11 comments on “Hissing, Rumbling – and sometimes Erupting: MUTNOVSKY VOLCANO, Kamchatka

  1. WOW, this was a spectacular eruption this morning in Santa Maria volcano – Santiaguito dome, with an ash plume reaching 7 km altitude and heavy ash fall in the area. Ash drifted even as far as the Mexican town of ​​Soconusco in 145 km distance.

    Click on image for full size.


  2. Finally I have come across an image showing quite the same “apparition” I had seen in October 1989 in Germany. So – they were Sprites. 1989 was also the year American scientists had captured them on camera for the first time. Since I saw them, I have asked many people what they might have been, but nobody could give me an answer. More recently I read about sprites, but the images looked all very different. Moreover, sprites are electrical charges supposed to run from the top of heavy thunderstorm clouds into the upper atmosphere up to 90 km altidude. Therefore, they are rarely seen from the ground. That night, I was not aware of any bad weather (I would have been scared as we had to walk several km back home from the train station, around midnight), but being necessary for sprites there must have been such highly charged clouds somewhere in the distance.

    The left photo is a webcam capture from somewhere in the Czech Republic, posted on Twitter yesterday. People said it’s showing sprites. On the right, I have edited the original photo to show approximately what I had seen that night 27 years ago.


      • Albert, unfortunately, at the time it wasn’t possible to take (analog) photos at night… I don’t know about the webcam capture on the left, it was full moon a few days ago, so very bright anyway. – On the right I have just taken that same webcam photo and edited it to show an impression of what I remember. That was a pitchblack night, no moon visible, and the rays lipstick-red in the sky. It took me a few weeks to tell anybody at all about it for fear they might laugh and call me crazy 😀 (They did that anyway, saying it must have been a sign of god telling us to tear down the Berlin Wall… yeah, October ’89…)


        • It is impressive. BTW, did you check the possibility of having seen aurora? It is not normally that distinct far south, but there was a major (and famous) solar storm on 13 or 14 March 1989 so perhaps under ideal conditions it may have shown up as you saw. Sprites were an amazing discovery. Who would have thought lightning could have gone up as well as down?

          In the photo, I assume that the star that is visible in the sprites is Mars. That would have been ~15 degrees above the southwest horizon, based on the time in the photo (I think). That makes the sprite ~20 degrees high, and gives a distance of roughly 200 km (very rough!). There were thunderstorms over Germany at that time.

          I am surprised to see several in the same photo, and also by the brightness and colour information: I was wondering whether it is a composite.


          • Yes Albert, the more videos I watch about Red Sprites the more I become convinced that it wasn’t sprites. The main reason, actually the only reason, is that I don’t think they were so fleetingly fast, so flash-like. I seem to remember that I had enough time to stand gaping and watch. But then, I have looked at the ‘Image In My Mind’ for so long and so often since, that I can’t say for how long it was there. My daughter, who was with me that night as a 13-year-old, can’t remember having seen it at all. Btw, it was between October 20 and 30, 1989.
            As to the number of them: “If there is a convective system ensuring continuous aging and the subsequent initiation of new nuclei, we can observe several tens and in extreme cases even over a hundred Red sprites.” (from a Hungarian paper on the subject, translated from Czech 🙂 ) I also read that they can spread 50 km in width.

            I have searched for this Martin Popek (as in the webcam footer), an astro-photographer and hobby-astronomer, and I think he can be taken seriously, and not to pep up images. His webcam image was taken in Nydek, CZ, not far from the German border. On his website I also found that above mentioned Hungarian study:

            I have been lucky in 2004 (was it March?) when there also was a famous solar storm, to see an unbelievable aurora in the north of Ireland. It was also blood-red only and covered the whole northern sky and more from zenith to almost horizon (Atlantic coast) in rays, or umbrella-like spikes, with the centre high above me. It was there for about half an hour, only slightly changing and then fading away. (The following week I went and bought my first digital camera… too late!) But it was so decidedly different from my “sprites” that I am still looking for a third possible explanation. 🙂


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