the airglow


Airglow waves. Do you you think our night sky is pitch black ? Have a look at this timelapse video. I captured it at Carnegie Las Campamas observatory. Those red waves are not clouds (!) - this is pretty intense airglow, which takes place in upper atmosphere. It’s very interesting to see how the waves move. While camera pans you will notice on the foreground both 6.5-m Magellan telescopes, as well as nicely setting Milky Way. I hope you’ll enjoy the view ! :) Music: “Airglow” by © Club 220

Black Marble: NASA View Illuminates Earth at Night

When the sun goes down, the lights on Earth shine bright. A new look using our satellite data captures the lights coming from our neighborhoods, vehicles, buildings, factories, fishing vessels and other human activity brightening the night.

Our scientists have just released the first new global map of Earth at night since 2012. This nighttime view of our home planet, dubbed the Black Marble, provides researchers with a unique perspective of human activities around the globe.

By studying Earth at night, researchers can investigate how and why cities expand, monitor light intensity to estimate energy use and economic activity, and aid in disaster response in near-real time.

The data on Earth at night comes from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, jointly managed by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

VIIRS captures visible and infrared light, allowing researchers to glimpse the Earth as it looks to astronauts peering out of the International Space Station. The new map is a composite of data collected in 2016, and it took several months of processing to filter out clouds, moonlight, airglow, and other interfering features to create the global image. In the coming months our scientists will release daily nighttime lights data at even finer resolutions for the first time.

The East Coast sparkles with population hubs, suburbs circling cities and major roadways. The I-95 corridor includes the most densely populated region of the United States – the stretch from Washington, DC to Boston.

To get images like these from the satellite data, our scientists had to filter out moonlight, aerosols and other sources of extraneous light – the goal is to eventually be able to detect the lights from a single building or fishing boat.

Daytime satellite images, like this one from Landsat 8, can show us the forests, deserts, mountains, waterways and built-up cities. Add a nighttime view, and scientists can study when and how people are using these limited resources – like the lights tracing the Nile River leading to the metropolis of Cairo, Egypt.

Lights aren’t confined to land. With the global nighttime view, the ocean is dotted with fishing fleets, including boats that try to attract their catch with bright lights.

What lights illuminate your neighborhood? Download a high-resolution version of the Black Marble HERE, and find out more about our new night lights data HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:


the view from the international space station, some 250 kilometres above earth. travelling at nearly 2900 kilometres an hour, it orbits the earth every ninety minutes. consider that if the earth was the size of a basketball, our atmosphere would be as thick as a sheet of paper. the reds and greens you see illuminating our atmosphere is the result of airglow (though in some of these it’s also the aurora). for more on airglow, see this post.


Twinkle twinkle by Mia Stålnacke


Astronaut Thomas Pesquet shared this video of a thunderstorm over central California taken as the International Space Station flies along the coastline. Watch for the light bursts of satellites after the storm passes - next video will show you where they are if you miss them.


Airglow above European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Here are gorgeous fulldome views above different telescopes of ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. The red and green hues are produced by airglow, waves of alternating air pressure which are caused by various processes in the upper atmosphere. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are also visible while Milky Way cuts across the sky.

Credit: P. Horálek/ESO


yuribeletsky Airglow ocean. Majestic view at the colors of the night above Pacific ocean and Atacama desert in Chile. Have a look at this timelapse video. I captured it at Carnegie Las Campamas observatory. The red airglow waves totally dominated the night sky and you can see how they change over the period of few hours. It’s quite remarkable ! Have you seen anything like that ? I hope you’ll enjoy the view ! Music by © Czarek Zieliński. 

Galaxies from the Altiplano : The central bulge of our Milky Way Galaxy rises over the northern Chilean Atacama altiplano in this postcard from planet Earth. At an altitude of 4500 meters, the strange beauty of the desolate landscape could almost belong to another world though. Brownish red and yellow tinted sulfuric patches lie along the whitish salt flat beaches of the Salar de Aguas Calientes region. In the distance along the Argentina border is the stratovolcano Lastarria, its peak at 5700 meters . In the clear, dark sky above, stars, nebulae, and cosmic dust clouds in the Milky Way echo the colors of the altiplano at night. Extending the view across extragalactic space, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, shine near the horizon through a faint greenish airglow. via NASA


Astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this video of the Aurora Borealis outlining the upper atmosphere from the International Space Station.

Milky Way over Uluru : The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australias most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Ways own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxys faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night. via NASA


Galaxy Over the Dome by Neil Creek
Via Flickr:
A 380 megapixel panorama of the Milky Way Galaxy rising over the dome at Mount Burnett Observatory. I was there late one night recently, shooting the stars, when my telescope battery died. So I thought I’d try and capture an image I’ve had in my head for a while. This took me all day to process!

Airglow ripples over Tibet

Why would the sky look like a giant target? Airglow. Following a giant thunderstorm over Bangladesh in late April, giant circular ripples of glowing air appeared over Tibet, China, as pictured above. The unusual pattern is created by atmospheric gravity waves, waves of alternating air pressure that can grow with height as the air thins, in this case about 90 kilometers up. Unlike auroras powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction. More typically seen near the horizon, airglow keeps the night sky from ever being completely dark.

Image credit & copyright: Jeff Dai