Aurora from Above

Aurora borealis (photo from Wikimedia Commons, originally taken by Marcelo Quinan on Flickr CC)

3 January 2024

As I mentioned last month, though winter is the best time of year to see the aurora borealis it is rare if not impossible to see it anywhere but in the far north. The photo at top was taken in Norway while the one below gives a different perspective from an airplane at 36,000 feet above Canada.

Aurora Borealis as seen from an airplace 36,000 ft above Canada, 22 January 2004 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In both cases the photos were taken inside our atmosphere below the aurora. What if you could see the aurora from above?

On 21 January 2016 NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took photos of the aurora from the International Space Station (ISS) as it traveled over Canada. Here’s what the aurora looks like from above in his series of photos.

Aurora borealis over Canada, seen from ISS on 21 Jan 2016 (photos from Wikimedia Commons)

The ISS also saw the aurora australis, the southern lights near the South Pole, in July 2012.

Aurora australis from ISS, 15 July 2012 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Want to know if there will be an aurora soon and where it will show up? Check here for NOAA’s Aurora Viewline predition for tonight and tomorrow.

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