Atlantis and Aurora

Atlantis and Aurora, from Space

The last ever space shuttle flight is almost over. After its final visit to the International Space Station, Atlantis is preparing to return to Earth tomorrow, marking the end of a long and eventful era in the human exploration of space. Astronaut Mike Dexter Fossum has been posting some beautiful pictures online – this one is particularly gorgeous, showing Atlantis docked at the ISS with a beautiful aurora display in the background. I love the hashtag #FromSpace – just in case you were, you know, confused about that.

Airborne Aurora Timelapse

This is a rather neat video, a timelapse of a flight from San Francisco to Paris that captures an aurora display along the way. The only time I’ve ever seen the aurora was over the Arctic in a plane – it wasn’t as impressive as these images but I was still excited to have caught a glimpse. The video’s a bit messy but worth a watch.

Pretty solar storms

I don’t usually envy people who live in places like Iceland or Northern Canada – cold, dark and desolate places. But I am insanely jealous of them for one reason: the Aurora Borealis. Aurorae light up their skies, when charged particles streaming out from the Sun slam into the Earth’s magnetic field, get accelerated along the field lines towards the poles, creating these luminescent showers of light as they interact with the atoms in the upper atmosphere.

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