The International Space Station’s current Expedition 64 crew has recently shared a few gorgeous photos of Earth’s auroras. The stunning natural colors are thanks to the station’s orbit that takes it as high as 51.6 degrees above the equator.
As explained by Digital Trends, auroras appear when particles from solar storms interact with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. The best places to view auroras on earth are as close to the Arctic Circle as you can get in the Northern Hemisphere, and the far south of Tasmania and New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere.
The station's orbit takes it as high 51.6° above the equator offering awe-inspiring views of the Earth's aurora in between the city lights and the twinkling stars. https://t.co/gzNPCS8UMl pic.twitter.com/JEAwJI0LEX
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) January 23, 2021
But from space, moving your orbit into position can reveal the natural phenomenon. Below are the images recently shared to NASA’s Flickr account:
The above image was captured on January 18 as the International Space Station was orbiting 264 miles above the North Atlantic. “The Earth’s airglow, an optical phenomenon caused by cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere, blankets the horizon,” the caption reads.
This photo, also captured on January 18, was taken as the ISS was in orbit 263 miles above Romania. The city lights of Sweden and Finland are visible below the aurora above the Earth’s horizon. The dark area in between the two Scandinavian nations is the Baltic Sea.
The two photos above were taken on January 13 from 264 miles above Kazakhstan and looks north towards Russia where the brightly-lit cities can be seen below the aurora.
Captured on January 12, these final two photos were both taken over Russia. The first image shows a look between Ukraine and Kazakhstan, while the second is closer to the western border of Kazakhstan.
All the images above were captured on a Nikon D5 with either a 58mm or 85mm lens.
This recently published documentary on NASA’s YouTube channel shows more auroras captured from the space station along with several other stories of what it is like to look down on Earth from above.
(via Digital Trends)