Astronauts capture volcanoes’ glowing lava from space station


One of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station photographed this oblique night image of almost the entire countries of Italy on July 26, 2014. (NASA)

Red, glowing lava has been spattering and oozing from Mount Etna over the past few days, and International Space Station astronauts didn’t miss the opportunity to capture its likeness from space this morning.

It was really a team effort on the part of the ISS astronaut crew. Reid Wiseman captured this image of Mount Etna as well as Mount Stromboli (the small island above the toe of Italy’s boot) pumping out smoke and ash during daylight hours.

Then at night, Alexander Gerst captured the light radiating from the two volcanoes. It would be easy to miss if you didn’t know that both volcanoes were actively erupting — it just looks like another spec of light from a small town. But trust us, there’s no one living atop those mountains.

Zooming in on Gerst’s photo, you can see the pinprick of light surrounded by a circle of the mountain’s darkness on the east side of Sicily. The bright island in the upper right of the zoomed image is Mount Stromboli.


A zoom in on astronaut Alexander Gerst’s photo of Italy at night. (@Astro_Alex via Twitter)

Thursday morning, meteorologist Mari Ramos captured Mount Etna’s day and night comparison from the ground on CNN International:

On July 26, astronauts were able to capture a higher resolution image of the volcano, in which, despite its blurriness, you can see the glowing red lava, which is quite different than the surrounding yellow city lights. The full version of this image is at the top of this article.


Red lava in Mount Etna could be seen from the International Space Station on July 26, 2014. (NASA)

Video: Mount Etna erupts on Tuesday

 

Videographer Klaus Dorschfeldt was able to capture Etna’s eruption on Tuesday. He writes that the current activity on Etna is vigorous, with spectacular fountains and explosions. He says that lava is seen flowing into the Valle de Bove — a valley to the east of the active caldera, that was formed from previous calderas tens of thousands of years ago.

The volcano entered another active period of eruption over the weekend. Etna, which is located on the eastern side of Sicily, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The Journal.ie reports that a 100 meter (330 foot) ash plume is rising from the volcano, which is neighbor to the coastal Sicilian city of Catania.

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post's deputy weather editor.
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