Another Volcanic Eruption Belches Smoke over Iceland


This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

After last April’s eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjalajökull volcano, millions of travelers were stranded from canceled flights due to the ash floating across Europe’s airspace. This week, another (slightly easier to pronounce) volcano in Iceland has erupted. After 7 years of relative inactivity, Grímsvötn burst back to the stage, shooting a huge plume of smoke 11 miles skyward. Already, dozens of flights have been canceled, but aviation experts expect that the fallout from the eruption will be less severe than last year when airspace was closed for over 6 days. Despite being relatively unaffected by the eruption in North America, it does give us an excuse to post this wondrous photo from NASA of the volcano from above:


If that photo wasn’t enough, check out this incredible video from Jon Gustafsson taken from a helicopter. I found the video on the Bad Astronomy blog and it’s certainly worth reposting here. With severe, constant lightening and the giant cloud of smoke billowing upward, it looks like Lord of the Rings’ Mordor as I would imagine it.

[vimeo w=500&h=325]

Volcanic Eruption in Grimsvotn, Iceland May 21 2011 from Jon Gustafsson on Vimeo.

Says Jon Gustafsson on his Vimeo page:

It took us 90 minutes to fly to Grímsvötn with a strong wind against us. The eruption looked magnificent in the sunset. Once we landed 5 miles away from the crater the cold glacier air hit us like a truck. We tried to work outside but I only lasted for a couple of minutes. Pilot Reynir Petursson also didn’t want to stay on the ground for too long since it was very windy and the ash fall was unpredictable. The light was also disappearing and he needs visual reference which is difficult on a white glacier […]Getting hit by lightning in that strong wind, extreme frost and next to a live volcano was not desirable. We made it back to Reykjavik at 2am.

For more incredible photos from the eruption, head on over to In Focus – they’ve curated close to 2 dozen from Grímsvötn. You can see them here. Big Picture has also put up their own set of eruption photos, different ones from In Focus and also worth a look.

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Tipping Etiquette, a Sombrero Galaxy & More Travel News

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg. Her views and opinions are hers alone and do not represent Hipmunk. 

A galaxy that looks like a sombrero? Yeah, space has that. This image of the M104 galaxy highlights billions of old stars in its center, causing the diffuse glow of its “hat”:

And speaking of space, yesterday’s Endeavour shuttle launch was a wondrous thing to behold. NASA has posted the video of the launch, which will be Endeavour’s final mission.

When traveling around the world, tipping is always a question asked around the dinner table between travelers. Some countries don’t expect tipping unless you’re at a very high-end restaurant, others not only expect it but would be angry if you didn’t leave a tip before you leave. This handy infographic from lists out the tipping etiquette in a bunch of different countries, from the USA to Argentina to China and more.

Travel + Leisure mag rounds up the best travel gadgets for 2011 so you don’t have to.

In 1909 the great-grandfather of Flickr user Cranewoods travelled to Moscow while accompanying a group of American champion trotting horses on an exhibition tour. Cranewoods has posted a beautiful set of the vintage photos from Russia, which he interited after his great-grandfathers death.

Pretty awesome: the world’s first completely digital sundial, using no electronics or electric power. Check out the post for a detailed explanation of how it works, plus the actual blueprints to build one yourself.

I absolutely loved this Octopus ballet, a high-definition deep-sea filming of one of my favourite animals, the Dumbo octopus. Surreal and graceful, its wing-like ears propel it through the dark depths of the ocean. Lovely.

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And finally, Colombus Ohio had its 2011 Zombie Walk this weekend, and as this video shows they seem to have it under control in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

More to come later this week!

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A Swirling Storm over Florida, Amazing Food from Istanbul and Other Travel News

Earlier in April, NASA invited a group of tweeters to join for the launch of its STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. That launch was delayed until April 29-29, and due to bad weather the shuttle never took off as planned. However, Trey Ratcliff did manage to capture the weather with one of his signature, beautiful photos, as you can see below. For more on the image, see Trey’s Stuck in Customs website.

Trey Ratcliff Photo of Storm over NASA in Florida

Stormy weather over NASA in Florida; Photo by Trey Ratcliff.

National Geographic Adventure just released its “Gear of the Year, Spring 2011” roundup, a compendium of the best for the summer months in lightweight gear like tents and rain jackets, as well as cameras, packs, kayaks and more.

Looking to help those affected by from the recent tornadoes in the South? Good magazine has put together a list of resources, updated frequently.

Incredible grabs from Google streetview, selected by a photographer.  August is peak season to visit Japan’s Mount Fuji, and Matador Network has put together a packing list for your climb, so you don’t have to.

Mount Fuji in Japan; photo by Midorisyu

MSNBC on 10 natural wonders to see before they disappear, including the Dead Sea, The Congo Basin and the Belize Barrier Reef. Some absolutely gorgeous photos accompany Eating Asia’s food tour of Beşiktaş, an off-the-beaten path area of Istanbul, TurkeyTranslucent origami to make my attempts at paper cranes look like a joke. [via] Long, beautiful tale of a recent visit to India’s Trivandrum, where millions of women slowly make their way to the city to show their devotion during the Attukal Pongala Festival. Have any more quirky bathroom signs for Alexis to add to his roundup? Add ‘em in the comments!

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