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NASA Space Science

Stunning Time Lapse of the Earth From the ISS 180

The Bad Astronomer writes "Science educator James Drake took 600 still photos from the International Space Station as it orbited the Earth, and created a fantastic time-lapse animation out of them. It must be seen to be appreciated; storms and cities fly past below in amazing clarity."

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Stunning Time Lapse of the Earth From the ISS

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  • by planimal ( 2454610 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @03:23PM (#37435204)
    seeing bolts of lightning from space was awfully sublime
    • by ajo_arctus ( 1215290 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @03:29PM (#37435238) Homepage

      I was amazed at just how much lightning was in that video. It never occurred to me until now that there would be so many thunderstorms going on all over the world all of the time. This is a rare video where the superlatives in the headline (amazing, fantastic etc.) are well and truly justified.

      • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @06:52PM (#37436318)

        According to Wikipedia [] there are 44 +/- 5 lightning bolts per second on the Earth.

        • by Myopic ( 18616 )

          Indeed, and most of the lightning doesn't even come down and contact the Earth; most lightning, and the biggest lightning, jumps between clouds, as shown in the video.

      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @07:26PM (#37436524) Journal
        Also checkout the atmospheric lensing of the stars in the background.
        • Also checkout the atmospheric lensing of the stars in the background.

          I thought that was Airglow []

          • It's different. Watch the stars as they pass through the atmospheric layer. They're brighter within it, thanks to atmospheric lensing. Some aren't even visible after they pass above the yellow arc.

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )
        Too bad one other curious sight given by the ISS to its occupants is missing, aurora: [] [] []

        Also, I won't complain if the next attempt would be less jerky... if not by longer exposures (which would introduce some motion blur, but probably also make lightning less visible), then at least by capturing photos m
      • You obviously haven't spent anytime listening to shortwave or longwave radio -- so you're a good little sheeple only checking the mainstream media. Yes, there is tons of lightning going on around the earth 24/7, and you know what? At LF, and in the right ionospheric conditions, the radio noise goes around and around the earth, like in a giant echo chamber. The period is such that it echoes at about 7 Hz. Pretty cool the first time you hear the effect on lightning, or on some LF radio station. Not very
      • This is so beautiful, it hurts.

    • Direct youtube link: []

    • The HD version is awesome. More FPS and longer would be appreciated! :-)

      In the 90s there was a great late night program on German TV called "Space Night / Earth Views". While obviously only SD, those were mesmerizing films with perfect ambient/chill background music. Examples (headphones recommended):
      Earth Views 6 Intro []
      Earth Views 4 Excerpt []

      • In the 90s there was a great late night program on German TV called "Space Night / Earth Views". While obviously only SD, those were mesmerizing films with perfect ambient/chill background music.

        It's again on every night on both "Bayerisches Fernsehen" and "BR-alpha".

      • The US should run NASA videos and slideshows of space imagery all the time, seeding news and talk shows with them as "news events". We'd get a lot more people appreciating the truly elevating work we spend so relatively little to get from NASA. In fact NASA should probably get a half-billion bucks a year just to mail a DVD to every American household at Christmastime.

        Instead all we get is the terminally boring NASA TV channel, and only on some cable systems (Cox in New Orleans, but not any in the NYC area).

      • by Old Wolf ( 56093 )

        There's a video response where the guy has edited it to look smoother and clearer: []

    • Yes indeed, I noticed that too. I also noted how lit up most of the Earth is at night. Talk about a big, glowing target!
    • by RoLi ( 141856 )

      Did anybody recognize over which area the ISS flew in the video?

      • by jhigh ( 657789 )
        I was wondering the same thing. It would be nice if there was another version of the video with labels or something that popped up and indicated what location was being flown over at the time.
        • Look in the YouTube description, it's there... it started over the Pacific Ocean, around 0:11 I think you can see SF and LA, and it continued to Central and South America, ending with the sunrise around Antarctica.

  • Lightning looks really impressive from up there. Shame its not as good down here.

    • ? i've seen some amazing lightning storms that give you the "wow" factor every bit as much as this footage. perhaps you don't live in a particularly stormy area?

    • Agreed - hard to believe this is from still frames.
  • So that's what those rich people pay for...
    • You mean every American taxpayer? We're hardly all rich. Only the tiniest percentage of us are. And they don't pay taxes.

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        Partially agreeing with the grandparent post, I'd agree that particular view would be worth seeing for about $20-$40 million, assuming I had that kind of money. It would be especially worth watching from the Cupola of the ISS or something similar. That several wealthy people have paid that sort of price for the privilege, I'd have to say that particular view of the Earth is precisely what those folks are paying that kind of money to see.

        • Well, they're paying to feel the view.

          The rest of us are paying to just see it. And paying most of the cost for the rich people to hitch a ride.

    • Windows 2000 - from the guys who brought us edlin

      Also your signature is incorrect... edlin is loosely based on Unix ed: []

      A more accurate statement would be "Windows 2000 - from the guys who brought us VMS" (see [] )

  • Interesting (Score:2, Funny)

    by deathcow ( 455995 ) *

    I thought they weren't going to fly over Compton/Los Angeles anymore at nighttime after the Soyuz-jackings last year?

  • by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @03:59PM (#37435360) Homepage Journal

    If we got everyone to shut of their lights and not answer radio calls from ISS for a day. Just to mess with their heads!

    • I'm sure there has to be a Ray Bradbury story about this somewhere.
    • I think It would have to be pre-planned waaaaaaaaaay in advance.

      I wonder what would happen at power plants if everyone removed power from any outdoor photon emitting device a at the same time?

    • Reminds me of Love []. Though, I haven't seen the movie by now, but I'd like to as soon as possible.
    • Sadly, and I say sadly because I am love to admit I've watched this movie, it sounds much like the book that John Cusack's character wrote in that horrible movie 2012.

  • Fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigitalGodBoy ( 142596 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @04:00PM (#37435368) Homepage
    Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot": []

    Always a good perspective check
  • It's a little sad to see all that light pollution. I wonder my children eill ever be able to see the milky way... without having to pay for a space trip.

    What i found most interesting was all the thunderstorms aligned over large distances.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are many places even in the USA where the night is pitch black and you can see the Milky Way with zero light pollution. It's much easier to go the NE New Mexico than into orbit.

      • While traveling through NM this summer at night, I made a point to stop in the middle of nowhere and turn off all of my lights. The view was amazing and you could clearly and easily see the Milky Way. It was actually kind of spooky with how pitch black it was out in the middle of nowhere. The mind starts playing tricks on you quite quickly... :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You've never been camping, have you?

    • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

      It's a little sad to see all that light pollution. I wonder my children eill ever be able to see the milky way... without having to pay for a space trip.

      As others mentioned, there are plenty of places you can go that still offer a pristine view of the night sky. Light pollution drops off pretty rapidly as you get away from the source.

      This summer we had a mini family reunion at my uncle's cabin in southwest Montana. Possibly the best part for me was getting away from the city and seeing the night sky the way it is truly meant to be seen. The sheer number of stars and their brightness is mind-boggling and yet so easily lost and forgotten in even a smaller

    • Light pollution? so light is bad now? someone tell the sun...

  • by jthill ( 303417 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @04:09PM (#37435412)
    For the first time, I wondered why we can't mod stories up.
  • there should be live streaming of the planet done constantly by many satellites at different latitudes/longitudes, resolutions, frequencies, all sorts of options.

    • by jthill ( 303417 )
      There's the ISS live stream [] which isn't on 24/7 and isn't always an Earth view then, but it's the best I've found. Plays with VLC on linux, too. On Windows you can make the live video your desktop. That's, uhhh, distracting.
  • Man, reality has low FPS.

  • Green city? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by luisdom ( 560067 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @04:33PM (#37435496)

    What's the green light seen on sec. 30?

    • Re:Green city? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @05:30PM (#37435836)
      Looks Veracruz has predominantly mercury vapor lighting, as opposed to the yellow-orange sodium vapor lighting seen in most of the other cities. Tokyo at night from space glows greenish blue for this reason, anyway. There's an discussion of this (and of other effects seen in pictures of cities at night taken from orbit) here: Cities At Night []
      • Veracruz is not on that side of Mexico (the Gulf is on the left side on this video).

        That would be, if still in Mexico, more like Oaxaca or even Chiapas. If indeed its even more to the south, then Guatemala.

        • I compared the video to Google Earth, with the viewpoint set at a similar altitude and angle.

          I'm pretty sure it's Guatemala City.

      • No... Clearly, the Borg have landed and have begun to assimilate us...

        I, for one, welcome our blah blah blah...

    • Kind of looks like a toxic green cloud settling over New Jersey... Maybe all that methane off-gassing from the dumps is accumulating in the atmosphere above the bigger cities. Could also be a by-product of spray tanning chemicals.
  • Would you believe some twit has already plagiarized it, and even kept the same YouTube title? []

    I've never felt a need to "report" YouTube videos before, but there doesn't even seem to be a public mechanism to do it.

    • Report it for what? NASA videos are not copyrighted.

      And even if they were, Youtube only lets you report copyright violations if you're the copyright holder. As it should.

  • by wrencherd ( 865833 ) on Sunday September 18, 2011 @05:20PM (#37435790)
    I can see my house!
  • This sequence was taken at night using moonshine for illumination. Which makes it pretty damn cool.
  • Why are we oohing and ahhing over the Civilization 4 title screen?

  • As the world is flat, this is clearly impossible, and must be propaganda made up by Marxists or other atheists.
  • Am I the only one who imagined the theme to Blakes 7 while watching this?

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