The night skies over Britain will turn a deep shade of crimson this week as the fallout from a Russian volcano blast hits the UK.
Millions of tonnes of dust, ash and sulphur dioxide were thrown up to 30 miles into the air when Sarychev Peak on Matua Island in the Kuril Archipelago erupted last month.
The blast created what experts call a ‘volcanic aerosol’ - a colourful mixture of ash and sulphur compounds - in the stratosphere.
This scatters an invisible blue glow which, when mixed with the red light of the setting sun, produces a ‘volcanic lavender’, or vivid crimson/violet hue.
Shepherd's delight: A particularly fiery red sky over fields in Leicestershire last night after an eruption at Sarychev Peak in Russia unleashed a colourful mixture of ash and sulphur. When this 'volcanic aerosol' in the stratosphere mixes with the red light of the setting sun, it produces a vivid crimson hue
Strong winds blew the soaring plume more than 2,000 miles across the northern hemisphere before its effects were noticed in Britain last Thursday.
The rare phenomenon was caught on camera by photographer Mark Humpage from his garden in Luttleworth, Leicestershire.
Mark, 44, said: ‘This is one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, and I’m looking forward to at least two more in coming days.’
Meteorologists say the sunset spectacle will last for several days, but will only be visible on clear evenings.
It will then continue on its journey across the Atlantic and into the skies above North America.
Blast: The moment on June 12 that a violent volcanic eruption on the island of Matua, in Russia’s Kuril Archipelago, spewed vast amounts of ash into the sky and stopped flight traffic
AEA environmental consultants, which is responsible for measuring air quality in Britain, confirmed the hue was triggered by the volcano.
A spokesman said: ‘Maps from three different satellites show elevated sulphur dioxide in the Arctic region, possible of volcanic origin.
‘With winds veering to the North, it is possible that over coming days this volcanic aerosol could be visible.’
Sarychev Peak is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is part of a chain of volcanic islands that run south from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the western Pacific Ocean.
Commercial flights have been diverted away from the area to minimise the danger of engine failure from ash intake since the eruption on June 12.
Good timing: The International Space Station happened to be passing the Pacific island, between the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan, when the eruption occurred - and was able to photograph the event
During the eruption, the International Space Station passed overhead and astronauts were able to photograph the event.
A hole in the overhead clouds, possibly caused by the shock wave from the explosion, allowed a clear view of the plume and lava flow down the sides of the mountain.
A cap-like mushroom cloud is visible atop the rising column.
Sarychev Peak previously erupted in 1760, 1805, 1879, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1946, 1954, 1960, 1965, 1976, 1986 and 1989.