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Feburuary 2011

February 8, 2011
    Since the beginning of the new year, it hasn't rained even once. For about 40 days to yesterday, clear weather has continued, although there were some extremely cold days, too. Kochi prefecture reportedly hasn't experienced this sort of record-breaking weather for well over 100 years. With so many fine days, you may think we could observe a lot, but it hasn't turned out that way. The atmosphere appears yellowish because of the horrific yellow sand dust. On certain days the distant mountains are not visible and even the nearest landscape is hazy. This is not the ordinary yellow sand flying over from China. It is probably caused by the eruptions of recently very active Shinmoedake volcano in Kyushu. A past record shows that volcanic ashes had fallen at Sukumo, the western tip of Kochi prefecture, but this time it happened to Kochi city, much further east. The dust is so fine that you cannot see it, but it thinly covers the roof of a car. Everything around us appears yellowish because of the thick yellow ash.
    I remember a similar event of the past. It was some 20 years ago. The American forces stationed in the Philippines were forced to retreat by huge eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo. Around that time, a leading Australian comet hunter Bradfield discovered a comet in an early morning sky, but we could not observe it from Geisei because the southern sky was affected by dust haze. The ash clouds rose as high as the stratosphere and floated there for some time. As a result of this air pollution, astronomical observation around the world was interrupted.
    The photograph shows a view to the south seen from our upstairs window. It was taken on the afternoon of February 7. Clear skies that are normally bright look as dark as evening twilight. @
    The sky over Kochi looks like an evening twilight due to the yellow sand dust.

Photographed on the afternoon of February 7, 2011

Copyright (C) 2011 Tsutomu Seki.