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.

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