Directly from Bad Astronomy, gorgeous images of Mt Etna (and other volcanoes) as seen from space. As a kid I used to watch Etna’s eruptions “live” from the windows of our home in Reggio Calabria.
There are a handful of volcanoes in the world that evoke an immediate recognition, dormant or not. Vesuvius, Krakatoa, Mt. St. Helens. Certainly, Sicily’s Mt. Etna is another. At 3300 meters in elevation, it’s the largest active volcano in Italy… and by active, I do mean active.
In 2002, Etna erupted in a relatively large display of lava and ash. This view was taken by Expedition 5 about the International Space Station, looking southeast at a low angle. This eruption let loose a river of lava down the flank of the volcano which set fire to pine trees there; the dark plume is from the eruption, but the whiter ones are from burning pine trees. The plume from this eruption blew south and was reported as far away as Libya, nearly 600 km distant.
Unlike Earth observing satellites, which point straight down, astronauts on the ISS have the luxury of seeing things at an angle, providing a more natural – and in this case, more spectacular – view to our human eyes and brain.