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Astronaut Spies Mount Etna Eruption from Space

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg snapped a picture of ash billowing from Mount Etna on Oct. 26, 2013. (Image credit: Karen L. Nyberg (via Twitter as @AstroKarenN ))

Mount Etna's latest burst of volcanic activity can be seen from space.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg spied a plume of ash from the volcano trailing over Sicily from her post aboard the International Space Station on Saturday (Oct. 26).

She posted a photo of the phenomenon on Twitter, writing: "Our view of Mount Etna erupting. October 26."

At 10,900 feet (3,329 meters), Italy's Mount Etna is Europe's tallest volcano and one of the world's most active. Though it is almost continuously spewing gas or lava, the last major eruption at Mount Etna was in 1992.

Mount Etna's latest spurt of activity over the weekend sent a bright stream of lava shooting into the air, while ash clouds could be seen across much of eastern Sicily, according to the BBC. The haze forced the nearest airport and airspace to close temporarily, but none of the mountain towns that surround the volatile peak had to be evacuated, the BBC reported.

Earlier this year, Nyberg's Canadian colleague, astronaut Chris Hadfield, snapped a picture of ash spewing from Mount Etna while he was on board the space station after one of the volcano's paroxysms (short, violent bursts of activity).

The International Space Station hovers around 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Earth, completing a full orbit of the planet every 90 minutes. Astronauts living inside the outpost often share their unique view of ephemeral events on the ground, from hurricanes and wildfires to northern lights and lightning storms. 

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.