The easily recognised boot of Italy, with Sicily at its toe, is spread across this panorama taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
On a clear night looking east, the pattern of night lights shows populations concentrated mainly along the coastlines, but also in the Po River Valley of northern Italy.
Some of the brightest clusters of lights are Rome and nearby Naples, with island cities of Cagliari on Sardinia and Catania on Sicily — now well-known as the hometown of European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.
The small, dark, circular patch dangerously close to Catania marks the unpopulated slopes of the active volcano Etna. Hazy lights, as over the Po valley and Rome, probably indicate thin clouds above. The island of Malta appears at the lower right.
The airglow line is vivid in this night shot.
Astronaut photograph ISS041-E-90188 was acquired on October 21, 2014, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 24 millimetre lens, and 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 the Expedition 42 crew. It 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.
Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.
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- New posts in the Earth Matters blog – NASA Earth Science in the News
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