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La Palma volcano eruption

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Xilman's picture
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La Palma volcano eruption

A volcanic eruption started a couple hours ago about 5km south of my and Kevin Hills' observatories. Spanish TV news stations are showing nothing else.

A large cloud of ash and a noise which sounds like a military jet engine but nothing else in these parts.  Yet.

We live in interesting times.

Images and video I have taken is available on request but I don't want to clog the BAA website unless there is sufficient interest.

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Volcano

i hope your observatory is ok, there is certainly interest from me

Xilman's picture
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Pas de problème

It is noisy and there is a wonderful illustration of the old saying: Red sky at night, vulcanologists' delight but everything else is just fine. The camera has lost its cooling (as has Kevin's in the neighbouring dome) so we wouldn't be observing anyway but otherwise there is no good reason not to open up the domes.

This one is taken within 3 minutes of the start of the eruption. My dome is to the left, Kevin's to the right, largely hidden by the tree.

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Eeek. A bit close! At least

Eeek. A bit close! At least we don't have to worry about volcanic dust clouds when observing from the UK. There is some quite spectacular footage on the Reuters site here. The pictures from El Paso and Los Llanos look very familiar. 

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Volcanic activity

Paul,

I dunno if it's not rain clouds, forest fires or dust storms it would have to be volcanic clouds and dust to keep us astronomers from observing. I hope conditions remain only as interesting for you Paul.

I would be interested in how the activity progresses.

keep safe, Eric

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Son et luminère

It is a bit noisy and we have Bortle 9 skies to the south at present. I now have some more images and a few videos which are perhaps of interest.

Ah well.  It all adds a modicum of interest to an otherwise tedious existence.

Incidentally I, SWMBO and two in-laws were stuck in La Palma for several days when Mount Unpronounceable erupted in Iceland a few years aback and closed down almost all European airspace. That one definitely increased the sky background brightness and reduced the transparency in the UK.

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Eyjfjallajokull

We did have an incredible run of clear skies though. I recall not using the 4th clear night in a row because I was so tired.

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Tired ??

That 'Condition' has a Remedy Grant.. It is called 'The Astronomers Prayer'. To be uttered upon pulling back the Curtains..I remember well the Day I learnt of this and was sworn to Secrecy.. It was also the day I was later diagnosed with 'Bells Palsy'.. and Princess Di's brother got married..

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Even more son et luminère

Eruption now becoming quite explosive.  Pyroclasts reaching 300m in altitude according to my rough and ready observations and trigonometry.

Certainly much noisier and brighter tonight, though the noise is mostly coming in pulses and the background roar is noticeably lower.

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Spanish PM arrives to help out

According to the BBC, help has arrived in the form of the Spanish PM.

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Typical politician

Absolutely typical. Politicians always like to come rubber-necking when something mildly interesting occurs.

Further, they invariably promise that help and monetary compensation will be made available instantly. True in this case too.

There is still a very noisy pillar of hot ash visible from the window next to where I am typing.

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Boris too

Don't worry - Boris will soon be there in hard hat and high-viz jacket!

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Precise location

Now that more information is becoming available I have been able to pinpoint the location of the eruption to within a few metres. As best I can make out, it is at latitude 28°36'54"N, longitude 17°52'02"W which is 3.2±0.1 km almost due south of here.  (Here being Tacande Observatory which is labelled on Google Maps.)

The view is quite impressive after dark but the volcano has caused no trouble at all for Kevin and me as yet.

The location is very close to this point in Google Maps:

https://www.google.es/maps/@28.6154215,-17.8670681,268m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

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Lava flow

There is a high res map of the lava flow here. You are a little way off the top of the frame.

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Ash

Kevin's all-sky camera is reporting a light dusting of ash at Tacande.

The INT and NOT (at least) are not opening up tonight because of ash in the air. Not yet head about the WHT and GTC.

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Comments deleted

As requested, I've deleted the comment which didn't belong in this thread, and have copied that content into a new thread.

Karl - as others commented, I'm sure your post will be of interest many people, but it didn't belong in this particular thread!

While I'm here.... I was curious about Paul's comment above that he'd not heard whether the WHT was opening up currently. Am I right in thinking the WHT is (still) offline all this year for WEAVE commissioning? But presumably that's now reached a point where they're doing on-sky calibration work most nights? (Assuming the engineers are actually able to travel to La Palma at the moment!)

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WHT & travel.

Thanks Dominic.

You are likely correct about the WHT. I just assumed it might be trying to look at the sky without actually checking on its current status.

Travel to and from La Palma is straightforward for fully vaccinated European citizens. SWMBO and I had no problem getting there in late June and coming back the UK required us to have PCR tests before and after the flight this week. Passenger location forms were required by both the Spanish and UK governments. The tourist industry is recovering and accommodation levels are about 80% at peak; most visitors are from Germany and The Netherlands, but that has long been the case.

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Travel

Latest news: getting there is currently a PITA. The airports at both La Palma and La Gomera (SPC and GMZ respectively) are now closed because of ash from the volcano.  The rest of the Canarian airports are still open so you could fly into LPA, TFN or TFS and get the ferry.  I wouldn't bother myself.

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Airport re-opened

SPC is now open, for the time being.

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Another one bites the dust.

This is a before and after image of an amateur observatory on La Palma. Note the apertures of the telescopes --- 80cm and 50cm. Serious kit.

I never met Rico but exchanged email.

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Terrible

There can't be many 0.8m telescopes on LP: https://www.astrosysteme.com/references/asa-az800-in-spain/.

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Insurance

Wow ! :-(    Can you even insure against such an event ?

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Insurance

Not now.

By chance we took out fire / flood / vandalism / etc insurance on our place a week or so before the eruption started. The insurance company didn't want to touch our observatories so we were going to check for specialist companies when back in the UK.

It is possible to insure almost anything against almost anything if you are prepared to pay the premium.

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News coverage

Excellent live coverage at https://rtvc.es/en-directo/

It helps if you understand Spanish ...

Their live feed from the Cumbre Vieja shows that large amounts of liquid are still coming out but the explosive gouts appear to be somewhat reduced from when we left several days ago.

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Magestic

That video feed of the vent is majestic and scary at the same time. It is also quite hypnotic.

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Response

I have found it majestic and hypnotic but not, perhaps strangely, scary. That's the case whether watching live or over the net.

Last night (i,e. 24 hours after the above posts) it became markedly more explosive with enormous lumps of lava being thrown a hundred metres or more into the air. It was hard to judge scale but some of those pieces must have been well over a metre in diameter and so weighing several tonnes each. I was also watching what started out as a very minor effusive vent become much bigger and explosive.

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Night time violence from the volcano 4th October?

I was having a quick look at the Canary Islands live feed this evening and for a while it was just the odd red glow and then suddenly the whole screen lit up.  I've attached a screenshot.  I'm glad I don't have an observatory on La Palma - scary stuff!

Peter

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Lava fountain

If you watch the video feed for long enough you will find that at some times that happens about once a minute. Sometimes the vents do little but leak gently; sometimes they explode and send material hundreds of metres into the air.

Note that the side of the cone has collapsed. I watched much of that happening in real time.

All rather interesting as long as you are at a safe distance.