‘Earth at Night’: Amazing photos from NASA

Green aurora stretched over Earth as seen from space (NASA)
This image over Europe detailing clouds and the aurora borealis was taken from the International Space Station by NASA astronaut Terry Virts. (NASA)

Nighttime photographs from NASA show how humans and natural phenomena light up the darkness, and how and why scientists have observed Earth’s night lights for more than four decades, the space agency said.

“NASA’s spacefaring satellites have compiled an unprecedented record of our Earth, and its luminescence in darkness,” Thomas H. Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator, writes in the foreword of NASA’s latest e-book, Earth at Night.

Image from space of brightly lit city (International Space Station)
An image of Cairo taken from space also shows a twinkle of lights outlining the Nile River. (International Space Station)

Illumination can indicate how prosperous a region is. Images also reveal natural light sources, such as volcanoes and wildfires. Even fishing boats off the coast of Indonesia are seen from space.

Two galaxies (NASA, ESA, M. Mutchler/STScI)
An image from the “Hubble Focus” e-book series shows two spiral galaxies, one viewed from the side and the other facing the telescope, fully capturing the spiral. (NASA, ESA, M. Mutchler/STScI)

Earth at Night is one of a library of NASA e-books about the science and beauty of space exploration, downloadable in e-book or PDF format.