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Thread: Did Pinatubo affect astronomical observation?

  1. #1
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    Did Pinatubo affect astronomical observation?

    Did the dimming of the sky caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 lead to any noticeable effect on astronomical observation by cutting the amount of light received by telescopes?
    Last edited by Robert Tulip; 2019-Apr-08 at 03:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    It was certainly measurable as a (pretty much global) change in the extinction properties of the atmosphere, adding (IIRC) an important "grey" aerosol contribution to the usual reddening (one study). From New Zealand, once the particulates reached them (after about 80 days), the extinction in the V-band around 550 nm increased from 0.13 to 0.21 magnitude/airmass (similar to other temperature sites both north and south - reference).A similar change was observed for the eruption of El Chichon. These analyses suggest that the settling time for all measurable extinction effects of these eruptions can be decades.

  3. #3
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    You can see the increase in extinction the U, B, and V passbands very clearly in this figure

    http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/t2...&filetype=.gif

    from the paper by Burki et al., Astronomy and Astrophysics, 112, p. 383 (1995). You can read the entire article at

    http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/f...6AS..112..383B

    There are a number of other papers by observers at other locations which confirm these results.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    settling time for all measurable extinction effects of these eruptions can be decades.
    Thank you very much ngc3314 and StupendousMan. Would this "decades" settling time involve almost all of the aerosol settling within a few years and only a very small persistent residue?

  5. #5
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    Look at the figures in the references I provided. If the figures show that the extinction remained at an elevated level for decades, then the aerosols are still present for decades. If extinction decreases significantly in a year, then the aerosols decrease significantly in a year.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by StupendousMan View Post
    Look at the figures in the references I provided. If the figures show that the extinction remained at an elevated level for decades, then the aerosols are still present for decades. If extinction decreases significantly in a year, then the aerosols decrease significantly in a year.
    Okay, Figure 5 shows rapid extinction.

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