Great video: Earth flyover from the ISS

November 14, 2011 • 9:58 am

Several readers sent me this: it’s a series of time-lapse photos, made into a video, taken from the International Space Station from August to October of this year.  Kudos to Michael König, who put the video into hi-def format and edited it for smoothness.

Take five minutes and look at our pale blue dot from about 200 miles above. The auroras are fantastic, as are the lightning storms and city lights.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be up there, at least for a couple of days?  And be sure to click through to get this on full screen.

König lists the shooting locations in order of appearance in the video.

1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

From Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy:

I’m so overwhelmed by the beauty and coolness of this video I’m not sure which part I like best! The cities streaming by underneath; the instantly recognizable outlines of familiar places like the Great Lakes or the boot of Italy; the incredible flickering thunderstorms — giving you an understanding that there are always thousands of such storms all over the planet at any one time; the incredible 3D view of the green and red aurorae which you can actually see as towering structures dozens or even hundreds kilometers in height; the stars rising and setting and spinning over the horizon; the reflection of the Moon on the Earth below following along our point of view at 2:50 into the footage; or the thin glowing arc above the horizon:airglow, caused by molecules in the upper atmosphere slowly emitting light as they release energy accumulated during the day.

h/t: Richard vis Diane G., Matthew Cobb

13 thoughts on “Great video: Earth flyover from the ISS

  1. This incredible video transfixed me to the images. This is a “keeper”! Thanks for the list of views. On the USA shots, there is an orange light going across the continent, obviously a national highway. Which one?

    1. “Across” or do you mean the routes that parallel the U.S. West coast from Vancouver right down to Tijuana? Give me the frame time & I’ll tell you. The relevant clips begin around…

      01] 00:14

      02] 00:26

      05] 01:12
      ** [01:15 looking S.W. from Vancouver (bottom left) to SF & LA (centre top on the Horizon)]
      ** [01:17 Sacramento & SF (across bottom of screen) leading up the screen to LA at top. The lights between are mainly the inland communities West of the Sierra Nevada in the fertile valley]

      10] 02:50

      11] 03:06

      16] 04:02

  2. Spectacular: and to think that humans, evolved to be surface dwellers, can appreciate such a view.

    I am looking forward to the day when a live, high-def webcam is installed on the ISS.

  3. These fantastic pictures (thanks Jerry!) are now also featured on
    For those interested in technicalities: Nikon D3S, Nikon zooms 17-35mm and 14-24mm.

    Not competing in beauty with the auroras, but still nice to see for those interested in urban and economic geography, these complementary takes:
    (If you’re insufferably nerdy, you’ll notice that the distribution pattern of urban light densities and intensities corresponds to the empirical pattern of telephone connections distribution modelled by Walter Christaller for Southern Germany in the 1930s. Coastline lights are as expected according to the Krugman model.)

  4. Spectacular stuff!
    added this to my blog ( I found the lightning storms exciting seeing as I’m quite the fan of thunderstorms!
    Thanks for posting this!

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