Starry Nights and Snowy Lights: Space Station’s Stunning View of Eastern Canada

Eastern Canada Airglow and Aurora Annotated

Photo of eastern Canada captured on January 1, 2024, by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Lights, snow, and clouds brighten this wintery scene of Earth’s northern latitudes.

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photo of eastern Canada. The image was taken near the northernmost limit of the station’s inclined equatorial orbit, which tops out about 52 degrees north of the equator. The perspective includes a view of space station’s solar panels in the foreground, Earth’s horizon about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, and celestial objects far in the distance. Lights, snow, and clouds brighten the winter scene on Earth.

Two of Canada’s provinces—Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador—are pictured along with the territory of Nunavut on the other side of the Hudson Strait. Toward Earth’s limb, the coast of Greenland is faintly visible beneath the clouds. Higher in the atmosphere, airglow hugs the curvature of Earth and the light of the aurora cuts across the scene.

Thin cloud layers cover the Atlantic Ocean, while clearer skies prevail over the land exposing snow cover, the lights of small settlements, and rivers flowing toward Canada’s coast. Tucked into the frozen scene is Mistastin Lake, which partially fills the depression of an impact crater. The crater serves as a site where astronauts are trained in geology and work on techniques for planetary exploration.

Astronaut photograph ISS070-E-51709 was acquired on January 1, 2024, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 24 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 70 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Caption by Andrea Wenzel/Jacobs-JETS II Contract at NASA-JSC.

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