NASA has released a breathtaking time-lapse video showing a recent aurora over Earth.
The footage was captured by a camera on the International Space Station (ISS), which orbits our planet at an altitude of around 250 miles. Besides the Earth and the gorgeous green aurora, it also shows several of the station’s solar panels moving slowly to capture the sun’s rays.
Auroras are the result of charged particles ejected by the sun colliding with Earth’s upper atmosphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the phenomenon is known as the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), while in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s known as the Southern Lights (aurora australis).
The sun has been particularly active just recently, creating strong solar winds that have increased the intensity of the aurora as well as the distance over which they can be viewed (for those on terra firma).
Astronauts on the orbital laboratory are often treated to spectacular views of this natural phenomenon, but the video above is one of the most impressive that NASA has shared in a while.
A recent tweet posted by current ISS inhabitant Josh Cassada appears to show an image capture from the video, with the astronaut describing the scene as “absolutely unreal.”
Besides working on science experiments aboard the station and performing occasional spacewalks for upgrade and maintenance work, ISS astronauts always make time to visit the Cupola, a seven-window module that offers the best views of Earth as well as the natural light shows that sometimes take place. The Cupola was the place from where recent ISS visitor Thomas Pesquet captured some of his incredible Earth images, though the best shots took quite a bit of preparation work.