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NOT bothered by volcanic ashes

The eruption on La Palma is continuing and our man on-site Emil Knudstrup reports minor problems with ashes.

The La Palma eruption on a moonlit night in October. Photo: Emil Knudstrup
The La Palma eruption on a moonlit night in October. Photo: Emil Knudstrup
The eruption as seen from the observatory. Photo: EK.
Getting closer to the eruption on a day tour. Photo: EK.
Getting closer to the eruption on a day tour. Photo: EK.
Carrying umbrellas on an ashy day. Note also the footprints. Photo: EK.
Carrying umbrellas on an ashy day. Note also the footprints. Photo: EK.
The NOT dome with a slight covering of ashes and a threatening cloud in the background. Photo: NOT..
The NOT dome with a slight covering of ashes and a threatening cloud in the background. Photo: NOT.

 

Even though the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) managed by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University is situated some 16 km North of the long lasting volcanic eruption on La Palma in the Canaries, there has from time to time been problems with ashes when the wind is in the "right" direction. Luckily no damage has ocurred to the telescope. The dome has obtained a fine cap of ashes that had to be removed with help from professionals, but the telescope proper has been closed down at times to protect the delicate mirrors. On and off there has been problems for our employees because air traffic to the island has been cancelled, and Emil informs us that the air at the mountain oftens smells of eggs, and recurring earthquakes have been so strong that one is awakened by the tremors or during observations that the guide star starts jumping in the scope. Many things are just at before the eruption, but Emil notes that it is a special experience being there right now. It is both scary and enourmously fascinating at the same time.

At Tenerife, the Canary island due East of La Palma, the eruption is clearly visible both day and night. From the time lapse camera at the Danish SONG-telescope Mads Fredslund Andersen has put together this movie from 9 October 2021. You can see the plume of dust, smoke and ashes from the volcano being blasted high above the cloud layer slightly to the right of the observatory dome building, and after sunset the lava lights up the night sky.