Skip to main content

Astronaut snaps ‘spectacular’ aurora from the space station

An aurora as seen from the space station.

Besides working on a slew of science experiments in microgravity conditions, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) can also take time out to fully appreciate their enviable location some 250 miles above Earth.

During breaks, some ISS inhabitants make a beeline for the Cupola, the seven-window observatory that offers the best spot for taking in the stunning views of Earth. Indeed, it’s from there that recent visitor and photographer extraordinaire Thomas Pesquet captured many of his incredible images of our planet.

Following in Pesquet’s footsteps, NASA astronauts Bob Hines this week snapped some truly amazing images of a distant aurora.

“Absolutely SPECTACULAR aurora today!!!” tweeted Hines, who arrived at the ISS as part of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission in April. “Thankful for the recent solar activity resulting in these wonderful sights!”

Absolutely SPECTACULAR aurora today!!! Thankful for the recent solar activity resulting in these wonderful sights!

— Bob “Farmer” Hines (@Astro_FarmerBob) August 18, 2022

Auroras occur when particles from incoming solar storms strike gases in Earth’s atmosphere, with the collision often resulting in these gorgeous displays above Earth’s surface.

While astronauts aboard the space station do indeed have a privileged view of the phenomenon, the natural wonder can also be witnessed from the ground, with the best vantage points in places in the far north like Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. On the other side of the planet, in the far south, places like Tasmania and New Zealand offer the best view of an aurora.

Tweeting from terra firma, retired NASA astronaut Mike Fossum praised Hines for his series of shots, describing them as “awesome.”

Responding to Fossum, Hines revealed that the images are part of a set that a NASA team on the ground will use to create what promises to be a visually stunning time-lapse.

Hines has been sharing insights about his mission since reaching the space station four months ago. In May, he gave his Twitter followers a brief tour of Boeing’s Starliner capsule after it docked at the ISS during a key test flight.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Check out this gorgeous space station design from Airbus
Airbus's concept design for the LOOP space station.

Airbus has unveiled a concept design for a gorgeous-looking space station that it says could one day orbit Earth or another planet far away.


Read more
A spacecraft at the ISS is about to take a very short trip
The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft is seen approaching the Poisk module of the space station prior to docking at 7:58 p.m. EST as the space station was flying 260 miles above northern Mongolia.

Three astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) are about to take a very short ride aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

In a maneuver designed to make room for the arrival of the Roscosmos Progress 84 cargo spacecraft later this year, astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, will this week hop aboard the Soyuz MS-23 capsule and pilot it from the Poisk module on the space-facing side of the complex to the Prichal module on the Earth-facing side of the outpost.

Read more
NASA and Boeing reveal new date for first crewed Starliner flight
A graphic rendering of the Boeing Starliner orbiting Earth.

NASA and Boeing had been hoping to perform the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft next month, but on Wednesday they announced the mission will now take place no earlier than Friday, July 21.

“While the Starliner spacecraft build is complete, additional time is needed to close out verification and validation work prior to the system’s first flight with crew on board,” Boeing said in a statement posted on its website.

Read more