Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sunset views of Mauna Loa

I'm still feeling crap but not quite as ill as a couple of days ago, so am hopefully on the mend! I was planning to spend a couple of days in the yard this weekend but that certainly didn't happen and instead have been somewhat inactive inside the house while moaning about the heat and humidity. Although this island is so beautiful with a very warm climate, it can be a particularly unpleasant place to live when you're ill and you haven't got air conditioning!

Anyway, I'm still going through some of my old photos and found a couple more to reprocess. The problem I had was my old PC died a few months ago and although all my original images were backed up and safe, the processed images weren't so although I managed to save some (anything taken after May as it happens) the others needed some work.

These are a couple of of images I took last December while on an observing run that was plagued by clouds but as usual that meant stunning sunsets. Mauna Loa is a massive volcano, in fact it is the largest one on the planet. Its enormous wight bends the sea floor below by an incredible five miles and if you use that to measure its base, the volcano is a mind-blowing 56,000 feet tall!

It is also rather active. Although nothing untoward is happening currently it typically erupts every decade or so but it hasn't erupted since 1984. Fortunately, the eruptions tend not to be explosive like the infamous Mount St Helens eruption and even though it produces lava flows that move rapidly there is usually enough warning for people to evacuate although property is often destroyed. The last eruption in 1984 threatened the island's main town, Hilo, but the eruption stopped and the supply of lava was cut off to the flow which stopped just a few miles from the outskirts of Hilo Town. I wasn't living here then, but it must have been a worrying and frightening time.

Where the lava flows during the next eruption is unknown, the mountain threatens communities everywhere on the island although the Ka`u region on the south-eastern side of the island is particularly threatened and there's even more of a threat to South Kona on the west side of the island; the lava from the summit can reach those places in just a few hours after the initial eruption.

It would be amazing to be on Mauna Kea when the next Mauna Loa eruption occurs, the view must be spectacular if a little frightening.

Incidentally, I know one or two people must be wondering, but the UFO picture in my last blog entry was photoshopped. I was curious to see if anyone took the bait (apparently, 1,500 twitters were told about project Oink and UFOs over Mauna Kea spying on the US Navy's latest submarine) but the original photo was posted just a few days ago in "Recycling old photos". I'm encouraged, by the way, that I didn't get more comments, but the hits on this blog certainly went up that day!


Beep said...

I am relieved to read that you are getting better. Take care.

Rajesh said...

Spectacular sky shots.

Keera Ann Fox said...

What stunning colors! And what you say about Mauna Loa's size is amazing! It does blow the mind. Sorry you still feel crap, but glad to hear there's improvement.

Tom said...

Thanks, all, and it's really great to be back in the land of the living again. Rajesh, I think this might have been your first comment here and if so, thank you for popping by!

Keera - it didn't click at first, but measured from sea floor to summit Mauna Kea is twice as tall as Everest is high. That's pretty amazing!

Andrew Cooper said...

Looks like some photogenic conditions lately atop the mountain. Thanks for the eye candy to remind me of what a special place Mauna Kea is.

I am looking forward to going back up, but after a month at sea level the first few days are going to be tough!