Out Of This World Exploring The Unknown

Watch the aurora borealis from above the sky

The International Space Station captures the otherworldly famous lights

The best time to see the aurora borealis here on Earth is during the coldest and darkest nights of the year, so people in the Northern Hemisphere still have a few more nights of ideal viewing. However, here on Earth we only get to see half the show. But luckily for us, the folks orbiting 240 miles above us on the International Space Station have been documenting what we’ve been missing. The aurora borealis and its southern sister, the aurora australis, are just as breathtaking from above, and the astronauts get a clear view any time of year. These atmospheric light shows are a product of charged particles interacting with the Earth’s magnetic sphere and are often tied to solar wind or other sun surface activity. Whichever way you look at it, the phenomenon is surreal. Check out this preternatural light show below.

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A southern aurora captured from the¬†International Space Station as it zipped by at 17,239.2 mph. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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This striking aurora ribbon, snapped over the Indian Ocean, was likely caused by a major sun spot event. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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Nighttime Chicago glows in the foreground while the northern lights shine just over the horizon. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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The Aurora Borealis headed a little more south than usual when captured here hovering eerily over the Midwestern U.S. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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Aurora australis¬†captured by the¬†International Space Station crew over New Zealand and the Tasman Sea. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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An aurora dances on the horizon as seen from 240 miles above the Indian Ocean. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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A southern aurora captured from the International Space Station during one of its 15.7 daily spins around the world. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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If the crew missed the aurora australis on this pass they’d have to wait a little more than 92 minutes to complete their orbit and try again. Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.