Astronauts Snag Dramatic Photographs of Alaska's Erupting Volcano

Images of volcanoes from space are often kind of disappointing. These, we assure you, are not.

ISS036-E-002105.jpg

Astronauts living on board the International Space Station managed to get these dramatic pictures of the Pavlof Volcano as it erupted over the weekend. The volcano began acting up last Monday, the 13th, its first eruption since 2007.

Images of volcanoes erupting from space are often a lot less interesting than they sound (volcanoes?! from space?! sign me up!). Satellites typically capture the Earth with a straight-down perspective, flattening the volcano's height and its rising ashy plume. As a result, eruptions tend to just look like a little smudge of gray trailing away from the Earth. For example, check out this image taken by NASA's Terra satellite on May 14th of this same volcano:

Pavlof5-14.jpg Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 11.33.28 AM-200.jpg

But astronauts have a bit more flexibility, and the Space Station provides them with a fast-moving platform from which they can capture an event from all different angles. According to NASA, the top image was taken from about 475 miles south-southeast of the volcano (map at right), giving the astronauts a more lateral view of the event. Two more images, also from astronauts on the ISS, are below. They were taken with a Nikon D3S digital camera equipped with an 800, 400, and 50 millimeter lens, respectively

ISS036-E-002464.jpg
ISS036-E-002780.jpg

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In