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Climate Hustle

Incredible time-lapse video of Earth from space

Posted on 15 November 2011 by John Cook

This new YouTube video features amazing time-lapse footage of the Earth from the International Space Station, shot in August and October this year:

The shooting locations given by NASA, in order of appearance, are:

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 south-west of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. North-west 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 Southeast Asia at night

H/T to Chris McGrath and ABC.

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Comments 1 to 17:

  1. Really good.
    Are the lights of the cities enhanced??
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  2. Beautiful.
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  3. How about a yellowish glare over the athmosfere ever-present on all images, even without auroras? I guess itr could be the mesopause, as auroras seem to apear above it and ISS flies at some 350km.

    So is this yellowish a "true colour" of mesopause or some artificial enhancement? Perhaps it is an enhancement, maybe an invisible spectrum, pickedup by hisense camera. With that in mind, brighter/broader lights might be a result of the same.
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  4. The youtube blurb states they used a low light camera and did some processing on images.
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  5. We sure use a lot of energy lighting up space don’t we?

    Fantastic clip, thank you John.
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  6. Hmmmm ....

    Atmosphere, mighty skimpy. Better take care of it. Looks like a long way to other dots up there ...
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  7. This fantastic video shows just how much of our energy we are wasting! All the pretty lights, especially noticable in places like California, are just what astronomers call light polution. Think of how much energy AND money could be saved if we only lit up things to the extent we actually need!
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  8. There's quite a few more of these kinds of time-lapse movies from the ISS at a NASA page here. Lovely!
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  9. Are there alternatives to street lights and parking lots lights for safety? (assuming that most of that light is bouncing off the ground)
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  10. Eric(skeptic): no, most of that light is coming directly from the lights themselves - comparatively little bounces off the ground, especially roads & parking lots that are (usually) almost-black asphalt.

    Different light fittings, that direct the light a bit better, can actually result in higher illumination levels on the ground, while also significantly reducing the amount of light going upwards.

    The same applies to many buildings & dwellings - many, many light fittings are very poorly designed, and actually result in most of the emitted light not ending up where it's needed. But they're oh-so-fashionable... (I was astounded, in the time I lived in the US, to find a room in my apartment with no less than three 200-watt light globes, which nevertheless appeared dimly lit to my eyes, compared to what I achieve with a single 60w globe here in Australia)
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  11. #9 Eric, you might find a lot of information at the International Dark Sky Association. They specifically do not advocate against lighting for safety. Most of the light you see in images like the ones above come directly from the lighting source. That is, it is light from fixtures designed to light the ground (the street, parking lot, whatever), but that have a significant proportion of their energy uselessly pointing sideways or upwards. You can effectively put a lower wattage bulb in each light if you have a simple shield to prevent light being wasted upwards, and that shield reflects the extra light downwards to where it is wanted, not sideways or upwards. The IDA suggest that 8% of US energy use is in outdoor lighting, so the saving may be measurable in numbers of power stations. Obviously as an astronomer that would have really good consequences, but the saving in energy is also considerable, with no loss in safety.
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  12. Bern and skywatcher, thanks for the info (skywatcher now I know where your name comes from). I am lucky enough to live in a dark county in Virginia. Another question, looking the time lapse there seemed to brightness at an angle (although lights got brighter as they got closer). Are we seeing lights from windows at that angle? I suppose it could also be a fish eye lens effect and we are mostly looking straight down.
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  13. Not sure about your other question Eric, though angles from an orbiting satellite can be deceptive - you're seeing a relatively tiny fraction of the Earth's surface, but the eye is fooled by the circular horizon into thinking you're seeing a whole hemisphere. My guess is that it is not windows (the orange colour is often telltale of low pressure sodium and its twin bright orange emission lines), and that it is an effect of looking hundreds of miles sideways through the atmosphere? The camera view doesn't otherwise look very 'fisheye' to me too.
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  14. gorgeous ... Auroras, Lightnings ... I am impressed

    well made
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  15. This video just made Astronomy Picture of the Day for 21st November. APOD's a good place to be stunned by great astonomy images and waste large chunks of your day!
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  16. @chriskoz #3,

    You're seeing 'airglow'.
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  17. Skywatcher, you are probably correct about the orange glow being the sodium vapor lights.
    I figured I would pop this related question here (but not expecting an answer). My county requires sodium vapor lights (high or low pressure) for commercial sites due to our dark sky ordinance. I can only find 120 volt AC ballasts for HPS or LPS lights. Various Chinese companies have nice electronic (digital) 12/24 volt DC ballasts specifically for solar streetlights and similar uses. It doesn't make sense to use two inverters (from 12 DC to 120 AC and then from 120 AC to the various HPS/LPS voltages). I need around 35 Watts, and a couple of units.
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