Space enthusiasts are often captivated by the incredible images of our universe, captured routinely by space agency NASA. Most recently, NASA shared a breathtaking picture on Instagram. The image was taken from the International Space Station, displaying the Earth’s airglow outlining the planet’s horizon with the Moon above. This stunning visual was captured on November 14, 2023, as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles (418 km) above the midwestern United States.
Describing this remarkable image, NASA explained, ”A view of Earth from the space station during orbital night. The Moon is above earth nearly centered above the surface. An airglow outlines the atmosphere above the Earth’s surface in a yellow shade. Lights from cities dot Earth’s surface – among them, a concentration of lights near the horizon identifies the city of Chicago, while the concentration of lights closer to the bottom left identifies Denver.”
See the image here:
According to NASA, Airglow happens when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, excited by sunlight, emit light to release their excess energy. They further explained that although they may appear similar, aurora and airglow are formed using different processes. Auroras are driven by high-energy particles originating from the solar wind, while airglow is sparked by day-to-day solar radiation.
”Studying airflow gives us a peek into the upper atmosphere’s temperature, density, and composition, but it also helps us trace how particles move through the region itself. Vast, high-altitude winds sweep through the ionosphere, pushing its contents around the globe — and airglow’s subtle dance follows their lead, highlighting global patterns,” NASA wrote.
Since its posting two days ago, the image has gained more than 780,000 likes and several comments from users. While some users expressed amazement and admiration for the image, others simply found it beautiful. One person even said, ”It feels like being at a movie.”
Another commented, ”This photo is so beautiful.”
A few days back, NASA also shared an incredible picture of an aurora captured from the International Space Station. According to the caption, the dazzling green aurora swept through the skies above Utah, US, on Sunday night, creating a brilliant halo above our planet.