Aurora australis from space

  • BY Carolyn Barry |
  • October 05, 2011

The aurora australis lights have been captured from a unique angle by the International Space Station.

THE AURORA AUSTRALIS, or Southern Lights, have been captured on video by astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS).

The auroras have mesmerised and fascinated humans for millennia and photographers have sought to capture their ethereal spirit

They are created when the Sun heats up the charged particles - commonly oxygen (green/white/red) and nitrogen (blue/purple) - that are trapped in the Earth's magnetic atmosphere. The atoms are momentarily excited by the burst of energy and as they drop back down to a normal state, they emit some of that energy as light.

On 17 September, says NASA, the ISS flew from Madagascar and past northern Australis, capturing some spectacular aurora australia lights. NASA says that this light show was a result of a coronal mass ejection from the Sun on 14 September, which energised the particles around Earth about 100-400km above the surface.

Australian bushfires seen from space

The ISS also captured bushfires in outback Australia. Some of the smoke plumes, to the right of the image, are visible. The image is also a reminder of just how thin our atmosphere is, with it's faint, green glow highlighting this fragile layer.


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