Twenty-three seconds is not much in the life of a volcano that’s been steadily erupting for 33 years. But when those 23 seconds are captured by a high-definition camera aboard the International Space Station, they matter a lot—if only because they can give the 7.1 billion of us who will never go into space a perspective on the planet that the few who do leave it get to see all the time.
In this case, that perspective is provided by a camera placed aboard the station by Urthecast, a Canadian company that makes planetary images available to businesses, developers and just plain gawkers. The video shows smoke and steam rising from the eastern flank of the Napau Crater on Hawaii’s Mt. Kilauea, which began erupting on January 3, 1983, and has continued, over the course of 60 different phases of eruption through a series of different vents, ever since.
There’s no telling when Kilauea will quiet down. But thanks to the space station, this brief moment in the eruption’s long life is the one we will all know the best.