earth at night from space

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One more from Terry Virts - here flying over the Nile River

105th Anniversary of the First Expedition to the South Pole

The first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole was led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. He and four others arrived at the pole on 14 December 1911, five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott as part of the Terra Nova Expedition.

The Himawari 8 satellite is a Japanese weather satellite placed in stationary orbit around the Earth, looking down on the western Pacific Ocean. It regularly provides absolutely amazing images of this planet. This video captures a sunrise over the Himalayan Mountains and Southeast Asia as seen by the spectral filters on that satellite (visible both before and after sunrise)


NASA’s SOFIA mission, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is literally a telescope stuck in the back of a 747 that flies at altitudes higher than typical commercial jets, above the tropopause (the altitude that clouds usually stop at. That gives them a view of the heavens not typically seen out the windows of planes. This video shakes a bit because it’s a handheld camera, but this is the view they get out the window. Despite a full moon, the Milky Way can be seen, in addition to light pollution below penetrating the clouds from a number of cities. Saturn and Mars can be seen at the upper right as the particularly bright dots, plus a lot of meteors. 

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A nighttime view from the International Space Station down on northern Europe. Impressively cloudless during this shot.

The Black Lands

Ancient Egypt was symbolised in many ways, but three main ones seem reflected in the accompanying photo of the Nile at night taken from the south. The northern part, roughly from the beginning of the delta near the ancient capital of Memphis (close to modern Cairo) was known as Lower Egypt, and traditionally associated with the cobra, whose rearing shape and fan like head has long been seen in the shape of the river. To the south and onwards towards Nubia lay the kingdom of Upper Egypt, symbolised by the vulture, whose long neck and head also seem to emerge from the river’s pattern. Both lands were united by a semi legendary king named Narmer/Menes (see around 3000 BCE.

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This captivating photo was taken by astronaut Barry Wilmore, commander of Expedition 42 and one of six astronauts currently on board the International Space Station (ISS). Through a haze of cloud covering parts of Spain and Africa, we can see the lights of civilisation, smouldering, as if on fire.

We love photos like this here at The Earth Story, as it puts our planet back into perspective. Earth, for the moment, is truly one of a kind and one thing that all of us have in common, is that we share it; our home.


Image courtesy of Barry Wilmore.


Here’s one I haven’t seen before. Perseid meteors viewed from above, from the International Space Station, 2 in about 2 seconds from the high resolution downlooking camera.

Scandinavian Peninsula

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photo of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It’s the largest peninsula in Europe, extending from the Arctic Circle to the Baltic and North Seas. The peninsula has been shaped extensively by Ice Age glaciers, which helped carve many of its fjords and lakes.

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