Science

Astronauts on the International Space Station share images of auroras from some 250 miles above

See auroras from SPACE: Astronauts on the International Space Station share stunning images of ‘Earth’s airglow’ as they orbit at more than 250 miles above the surface

  • Auroras occur when cosmic rays interact with gasses in the upper atmosphere and hang in the horizon
  • Astronauts on the ISS shared images of the event seen from space, while orbiting some 263 miles above
  •  The images  were taken over different areas of Earth including the North Atlantic, Romania and Russia
  • The ship was orbiting some 263 miles above the surface when each image was taken
  • Most of the images show a green ribbon of light hanging over the horizon  and bright city lights below

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The Arctic Circle and areas in the Southern Hemisphere are deemed the best spots to view auroras on Earth, but a team of astronauts found an even better place – outer space.

The Expedition 64 crew currently living on the International Space Station captured a number of stunning images of the natural phenomenon while orbiting more than 250 miles above the surface.

The images were shot over different areas of our planet including the North Atlantic, Romania and Russia, showing the stunning lights hanging over cities, oceans and other land areas.

Auroras, also called ‘Earth’s airglow,’ are caused by cosmic rays interact with gasses in the upper atmosphere, which blankets the horizon with electric colored lights.

NASA describes the event as a ‘spectacular sign that our planet is electrically connected to the sun.’

The Expedition 64 crew currently living on the International Space Station captured a number of stunning images of the natural phenomenon while orbiting more than 250 miles above the surface. One of the images, taken on January 18, was shot while the International Space Station (ISS) was orbiting 264 miles above the North Atlantic (pictured)

The images where shared by astronauts to the officials ‘International Space Station’ Twitter account.

‘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,’ the post reads.

One of the images, taken on January 18, was shot while the International Space Station (ISS) was orbiting 264 miles above the North Atlantic.

The picture shows the dark sea below with a ribbon of green light swathing above along the horizon.

Auroras, also called ‘Earth’s airglow,’ are caused by cosmic rays interact with gasses in the upper atmosphere, which blankets the horizon with electric colored lights. This picture was taken while the ISS was over Romania. The crew capture the auroras hanging over Sweden and Finland

Auroras, also called ‘Earth’s airglow,’ are caused by cosmic rays interact with gasses in the upper atmosphere, which blankets the horizon with electric colored lights. This picture was taken while the ISS was over Romania. The crew capture the auroras hanging over Sweden and Finland

On January 13, Expedition crew 46 shared an image while soaring above Kazakhstan in Russia, which captured the city’s bright lights at night and above was a curved beam of green aurora

On January 13, Expedition crew 46 shared an image while soaring above Kazakhstan in Russia, which captured the city’s bright lights at night and above was a curved beam of green aurora

On the same day, the ISS moved over Romania to snap another breath taking view.

‘The International Space Station was orbiting 263 miles above Romania when this photograph was taken of the city lights of Sweden and Finland with an aurora above the Earth’s horizon,’ reads the picture’s caption.

‘The dark area in between the two Scandinavian nations is the Baltic Sea.’

Auroras have also been called ‘polar lights’ because they are rarely visible outside 70 degrees north and south latitudes.

Auroras have also been called ‘polar lights’ because they are rarely visible outside 70 degrees north and south latitudes. Pictured is another image taken 264 miles above Kazakhstan

Auroras have also been called ‘polar lights’ because they are rarely visible outside 70 degrees north and south latitudes. Pictured is another image taken 264 miles above Kazakhstan 

However, one of the best images was taken January 7 that shows the 74 resupply ship hanging in the darkness that is space and down below are the puffy white clouds in our atmosphere. And in the distance, the aurora australis can be shinning from the horizon

However, one of the best images was taken January 7 that shows the 74 resupply ship hanging in the darkness that is space and down below are the puffy white clouds in our atmosphere. And in the distance, the aurora australis can be shinning from the horizon

The stunning show occurs when energetic particles come speeding out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

It can take two to three days for the particles to reach Earth, but when they due, the solar particles and magnetic fields cause the release of particles already trapped near Earth, which in turn trigger reactions in the upper atmosphere in which oxygen and nitrogen molecules release photons of light.

And this results in the Northern and Southern lights.

On January 13, Expedition crew 46 shared an image while soaring above Kazakhstan in Russia, which captured the city’s bright lights at night and above was a curved beam of green auroras.

However, one of the best images was taken January 7 that shows the 74 resupply ship hanging in the darkness that is space and down below are the puffy white clouds in our atmosphere.

And in the distance, the aurora australis can be shinning from the horizon.

WHAT ARE AURORAS AND WHAT TRIGGERS THE STUNNING NATURAL DISPLAYS?

The Northern and Southern Lights are natural light spectacles triggered in our atmosphere that are also known as the ‘Auroras’.

There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’

The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. 

There are two types of Aurora - Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means 'dawn of the north', and Aurora Australis, 'dawn of the south.' The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’ The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

Usually the particles, sometimes referred to as a solar storm, are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

But during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.

These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are common.

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