For years, we have been mesmerised by southern lights in photos and videos. But how do they look from above the Earth’s atmosphere? No need to tire yourself by imagining. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is giving us a unique sighting of the southern lights (also called aurora australis) from the International Space Station (ISS) that is orbiting the planet. A time-lapse video shows a vast expanse of green light shimmering over the Earth’s surface. Mr Pesquet captioned the photo, “Daytime aurora australis”, and added, “Clouds compete for attention in this aurora timelapse over a blue ocean.”
In the video, we see the space station travel over the lit-up side of the planet towards the dark side of the Earth. At first, we come across a thick blanket of clouds spread over an ocean. As the spacecraft moves, the camera is almost overhead the green lights.
Southern lights are caused when the Sun releases a massive gust of solar wind. When particles carried by the solar winds interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, they collide to produce energy, which releases in the form of auroras.
Explanations cannot make these stunning light patterns any less interesting. The response to Mr Pesquet’s video proves it. The video has received 1.13 lakh views within 15 hours of being posted.
Many users have called the sighting “magical.” A lot of users have thanked Mr Pesquet for the video. A user wrote, “Amazing… Thanks for sharing this with us “
A user wrote in French, “Downright magical… what splendour!” Another called it “Magnifique,” which means magnificent.
Many users commented with green heart emojis, perhaps to match with the hue of the lights.
Mr Pesquet is currently onboard a project by the European Space Agency (ESA). Last month, ESA shared a set of photos of the aurora lights. These were also captured by Mr Pesquet.
It seems our fascination with dreamy northern lights can never end.