Curtains of Unearthly Light

To mid-latitude dwellers in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the aurora may seem strange, even supernatural. A rare sight in the lower forty-eight, these dazzling displays nonetheless send a powerful message to the people of Earth by way of our northern brothers and sisters – that there’s more to our relationship with the sun than a nice afternoon at the beach. Much more.

By zooming in on the diffuse, drape-like quality of the Aurora Borealis from an altitude 250 miles above British Columbia in Western Canada, the camera challenges our sense of reality. Charged particles from the Sun interact with Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere to improvise a multicolored festival of light, as if to remind us that we must never take nature for granted.

Compare this shot with the ISS Image of the Week from November 11, 2017 (see archive below), a wide-angle shot that highlights the aurora’s overall circumpolar ring shape.

Science link:https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/aurora/