Astronauts on the space station saw this beauty. NASA
There’s a disturbance in the atmosphere and it’s gorgeous. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took a moment out of his year-long mission aboard the International Space Station to share this image of an aurora lighting up the Earth’s horizon.
Astronauts have photographed auroras from orbit before, but this is a particularly nice image due to the striking layers showing the Earth, aurora glow, star field and the outside of the station looking like fingertips across the bottom.
Kelly took the photo on August 15 and NASA released it as an Image of the Day on Tuesday.
Auroras seen from space mystify and amaze…
NASA offers up a science-y explanation for auroras: “The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.”
In short, solar disturbances can make for fancy light shows on Earth.
Kelly is very active on social media, constantly feeding fresh images from the station to his Twitter followers. He has taken other aurora photos, including one showing a good chunk of the space station along with lights on Earth and a thin line of aurora glowing along the horizon.
No matter your perspective, whether from Earth or up in space, an aurora is a dazzling phenomenon.