Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New movie of the glow posted

Mount St Helens put on a brief display last night, but it didn't last for long as the clouds rolled in about an hour after sunset. So only a brief movie of the sunset and appearance of the glow in the crater posted today.

Mount St Helens - new images of the lavadome

The USGS/CVO have released a series of close-up images of the growing lavadome on Mount St Helens.

The large and growing welt looks more reminiscent of something from a 50's sci-fi film than the traditional picture of an erupting volcano. It's difficult to get a sense of scale from these pictures, but this new feature on the mountain is BIG, as evidenced by this USGS image comparing the lavadome to the size of 4 football fields! (BTW, I'm guessing that the USGS have used US football fields for this comparison, rather that real Aussie footy fields...)

Stunning Saturn view

NASA has released a stunning colour image of the moon Mimas floating above Saturn's rings, taken by the Cassini-Huygens probe on November 7. The striking background results from the shadows cast by the rings on the surface of Saturn itself.
The complete story and larger images available from NASA.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A glorious night on Mount St Helens

The sky was clear, the moon was high and multiple glows were visible in the crater of Mount St Helens last night. I've posted a new movie of last nights display here.

The image below shows Mount St Helens illuminated by the moon - it was created by stacking all the frames from last night and combining them using a fantastic little program called Image Stacker.


A good show on the mountain last night!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Mount St Helens illuminates the night

Last night the full moon illuminated the mountain and the flickering glow in the crater put on a good display for the entire evening. I've posted new movies of last nights show here.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Cleaning up the glow & Mt St Helens update

The clouds parted briefly last night to reveal the mountain illuminated by the full moon and the glow from the fresh lava eminating from the crater.

Below are two photos showing the effect of removing the noise from the Volcanocam images. The first is the image as received from the Volcanocam, the second after processing to remove noise (and converted to b&w). A movie of last nights brief display is also available here.


The original Volcanocam image.


The same image after processing.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The fires on Mount St Helens

The USGS/CVO has released new photos showing the growing lavadome on Mount St Helens. They show the dome structure at both visible and infra-red wavelengths and provide a glimpse of the true source of the glow that illuminates the crater at night and is captured on the Volcanocam images.


USGS images taken on 20 November 2004, by Jeff Marso, Matt Logan, and Stephanie Konfal

Volcano webcams around the world

Mount St helens remains elusively hidden by clouds and there was nothing to be seen in the images from last night (or this morning). Seismicity is still at low levels but has been increasing slightly over the last day or so. Does this mean a new eruption is imminent? Probably not, as its just a sign of the ongoing movement of lava to the surface and the continued growth of the new lavadome. And apprently strong winds on the mountain!

If you are interested in seeing other volcanoes around the world, there are a surprisingly large number of webcams trained on different mountains around the world. A great site that has links to dozens of them is John Seach's Volcanlive website.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A titanic view

NASA has just released a stunning image of Saturn's moon Titan. A composite of several images snapped by the Cassini spacecraft last month during its closest approach so far to the intriguing moon.


Source: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The glow peaks from behind the clouds

The US Forest Service Volcanocam images of Mount St Helens last night revealed a mountain partially illuminated by the moon and swirling in clouds. The incandesent glow from the lava in the crater made several appearances when the clouds briefly parted, as you can see here!

The welt in the dome

The growth of the new lava dome in the crater of Mount St Helens continues to grow at an impressive rate. Arrays of GPS positioning sensors known as "Spiders" have been placed on the growing dome and show a southeastward movement at a rate of about 10 meters (33 feet) per day! Indicating a sustained and continued outpouring of lava to form this impressive structure - the source of the incandescent glow that illuminates the crater at night.


Source: USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington. November 20, 2004, photograph by Jeff Marso

Monday, November 22, 2004

A new glow on Mount St Helens?

While processing the images from last night, I noticed one frame in which a brief flash of light was visible in the crater, but far to the left of the regular location of the glow near the lavadome. The time of this particular image was 21 November 23:36.

This may just be noise, but the spot of light is far brighter and different in nature to the normal residual noise on the night time images. I have overlaid the processed frame and an image of the regular glow over a shot of the crater taken in daytime to give an idea of its location.

If its real, it may indicate a new hotspot in the crater, or be the result of the incandescent glow from the lava reflecting off snow at the rear of the crater. Time will tell if this was a real event, or just a particularly bright bit of noise...

The glow returns (briefly) to Mount St Helens

The view of the mountain on the Volcanocam is obscured by clouds this morning (see below), but the "glow" did appear briefly last night before the clouds closed in around 6:30pm. So I have posted a brief Flash movie of the sunset and the appearance of the glow last night.

Hopefully, with the Volcanocam working again, we will get a good view of the mountain illuminated by the moon as it approaches full over the next few days, similar to the great views we had last month. Stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Serendipity - Hubble tracks asteroid

While using the Hubble Space telescope to view the Sagittarius dwarf irregular galaxy (SagDIG), a team of astronomers received an unexpected surprise. Hubble had recorded the passage of a small asteroid across the recorded image of the galaxy. While satellite tracks and the passage of aeroplanes are a constant source of annoyance to ground based astronomers and astrophotographers - this is possibly the first case of a foreign body interfering with the recording of an image from the space based Hubble!


Source http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/newsdesk/archive/releases/2004/31/

Volcanocam springs back to life

The live feed from the Volcanocam at Mount St Helens came back to life this morning at 07:36. The view shows a steam plume rising gently from the crater floor above a snow covered mountain. Assuming the Volcanocam is back to full health, and the weather stays clear, I should have be able to post a new movie of the night time glow tomorrow morning on my main website.

The image below will be updated automatically every 5 minutes on the server. Just hit refresh/reload in your browser to see the new image and remember if its nightime, you may be able to see the glow amongst all the noise :-)


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Mount St Helens - good weather, but no show

The USGS/PNSN are reporting that after "...several days of poor weather, excellent conditions are permitting a host of field operations. Thermal-imaging and geologic observations have just started and are having the clearest views of the crater, uplift, and new lava dome since 12 November."

However, if you go to check out the Volcanocam all you will see is a foggy/cloudy image of the mountain from yesterday afternoon from 15:56. It seems there is a problem with the feed from the Volcanocam to the server. So until its fixed, lets keep our fingers crossed nothing spectacular happens :-)



Friday, November 19, 2004

Cloudy on Mount St Helens and Mars!

The Volcanocam was playing up last night and images were not being transmitted to the server between twilight until almost 01:00 am, after that the view of the mountain was obscured by fog & clouds for the entire evening - so no glow...

On a different planet, Mars, clouds are less of a problem and far more fascinating. The Mars Exploration Rover website has released a new image showing whispy cirrus clouds in the Martian sky above the Endurance Crater. There's something about seeing clouds in the sky that makes Mars feel a little less alien and a little more welcoming - at least to my mind.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

New satellite images and programs

In case you didn't hear about it, Google recently aquired satellite imagery provider Keyhole. For most of us the really interesting news is that Keyhole/Google have just released a new software application to access Keyhole's large database of satellite images. The program, called Keyhole LT 2 enables the user to zoom in from space and even down to the level of seeing your own house! Although the ability to see your own backyard from space is restricted to major cities, mainly in the USA. There is a free trial of the software which provides 7 days access to the database, after that it costs US$29.95/year.

A free alternative which provides almost identical functionality is WorldWind from NASA. The Worldwind browser links to a range of satellite imagery and delivers it to your desktop - for FREE! The only potential issue for many people will be that the Worldwind download is >100 Mb, which will limit its use to people with high speed internet access. Another useful feature is that its possible to also download some of the high resolution data directly to your computer (including Mount St Helens!) to bypass any download bottlenecks.

All quiet on the Volcanocam

The glow on Mount St Helens only made a very brief appearance on the Volcanocam last night (10 minutes), so i haven't posted any new movies. The weather has closed in with snow and low clouds obscuring the view of the mountain.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bright and vigorous glow last night

The glow on the Volcanocam images didn't appear until about 11:00pm last night. But after it did, the display was vigorous, quite bright and lasted until sunrise. Check it out here!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A birthday for the glow on Mount St Helens?

The glow on the Volcanocam images of Mount St Helens was first noticed early on the morning of 11 October 2004. The USGS first indicated that fresh lava had broken through to the surface of the crater on 12 October. However, using archived Volcanocam images it has been possible to identify when the glow first appeared. Read all about the glow's birthday here.

Monday, November 15, 2004

New movies of the glow on Mount St Helens

The glow returned to Mount St Helens last night and lasted throughout the night. New movies available here.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Mount St helens continues to glow throughout the night...

Another good show on Mount St Helens over the last two nights. On Friday night there was a quite vigorous display on the Volcanocam images prior to midnight, then little visible activity - possibly due to obscuring clouds. Last night the glow was visbible for most of the night. New movies for both nights available here.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Mount St Helens glows throughout the night

Another good show on Mount St Helens last night with several plumes of steam/ash illuminated throughout the night. The new movies are posted here.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Most detailed views yet of Martian moon

The European Space Agency has released the most detailed images yet of the Martian moon Phobos. The images show the Mars facing side of a moon pockmarked with craters and grooves. The level of detail will keep planetary scientist busy for years.

Mount St Helens puts on good show last night

The night began quietly but after a couple of hours the glow on the mountain returned with a vigorous and quite spectacular display, with individual plumes flickering on and off until sunrise.

The USGS are reporting that "...Current estimates are that the welt, the broad area of deformation, is about 600 m (about 1950 feet) in diameter. The new lava dome, which occupies the central and western parts of the welt, is about 400 by 180 m (1300 by 600 feet). The highest point on the new lava dome is about 250 m (820 feet) above the former surface of the glacier that occupied that point in mid-September. Maximum surface temperatures on the new dome remain at about 700 degrees C (1300 degrees F). GPS instruments on the welt show rates of movement of up to several meters per day, while GPS instruments on the 1980-86 lava dome show movements of up to 1-2 cm (less than one inch) per day northward, away from the growing welt and new dome."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

New movie of Mount St Helens posted

The glows from the crater of Mount St Helens persisted all night and I have posted a new movie here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mount St Helens puts on another good show overnight

The U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network are reporting that the "latest estimate of the volume of the uplifted area and new lava dome from detailed analysis of aerial photographs taken on 4 November is about 20 million cubic meters (26 million cubic yards)" and that the "...new uplift and lava dome is now more than 25% of the volume of the lava dome that grew in the crater between 1980 and 1986"!

The mountain put on another good but relatively quiet show on the Volcanocam last night, with several distinct glows visible throughout the night. The brightest and most persistent of the glows still corresponds to the large area of glowing lava indicated in the recent photos from the USGS that were posted here last night.

New Firefox browser released today

The new Firefox v1.0 browser has been launched today with much fanfare. I have been using the release candidate edition for the last 6 weeks and can say that it is not just an alternative to Internet Explorer, it is in many ways far superior. Its a small download and its fast and efficient (and without all the anoying security worries of IE6). Give it a try and download from here! Highly recommended.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Mount St Helens night glow in colour

The USGS Cascades Volcanic Observatory has just released high resolution images taken on 5 November 2004, that show the source of the red glow from the growing lava dome in greater detail than we have seen previously. Looking at these images, especially the second one shown below, clearly shows the larger area of red hot lava to the right of the central plume of steam - corresponding to the position of the most persistent hot spot that shows up on the nightly webcam movies. Much larger images are available on the USGS CVO site.




Mount St Helens - update

There is little visible change to be seen on the Volcanocam images today. The weather is clear and a gentle plume is rising from the crater. A number of press reports are saying that the lava dome (the presumed source of the nightime glow) has extruded an additional 100m since last week and is developing large piston shaped extrusions 30-35m high.

This constant movement of new lava to the surface is the most likely cause of the nightime glow. Over the last few days the relatively quiet nature of the volcano has made it possible to look more closely at the source of the glow in successive images from the volcanocam.

One observation is that the glow only appears on the Volcanocam images after the light level has decreased to the point where the camera effectively stops responding to colour and the noise levels increase. This may be due to the camera auto switching to b&w mode and increasing the gain, hence the higher noise levels. It is also interesting that the location of the most persistent of the glows from night-to-night, doesn't seem to correspond to the source of the central plume that you can see today in the Volcanocam.

I'm going to try and generate some images to examine this further and post them on the website soon. In the meantime, I have posted a movie of last nights display here.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Update on Mount St Helens

Activity at the Mount St Helens volcano continues at low levels and it currently has a gentle plume of steam rising from the crater with occaisional ash releases - latest update. The eerie glow returned again last night with multiple small distinct glows visible from individual plumes during the night. The movie of last nights display is available here.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Great colour photo of the Mount St Helens glow

The Associated Press (AP) have released a great colour image of Mount St Helens showing the red glow which was taken on the night of 4 November 2004. Its available on Yahoo news.

Another relatively quiet night at Mount St Helens

For most of yesterday and this morning the Mount St Helens volcano has been fairly quiet, with much less steam visibly rising from the crater. However, this has made it easier to notice the occaisional brief releases of ash (which have a distinct brownish appearance and don't dissapate as quickly as steam). The nightly glow returned last night with several small distinct glows visible from individual plumes during the night. The movies of last nights display are available here.


Friday, November 05, 2004

Beam me up Scotty...

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the US Airforce has been funding research into teleportation! The US$25,000 report was prepared by Warp Drive Metrics of Las Vegas and can be downloaded from the FAS website. It doesn't look like they have devloped a working model yet, but good to see the military spending money on something that doesn't go bang for a change.

A relatively quiet night on Mount St Helens

Last night the glow persisted in the Mount St Helens Volcanocam images for the entire night, with only a single brief flareup around 4:00am. As the volcano was intermittently releasing small ash plumes yesterday, it is feasible that the brief flash at 4:00am was due to the increased reflectivity of the glow off a minor ash release. The new movie is available here.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The nightly glow returns to Mount St Helens

The eerie glow that fascinates people watching the Volcanocam at night returned last night. So I have posted a new movie of the glow on the website. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A shot of last weeks lunar eclipse

A shot of the lunar eclipse during totality on the night of 27 October 2004. One hundred images were combined and stacked together to produce this shot. Individual images taken with a Canon 300D Digital Rebel with a 200mm lens at f4.5, 1/10 sec, ISO=800.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Mount St Helens eruption at night revealed!

Not long after Mount St Helens began its recent series of eruptions, a few people noticed a strange glow on the US Forest Service webcam. The images are very noisy and its difficult to make much out, but a little image processing can make all the difference.

Amazing image of moon shepherding Saturn's F-ring

Going through the Cassini Raw Images I noticed this great close-up shot of a moon shepherding the F-ring. It very clearly shows the moon perturbing the ring and there appears to be a thin stream of material between the moon and the rings. I'm guessing that its probably Prometheus, but I haven't seen this image described or reported anywhere. The shot was taken on October 29, 2004.


The URL for the full sized image and description is http://saturn1.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/raw/raw-images-details.cfm?feiImageID=26447

Hello World

My first ever blog and my first ever post.

I guess I could attempt to make some grand statement on the nature of the universe, or try and predict the outcome of today's US election. Maybe describe the view of the North Shore mountains I see out my window, or just introduce myself.

Instead, I'll do what I did 20 years ago when I bought my first computer. I'll just say, "Hello World".



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