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See The Light!
A bright light event on Mount St. Helens captured by the VolcanoCam.  This is an annotated image.

The Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam unexpectedly captured a bright light on the west flank of the volcano on two successive evenings, May 03-04, and again on May 04-05, 2005.

The above image is an annotated composite image. It was created by veteran VolcanoCam watcher Darryl Luscombe of Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. Darryl creates nighttime movies from the VolcanoCam images so we can see the nightly glow from the incandesence of hot lava from the new dome. Darryl was kind enough to show us how to make nighttime movies back in October, 2004, which are available in our Movies Archive.

From the first night's observations we determined the bright light was probably caused by a pixel glitch within the VolcanoCam itself. (The USGS and the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network confirm the bright light is not caused by volcanic activity.)

Whether this glitch is only temporary, intermittent or permanent remains to be seen. We do not know if this glitch will increase over time so as to crash the camera.

Luscombe Flash Movie - See The Light!

Darryl is kind enough to allow us to display his Flash movie created from images from the VolcanoCam during the evening of May 04-05, 2005. This is a special composite movie that superimposes a visible image of the volcano within the movie.

Darryl did not initially see the bright light when he first created the movie, as he does quite regularly. However, upon notifying him of the event and at our request, Darryl went back and created an entirely new movie after reprocessing the original images. That is the movie we posted here.

According to Darryl, "The shots from the webcam at night show a lot of noise, as its not really designed for low light operation. In fact, it is difficult to see much more than the glow and sometimes the hint of a steam plume on the images. However, using image processing software to reduce the noise and adjust the levels, it is possible to bring out some of the details of the glowing steam plume and even the mountain itself.

"By combining a number of the images into an animated sequence it is much easier to pick out the details and get a sense of the steam/ash plume(s) rising from the crater during the night. The [above] movie was produced using approximately 100 frames from the volcanocam taken [at] night. Each was processed using Neat Image (to reduce the noise), converted to a grayscale image and levels adjusted before being assembled into the final movie."

Because it is very difficult to actually see the volcano at night from the VolcanoCam (even during a full moon and clear skies), Darryl superimposed a daytime view of Mount St. Helens into the movie sequence for reference.

We offer special thanks to Darryl Luscombe of Vancouver, British Columbia Canada for his personal support to the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam.