As photography enthusiasts we concentrate on our efforts on ground-based photography, or sometimes from the air. Photographic imagery is also a valuable tool from space – to assist weather forecasting (of course), and also to monitor ash plumes from volcanoes. The ash can be very dangerous for airline operations, but isn’t always easy to detect when there is lots of cloud around.
A new polar-orbiting satellite was recently launched (Suomi NPP) and NASA has just posted an image from it, showing the ash cloud from Mount Tongariro, around an hour after it erupted late Monday evening. You can see the impressive full image at the NASA site, but below I’ve cropped in to show the central North Island with the ash heading east towards Hawke’s Bay. This image was from around 12:55 am NZ time – note the lights from major population centres as well.