Watch auroras paint the sky above Earth in these stunning astronaut photos and video
It’s aurora season on the International Space Station and astronauts living and working in orbit are sharing some of their finest views of the stunning phenomenon with those of us on the ground.
Auroras paint the sky with eerie shades of greens and reds and occur when charged particles from the sun slam into Earth’s atmosphere. Circling the North Pole, the spectacle is dubbed the aurora borealis or northern lights; the southern equivalent is the aurora australis. The latter has been particularly prolific for the past week or so, according to European Space Station astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who has been sharing photos and video of the auroral displays.
“These last few days have been auroraspectacular!,” Pesquet wrote in a tweet posted on Saturday (Aug. 7). “What a show nature put on for us.”
And then today: “An aurora a day keeps the boredom away” Pesquet wrote of his latest stunning photo.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured a view of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the space station’s new Russian Nauka science module against a backdrop of glowing aurora on Aug. 3, 2021. (Image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet)
A view of the aurora australis and the space station’s solar arrays captured on Aug. 2, 2021, above the southern Indian Ocean. (Image credit: NASA)
A view of the aurora australis over the southern Indian Ocean on Aug. 2, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough captured a view of the aurora against a starry sky, highlighting the constellation Orion, that he shared on Aug. 9, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)
A view of the aurora australis over the southern Indian Ocean as seen on Aug. 2, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)
While Pesquet has been most prolific at sharing his front-row view of the atmospheric display, he has company in his skygazing. NASA colleague Shane Kimbrough shared two views as well in a Twitter post on Monday (Aug. 9).
“Magical aurora sightings this weekend from @Space_Station,” he wrote. “The white dots on the bottom half of the pic are stars — millions of them! Can you pick out the Orion constellation in the 1st photo?”
Votre livraison quotidienne d’aurore australe est arrivée ! 🤩 Plus de photos sur Instagram : https://t.co/5f688jO8YQ.An Aurora a day… keeps the boredom away? 😉😀 More pictures on Instagram: https://t.co/5f688jO8YQ#MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/Jq1Ushs1tBAugust 11, 2021
Magical aurora sightings this weekend from @Space_Station. The white dots on the bottom half of the pic are stars – millions of them! Can you pick out the Orion constellation in the 1st photo? #iss #orion #artemis #aurora #nasa pic.twitter.com/HWUCNkJLmEAugust 9, 2021
The aurora australis is spectacular in these views from the station above the Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica. https://t.co/gzNPCRRjUN pic.twitter.com/VFXye26yWsAugust 5, 2021
The space station’s own Twitter account got in on the action as well, sharing four different views of the aurora australis over the Indian Ocean on Aug. 4, although the post does not specify which astronaut snagged the photographs.
Email Meghan Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.