Erupting comet is difficult to see
Besides a full moon that appears bigger than usual, isle residents might be able to see an erupting comet in the Perseus constellation tonight.
The only problem is the full moon could hamper visibility of Comet 17P/Holmes, which astronomers in Japan and Europe say is undergoing a spectacular eruption.
Carolyn Kaichi, Bishop Museum Planetarium manager, said the Perseus constellation is about halfway up in the eastern night sky by 8:30 a.m.
"This is naked-eye visibility, but we do have a full moon out so it will be difficult at best."
Space Weather News reported that the comet has brightened by a factor of 500,000 or more during the past 24 hours to become a naked-eye object in the night sky.
Scientists speculate that the eruption of material could mean the comet's core is breaking up or a vein of ice is suddenly exposed to sunlight, Space Weather News said. It says to look for a yellow 2.5-magnitude "fuzzball" in the Perseus constellation after sunset, which means it will look a little dimmer than Big Dipper stars.
It looks more like a star than a comet now because it does not have a noticeable tail, according to the report. "But it might grow one as the outburst continues," it said.
Tonight's full moon will appear larger than usual because it is closer to Earth in its elliptical orbit.
Senate bill pegs $160M for isles
The U.S. Senate has approved nearly $160 million for Hawaii-related labor, health and education initiatives, including $25 million for construction of a regional biodefense laboratory.
Sen. Daniel Inouye said yesterday that the lab is vital to the security of the nation. "It will protect all Americans, and it will make our communities more secure in our post-9/11 world," said Inouye, D-Hawaii.
"This regional lab will be crucial to developing the shields and the coordinated responses to biological or chemical attacks, or infectious diseases that may threaten Hawaii or other parts of the United States," he said.
The legislation also includes seven projects totaling more than $57 million that will directly benefit native Hawaiians.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said he was especially proud of the funding he and Inouye were able to secure "to provide for the culturally relevant and appropriate native Hawaiian health care and education programs."
The legislation includes $46 million for impact aid funding for Hawaii to support the state's public school system for the education of dependents of members of the armed forces and federal government employees.
Money for the various projects is part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which the Senate passed 75-19.
The measure advances to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences. Following House and Senate passage of the final version of the bill, it will be sent to President Bush for his signature.
Police, Fire, Courts
Biker killed in Haleiwa identified
The Medical Examiner's Office identified the motorcyclist who was killed on the North Shore Tuesday night as Nathaniel Graves, 30, of Haleiwa.
Graves died after he crashed on Kamehameha Highway while trying to make a turn Tuesday night in Haleiwa.
Police said that at 11:54 p.m. the motorcyclist was driving a blue 2004 Kawasaki motorcycle on the highway toward Waimea when he crashed just past Emerson Road.
Police said the driver went off the highway onto a gravel shoulder, was ejected from the cycle and hit some bushes and a wooden utility pole. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said he was not wearing a helmet.
Police said speed appears to be a factor in the accident, but have not yet determined whether alcohol also was involved.
Police said Graves is the 50th traffic fatality of the year on Oahu, compared with 79 at this time last year.
Coast Guard flies aid to cruise ship
The Coast Guard delivered emergency medical supplies yesterday to a cruise ship 1,000 miles north of Oahu to help a 62-year-old male passenger who was bleeding and vomiting.
The Coast Guard C-130 Hercules rescue plane flew from Barbers Point to take the supplies to the vessel, the Radiance of the Seas, and arrived at 7 a.m.
The ship had called the Coast Guard at 9 p.m. Tuesday, requesting aid.
The man was in stable condition and remained aboard the ship in the care of the ship's doctor, the Coast Guard said.
The ship is due in Honolulu tomorrow.
Boy is arrested over knife threat
A 13-year-old Pearl City student was arrested yesterday after he allegedly threatened a 12-year-old male student with a knife.
The alleged threat occurred at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday at a Pearl City school, according to Honolulu police.
The 13-year-old boy allegedly pulled out a knife, pointed it at the younger boy's chest and threatened to kill him, police said.
Officers arrested the suspect for investigation of first-degree terroristic threatening.
Alleged sex abuse being investigated
Police are investigating a 19-year-old Ewa Beach man who allegedly sexually assaulted his 16-year-old neighbor at about 10 p.m. Sunday.
Police said the victim reported the incident to police and went to the Sex Abuse Treatment Center for an examination.
The man has not been arrested, police said yesterday.
Suspect arrested during traffic stop
A 29-year-old man who allegedly beat and choked his girlfriend Tuesday night was arrested after a routine traffic stop in Waianae.
At about 7 p.m. the suspect pushed his 28-year-old girlfriend to the ground and choked her in their Waianae home, according to a police report.
Police said he also beat her with his fists and kicked her. She threatened to call the police, and he fled.
About four hours later a patrol officer made a routine traffic stop, and the suspect was a passenger in the car. He was arrested on suspicion of felony abuse.
Suspect accused of forging checks
Police arrested a 28-year-old man Tuesday in a forgery case involving an elderly man's checks.
On Aug. 21 the suspect entered a Waipahu bank and allegedly cashed a check stolen from a 75-year-old man. Police said the suspect went to another branch of the same bank to cash another check.
The man was arrested on suspicion of two counts of second-degree forgery, two counts of second-degree identity theft, two counts of second-degree theft and unauthorized possession of personal confidential information.
Police say woman slashed victim
Police arrested a 44-year-old Waianae woman who allegedly slashed a 47-year-old Waianae woman last night with a broken beer bottle.
Police said the two women argued at the victim's home at about 5:05 p.m. yesterday. The suspect grabbed a beer bottle, broke it on a fence and slashed the victim with it. The victim was not taken to a hospital.
Police arrested the 44-year-old on suspicion of second-degree assault.