‘Cities at Night’ as Captured by Astronauts Aboard the International Space Station



Since 2003 astronauts have been snapping up photographs of our beautiful planet from the International Space Station. All of these photographs have been archived together into a resource called The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. It’s through the utilization of this resource, as well as a database compiled by Spanish Astrophysicists that a little project called Cities at Night exists.

Cities at Night is a project that scours through the aforementioned archives, pulling out nighttime close-ups of cities from around the world, plotting them on a map. From New York to Beijing, a plethora of cities have been captured, showing the veins of streets and glow of lights sticking out like a firefly to the astronauts circumnavigating the Earth.

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The unique aspect of these images is that these weren’t digitally captured by some satellite. These were individual photographs taken by fellow humans. For some reason or another a specific city or location stuck out to them and for their own sake, as well as for archival purposes, they snapped an intimate look at a city, from 220 miles above Earth.

Below are just a few examples of the images Cities at Night has to offer.




New York City







To check out more cities and find out what Cities at Night is all about, you can head on over to their website for more information.

(via The Atlantic via The MetaFilter)

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  • Sean Lucky

    Did someone botch these? Seriously, we’ve seen some pretty amazing work come out of the astronauts on the ISS, but these are all blurry…

  • Gannon Burgett

    I was wondering that while looking through them. My guess is that these are cropped photos of the original. Take that into account at the high speeds they’re traveling around the Earth and you have a recipe for some blurry photos.

  • Sean Lucky

    But again, we’ve seen some amazing photography from the ISS. Obviously there’s incredible challenges to photographing the earth from space, but I figured that had that sorted out.

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  • Burnin Biomass

    I’m assuming these images are what the astronaut shot thru a window at earth (hand held, again assumably), and not the official cameras mounted to the outside of the space station.

    The EXIF data on the Sydney one says the exposure was 1/30 and the focal length used was 400. That shot out of a craft traveling 7 or 8 kilometers a second.

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  • Burnin Biomass

    Because they have it doesn’t mean they used it. Might be a pain in the butt to get out and set up. Not all shots from the ISS are pre planned, some are just snaps.