Awesome Photo: Aurora, Airglow, City Lights and Shining Stars

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano shares a lot of fantastic photos taken from his privileged position 260 miles up aboard the Space Station, orbiting the planet 16 times a day. This is his latest, a stunning view of nighttime city lights spread out beneath a glowing dome of ghostly airglow and shimmering aurorae, with a backdrop of brightly shining stars. The dark silhouette of a solar array is in the foreground at right.

And in case you were wondering, yes, astronauts certainly can see stars while in space. A lot of them, in fact. (Except up there, they don’t twinkle… but they’re no less beautiful!)

“Every time we look into the sky and we admire the same stars, we share the same experience with all those who still know how to dream.”

– Luca Parmitano

Luca Parmitano is the first of ESA’s new generation of astronauts to fly into space. The current mission, Volare, is ESA’s fifth long-duration Space Station mission. During his six-month-long stay aboard the ISS, Luca has been conducting research for ESA and international partners as well as taken many photographs of our planet, sharing them on Twitter, Flickr, and the Volare mission blog.

See this and more photos taken by Luca on the Volare Flickr page here.

Image credit: ESA/NASA