The NASA photo was taken aboard the ISS at an incredible 250 miles (402km) above the planet’s surface. The ISS, which is the largest manmade object in space, offers unprecedented views of the Earth’s natural beauty. Because the space station is locked in low Earth orbit (LEO), ISS astronauts are well positioned to see eclipses, hurricanes and aurorae. And in this particular example, NASA astronaut Christina Koch stitched together multiple phenomena for one single breathtaking photograph.
NASA’s picture was taken in the dead of night – one of 16 witnessed every single day.
Because the ISS orbits the Earth at five miles per second, the space station passes from day into the night every 45 minutes.
This gives astronauts a brief window of opportunity to photograph streaking star trails over the planet, thunderstorms and city light.
The streaks of light are the result of taking a long exposure photo, allowing more light to hit the camera sensor while blurring all movement.
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Mrs Koch also overlaid multiple images over one another for a more dramatic effect.
The astronaut said in a tweet: “City lights, stars, lightning storms, even satellite flares. A composite of individual photos stacked on top of each other to show all the amazing things we see at night out our window.”
On Monday, July 8, the astronaut also revealed herself to be a surfing fan when she snapped a photo of surf swells off the coast of South Africa.
Mrs Koch is an avid fan of surfing together with her husband Bob Koch.
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She tweeted from the space station: “Pumping. View from the @Space_Station of the southwest swell wrapping around to become those perfect rights at J-By, South Africa.
“Hoping for some perfect 10’s at this stop of the @wsl Championship Tour! #SwellfromSpace.”
The WSL is the World Surfing League, which is hosting a tournament in South Africa between July 9 and July 22.
And on July 5, the astronaut passed over her home state of North Carolina.
Mrs Koch took two striking images of the US state, revealing its coast and bustling cities.
The astronaut said: “Beautiful clear day to fly over my home state of North Carolina.
“Great to talk to you this week, Raleigh-Durham! I see you too, Jacksonville and Emerald Isle!”
Mrs Koch joined the International Space Station on March 14, 2019, and is expected to return to Earth in February 2020.