Volcanic sunsets and the Crescent Moon

With the eruption of volcano Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland causing disruption to UK controlled airspace (flight radar readout here) and with potential problems for the climate, it should be comforting to hear that there are good things to come out of this too – like volcanic sunsets. And we didn’t get it quite as bad as it has been in the past, either.

The ash pouring out of the volcano and into UK skies should greatly enhance the colours of sunsets normally seen. If you were looking out tonight, then the sunset should’ve given birth to a one day old Moon, just next to the planet Mercury and to the right and well below the altitude of Venus. Mercury will vanish from sight after this, but the crescent Moon and the sunsets should stay for the weekend. Reports are coming in that the eruption feeding the cloud is intensifying, though there’s no sign of an eruption of the far larger nearby volcano Katla, which normally accompanies these things. Tours of the erupting area have been canceled as the ash blocks out the Sun.

In Kendal it was pretty cloudy at the time of sunset, but then everything rapidly cleared. Stuart Atkinson then had a good evening’s planet watching, with a little hint of the vaguest bit of ashen sunset, but none of the golds and greens associated with more intense volcanic sunsets. On the other hand William Hay over in the Vale of Clwyd saw this:

Like Stuart, I saw nothing like that, but I did manage a snap or two of Venus, Mercury and the Moon. Here’s one of them:

Some pictures of the ash cloud are here. Latest on travel are here. Why pilots need to be aware of the ash is here. A European Space Agency satellite picture of the spreading ash cloud is here. The inevitable political cartoon to coincide with the UK Prime Ministerial TV debates is shown below:


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