proved a successful means to bring professional sports back to Seattle, with the Mariners and the Seahawks.  I recall the agony and ecstasy of seeing Seahawk football, played inside the dome: of how loud fan cheering was and standing up to do the “Wave” which had recently been invented and imported from UW, Husky Stadium.  The stadium’s greatest sports glory was: 1978-79 season of the SuperSonics, when the team won game 3 & 4 of the series at the dome; then winning the NBA Championship in-game 5, at a Washington DC against the Bullets.

Other events I attended at the dome were mega size rock concerts; although going to a concert at the dome was more about seeing the band, as the sound acoustics were horrible. One remarkable aspect forgotten about the dome was how cost-effective it was at a stadium facility; Nationally rated as a top civic venue for revenue generation, while producing real income for Seattle and King County.  After nearly three decades of use, the domes mushroom like esthetics lost its luster and would have a hard time winning in any beauty contest.  So, with maintenance and obsolescence catching up, its days became numbered and a decision had made on how to best remove it from the map. Imploding the Kingdome with explosives was selected the most efficient and quickest way to end its days.

Seattle Kingdome demolition March 26, 2000: view looking south moments before the explosion. Video by: David Johanson Vasquez /Bigpicturephoto.us  ©

Anxiously some groups near us began to chant out countdowns for the detonation to begin: their efforts produced nothing but collective groans when reaching zero.  On the third and final countdown a steady chorus chimed in, as we sensed this was going to be it.  In between one and zero, hundreds of pigeons near the stadium instantly took flight; suddenly, startling flashes of bright light burst from the structure’s seems, followed by plumes of smoke from shooting towards the sky.  At this instant, time seemed suspended; as if everything else in the world froze for a split second, to grant this colossus structure dignity of enjoying one last moment in the sun before falling from grace and collapsing into oblivion.  For a moment, it was like watching a surreal, silent movie, due to absent sounds of shock waves, which travel much slower than the light created by flashes of explosions.  A precise alignment of explosives, evenly spaced from the dome’s top to the ground, sliced through layers of concrete and steel, like a knife cutting wedges of a cake.  Finally, a ground-shaking roar of sound reached us and was now in synch with the dome as it collapsed in a slow-motion pantomime.  Astonishingly, the entire structure of 100 thousand tons of concrete and steel, which could have held several city blocks within its walls, appeared completely collapsed behind a dense shroud of dust and ash.

Watching in complete amazement and believing nothing could outdo what we had just witnessed, the crowds wild cheering was soon eclipsed by the sight of a rapidly advancing — ominous plume of swirling dust.  The ash cloud accelerated unexpectedly from the blast site as it expanded evermore rapidly by hundreds of feet within seconds. This monstrous cloud of caustic dust and debris ironically appeared to come to life, for avenging the destroyed stadium.

You could see large groups of pedestrians who were closer to the demolition site, scrambling into the streets to find cover from the unstoppable storm of dust. Within seconds, visibility of south Seattle was gone; the menacing shroud turned the sunny day into night as it rapidly descended north into the heart of the Emerald City.  Trying to keep my camera trained on the rogue cloud as it swallowed entire buildings and city blocks within its path, we notice it climbing to engulf our hill position. Grabbing the camera we scrambled for an exit, which would take us to safety in our vehicle.  Reaching the park car in record time, the dust storm’s leading edge was now depositing a layer of particles on the hood, with gray quarter-inch sized chunks floating down like snow.  Now safely inside, with relief we removed the sleeves from our faces, allowing for us to excitedly recount the dramatic events.

A few years later the EPA produced a report, which found comparable similarities in the debris particles from the Kingdome demolition; with what was found in the falling particles caused by World Trade Center attacks of 911.  The ejected powdered concrete caused an airborne mixture of caustic particulates, with high traces of pH levels.  The plan (or hope) for a debris cloud from the Kingdome demolition, was for a path heading south towards the industrial part of the city.  Normally, wind patterns in the area predominantly flow northwards, so the ill-conceived plan allowed for the dome to seek revenge and spread it remains throughout most of Seattle’s downtown area.

Up until now I’ve used this video for educational purposes in video production classes.  In the last segment of the video, are dramatic slow-motion and high-speed-motion of the Kingdome demolition. These techniques have a variety of applications for industry including: manufacturing, engineering, public services and creative entertainment.