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Earth from Space – Italy at night

ISS image of Italy at night

Italy and Sicily are outlined by city lights in this photo taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. A solar power panel belonging to a docked Russian spacecraft can be seen at right.

LOOKING DOWN FROM AN ALTITUDE of around 380 kilometres, the Expedition 28 aboard the International Space Station caught this sight of Italy at night.

At night, Earth’s surface is covered with a delicate tracery of lights, particularly in regions that have a long history of urban development (such as Europe). Large urban areas are recognisable from orbit due to extensive electric lighting and distinct street patterns. With smaller urban areas spread across the land surface and coastlines, the outlines of continental landmasses are easily discernable at night.

This astronaut photograph highlights the night-time appearance of the southern Italian Peninsula. The toe and heel of Italy’s “boot” are clearly defined by the lights of large cities such as Naples, Bari, and Brindisi, as well as numerous smaller cities and towns.

The bordering Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian Seas appear as dark regions to the east, west, and south. The city lights of Palermo and Catania, Sicily, are also visible.

The International Space Station (ISS) was located over an area of Romania, close to the capital city of Bucharest (approximately 945 kilometres to the northeast) at the time this image was taken. Part of a solar panel array on a docked Russian spacecraft is visible in the foreground.

The distance between the image subject area and the position of the photographer, as well as the viewing angle looking outwards from the ISS, contributes to the foreshortened appearance of the Italian Peninsula and Sicily.

Astronaut photograph provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre. Text adapted from information issued by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC.

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Italy and France at night

A stunning night-time image from orbit showing the lights of Torino, Lyon and Marseille.

A stunning night-time image from orbit showing the lights of Torino, Lyon and Marseille.

  • Image taken by Space Station astronaut
  • Night-time view of Torino, Lyon and Marseille
  • Moonlight glints off the Ligurian Sea

The brightly lit metropolitan areas of Torino (Italy), Lyon, and Marseille (both in France) stand out amidst numerous smaller urban areas in this dramatic astronaut photograph.

The image captures the night-time appearance of the France-Italy border. The south-western end of the Alps Mountains separates the two countries. The island of Corsica is visible in the Ligurian Sea to the south (image top).

The full Moon reflects brightly on the water surface and also illuminates the tops of low patchy clouds over the border (image centre).

This image was taken by an International Space Station (ISS) astronaut at approximately 11:55pm local time, when the ISS was located over the France-Belgium border near Luxembourg.

The full-size image can be seen here (0.8MB, will open in a new window).

Astronauts orbiting the Earth frequently collect images that include sunglint, or the mirror-like reflection of sunlight off a water surface. Sunglint typically lends a bright, or washed out appearance to the water surface.

In clear-sky conditions, reflected light from the Moon can produce the same effect (moonglint), as illustrated in this astronaut photograph.

The astronaut observer was looking towards the southeast at an oblique viewing angle at the time the image was taken; in other words, looking outwards from the ISS, not straight down towards the Earth.

Astronaut photograph provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Centre. Caption adapted from information issued by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.

Italy’s Adriatic coast

Italy's eastern Adriatic coast seen from space

Italy's eastern Adriatic coast seen from space

Clouds of tan and blue and green line Italy’s eastern shore in this natural-colour image from April 6, 2010, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

The colour is sediment billowing out from the shore into the Adriatic Sea. High concentrations of sediment are tan coloured. As the dirt disperses, the water turn pale blue green.

The sediment probably comes from run off after spring rain showers or from melting snow in the Apennine Mountains. Numerous rivers link the mountains to the coast. The rivers are pale, faint tan lines that cut across the green landscape.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Text adapted from information issued by Holli Riebeek.