Most of the North Island enjoys sunny weather on New Year’s Day but that’s a different story for the South Island, and the rain will spread.
MetService forecaster Aidan Pyselman said the first day of 2021 brought clear skies for much of the North Island, with hotspots reaching 28C at Masterton and Blenheim.
But it was “not lightning southward” with rain and thunderstorms overhead in the Canterbury interior of rolling hills and mountains.
It is estimated that thunderstorms in the area from around Oxford to the south to the Saint Bathans Mountains and Kakanui Mountains could become severe and cause local heavy rains with rainfall rates of 25 to 40mm / hour.
A “very rare” celestial event will take place over the next several nights to delight Kiwi stargazers across the country.
However, weather forecasts have dampened the “once in a lifetime” experience, with Metservice saying heavy cloud forecasts could complicate the event.
“Most of New Zealand looks cloudy,” said Meteorvice meteorologist Tuporo Marsters.
Marsters said there could be some lag in the cloud to reveal the connection, but “I’m not going to put my money into it.”
The extremely rare event – also known as the Great Conjunction – has been happening for hundreds of years and won’t happen again until 2080, Otago Museum director and astronomer Dr Ian Griffin told RNZ’s Morning Report.
“They will be so close together, you will not be able to separate them with your eyes … you will need binoculars and a telescope to divide them.”
“Jupiter and Saturn unite roughly every 20 years, that’s not very special, but to get this close in the sky is very rare.”
Some astronomers’ calculations suggest that the last time the planets got this close was in 1226, he said.
It is also called the Star of Bethlehem because “in 7BC there was a connection between Jupiter and Saturn, and at that time the ‘wise men’ were astrologers and this would have had significance for them,” he told RNZ.
It is also mentioned in the Bible.
Famous astronomer Dr Grant Christie said although the planets will be at their closest point in our sky since the discovery of the telescope, they are nowhere near in space.
“On December 21, Jupiter will be 763 million km from Earth while Saturn will be 856 million km outside.”
Griffin says the best seats in the home for viewing conjunction are anywhere with clear skies tonight or tomorrow night – however, they can be hard to come by.
The best chance of viewing is from sunset onwards for about an hour and a half later, he said.
“They disappeared at 11:15 p.m., so you have to get out after sunset.
“Jupiter and Saturn are relatively low in the southwestern sky. So go out tonight, find the moon, then look left and you will see a bright star and that is Jupiter and Saturn,” he told the Morning Report.
“Then if you point your telescope or even binoculars at that bright star, you will see that there are two planets – Jupiter and Saturn with their beautiful rings.
“And if you look closely, you’ll see several moons, four Jupiter moons, and one Saturnian moon. That’s going to be seven planetary bodies, all in that one field of view.
An Australian doctor based in Otago who flies frequently over Tasman has spent Christmas with her husband after he was denied entry to his flights.
Dr Deborah Mills, known as Dr Deb, just waved to her daughter at Brisbane International Airport on December 1 and left to check-in before being told she did not meet the criteria to return to New Zealand.
Dr Mills said after she and husband James Stewart first discovered the trench in late 2012, they both fell in love with New Zealand immediately.
In March 2014 they purchased a home in Careys Bay, Dunedin, and moved in December.
However, his travel drug business is in Australia and with Covid-19 he is starting to end it due to a lack of travel.
“I’m a travel medicine doctor, I give people immunizations when they go abroad to places like Africa and South America and I’m a specialist in infectious diseases, like dengue fever. [fever] and malaria.
“I went back to work for a few weeks and came back to New Zealand. There were no travel treatment opportunities in New Zealand, of course in the area where we are … so that’s why I’m commuting.”
She thought she had arranged everything she needed for the return trip back to Dunedin when she was shocked to be told by airline staff that she would not be boarding.
“I can’t believe it, like ‘is this really happening?’
“I was so stressed. I was just like ‘Oh my God, you can’t be serious?'”
He was finally able to speak to an Immigration spokesman on the phone who told him he was basing his decision on Mills’s travel history.
“I said ‘okay, I’m a fly-in fly-out worker, my travel history is not the full story, I have everything here, I’ve brought it to show you’ and he said he couldn’t see that and he had to hang up. now. “
Knowing she might be questioned, she brings with her fare information, driver’s license and checking account if Immigration officials want proof that she has lived in New Zealand.
On its website, Immigration NZ said it would base its decision on peak evidence, but Dr Mills was annoyed to be told they based their decision solely on his travel history.
“He based his decision on aviation history and [Immigration website] it says we will see your flight history and other things, but he is not seeing other things, he is looking only at my flight history. “
Dr Mills’s argument proved fruitless and he was rejected from the airport and remained in Brisbane.
“I was there for all of the quarantine, we got a message from Jacinda and we watched [Covid updates] every day and I feel this is so unfair, my house is there.
“[Husband is] there alone and we were completely crushed, so devastated. “
Her daughters also live in Australia but have made plans in other parts of the country to celebrate Christmas.
Luckily, Mills was able to spend Christmas with his mother, who lives in Brisbane.
Mills said he spoke up to highlight the issue because he believed he would not be the first to have this experience.
He said rather than making an optional assessment, and leaving a number of unknowns of uncertainty for travelers, NZ Immigration should make it mandatory.
Fortunately, he had taken the bet last week and placed himself on Managed Isolation for February in the hopes that he would eventually get approval.
The approval came the same day the Herald raised questions on Mills’ behalf this week.
An INZ spokesman confirmed that Mills was denied boarding because INZ was “not satisfied he met the requirements to be considered an ordinary resident of New Zealand”.
“This is on the basis of his previous travel movements and that he is spending more time in Australia than in New Zealand.”
Subsequent Dr Mills visa applications for border exemptions were granted.
However, because Dr Mills had filed a formal complaint, INZ was unable to comment further.
The spokesman said in most cases people can provide supporting evidence that they normally stay in New Zealand when they travel.
“However, if there are circumstances where the status of their regular resident may not be clear, INZ strongly recommends that people submit an assessment request prior to their trip to New Zealand.
“Information about submitting an assessment request is available on the INZ website. There is no fee for this request for Australian citizens.”
Players train at the Auckland ASB Tennis Center in January under an orange sky, due to smoke emanating from Australian bushfires. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The unusual nature of Australia’s Black Summer bushfires may have marked the beginning of a fire-fueled “ice age” and the world appears to have “crossed the threshold” into a more dangerous future, said a global fire historian.
Professor Emeritus Stephen Pyne at Arizona State University is a former firefighter in the US who has previously studied Australian fires for his 1991 book, Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia.
Pyne said the 2019/2020 fires, which tore through 24 to 40 million hectares of scrub in several states and territories, marked the start of a global fire year.
“I think there will be a legacy because the fires are not limited to Australia, they continue to hit the western United States, they are in Europe and Siberia.”
Pyne said the scale of the Black Summer fires set it apart from fires in previous years.
“While there are no individual fires in Australia or elsewhere that are unprecedented, I think the scale is different because they come as a herd.”
Pyne previously thought the Black Saturday fires, which claimed the lives of 173 people in Victoria in 2009, had set a limit for what a single fire can do, but last year’s fire season swelled to months of continuous burning.
“What makes fires different in general is the large-scale swarm effect. It’s not two or three days apart outbreaks, they continued.
“I think of it as the ‘rolling thunder effect.’ When they come in a sequence like that, it just keeps expanding.”
Pyne said California is also a spectacular example of this, with the state experiencing the fourth consecutive year of historic fires.
He said that not all fires have the same cause, the fires in the Amazon are also related to land clearing and those that occur in Indonesia are related to draining tropical peatlands.
“But everywhere, fire seems to be a manifestation of the broken relationship between humans and nature,” he said.
“I think we have the potential to cross the threshold this year.”
NEW ‘AGE OF FIRE’
Pyne believes the way humans manage natural landscapes, combined with the treatment of fossil fuels, may have given birth to a new “ice age”.
“We take stuff from our geological past and burn it without understanding the effect, and this is released into our future.”
He said that the increasing severity of fire was a manifestation of this activity, which also changed sea levels and caused widespread extinctions of plants and animals.
“We are reshaping the planet directly and indirectly.”
In the same way that ice is seen as a physical manifestation of changes in Earth’s temperature during the Pleistocene era, fire can be a manifestation of a new era that Pyne calls the Pyrocene era.
“For the fires in Australia, it turns out to be what led to an extraordinary global fire year, and it can also be taken as an indisputable marker for what I think of as our new fire age.”
Pyne believes that the smoke from fires, which obscure cities like Sydney and Canberra for days, could eventually get people to notice what’s going on around them, just as the dust storms of the 1930s sparked action in the dust bowl in America. .
He said action was being taken about agricultural practices when Washington DC began to feel the effects of massive dust storms spreading far from central US areas.
“This changed the discourse and suddenly it became a national issue. This gives extra urgency to many conservation programs and makes the issue visible to the public and Congress.
“My feeling is the smoke will do it for this last year’s fire.
“It makes visibility of impact clear to a larger audience and it can lead to change.”
Smoke from the Australian fires reached New Zealand and was reported to other areas around the world, while the smoke from the US fires was spreading to places people said were immune to fire, making it an unprecedented public health problem.
“I think people have a very high tolerance for fire images – they’re dramatic but limited to certain places, but smoke can spread widely,” said Pyne.
This way, the Black Summer fires can have a longer impact.
“I was tempted to think that it was a historical fire, but it might also be a fire depending on our response.”
Pyne said that fire is in our future no matter what we do.
“We have to control the fossil fuel burning party but even after this stabilizes or reverses, there will still be a lot of fires and we have to do a lot more than we did before.
“They are not leaving… we have a huge debt and we also have to put a lot of fire back into the environment.
“Even if we stop burning fossil fuels and step up our action on climate change, there will be a lot of fires in our future.
“It can be wild or devastating, or it can be controlled and actually produce good benefits.
“But it won’t go away.”
With the US still facing the repercussions of the presidential election, which Donald Trump still rejects, Pyne said Australia was in a better position to take action.
“You are really at the forefront, you are equipped with world-class fire science and forest fire fighting skills,” he said.
“I hope Australia can make the move and start responding in an engaged and informed way, in a way that the US and even Canada cannot.
“This is something that Australia can really lead, can engage with landscapes and fires, and cultural discussions are an interesting part of that too.”
Pyne said it’s not just about doing one big thing to solve climate change and fix the problem, there are lots of little things that can be done too, and these actions may differ in many areas.
“We need to decide what the problem is in each particular place and what kind of treatment suite makes sense there.”