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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ubbi's Eruption Makes Beautiful Sunset Colors and Bodes Well for Tomorrow's Total Lunar Eclipse

Mt. Ubbi in Eritrea, dormant since 1861, erupted this week, sending its cloud of volcanic ash, aerosols, and little glass beads into the upper atmosphere of the Middle East, where it created the beautiful sunset seen today in these photos from Mitzpe Ramon. There have been an unusually large number of recent volcanic eruptions, which usually create atmospheric conditions for very dark total lunar eclipses, since the volcanic ash tends to block sunlight from being refracted through the earth's atmosphere onto the eclipsed surface of the moon. But these things can be quite unpredictable, since volcanic materials high in the atmosphere can also create beautiful colors as the sun's rays are scattered through them. All of this makes the June 15 lunar eclipse all the more intriguing. Be sure to watch; anything can happen! And Keep on lookin' up!

Pre-eclipse moon rising during sunset on June 14, 2011
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