Astronaut takes stunning pictures of the Southern Lights from the International Space Station

‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be better?’ Astronaut takes stunning pictures of the Southern Lights from the International Space Station

  • Astronaut and aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet, 43, is currently on the International Space Station 
  • The French astronaut photographed the Aurora Australis with a rare bluish hue under the light of the moon   
  • ‘The moon was high and very bright. It lit the clouds creating a very special atmosphere,’ Pesquet explained 

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These photographs are, unquestionably, out of this world.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has captured breathtaking images of the Southern Lights under the full moon from the International Space Station (ISS).

The aurora – which is typically green tinged with red or purple  – appeared to have a rare bluish hue, which only occurs under specific conditions. 

Thomas Pesquet captured breathtaking images of the Southern Lights under the full moon from the International Space Station

The Aurora - which is typically green tinged with red or purple - appeared to have a rare bluish hue

The Aurora – which is typically green tinged with red or purple – appeared to have a rare bluish hue

Pesquet, 43, who is an astronaut for the European Space Agency, explained in a Facebook post: ‘The moon was high and very bright, it lit the clouds creating a very special atmosphere… and it made this aurora polar… almost blue. 

‘Wonder what Mother Nature has in store for us for the rest: a yellow borealis or bright red? A huge rainbow?’

The aerospace engineer admitted he’d witnessed several auroras during his current mission – Alpha – which launched on April 23 of this year. 

However, he confirmed this particular view ‘came with something extra’ thanks to the moon’s glow.

Auroras occur when electrically charged sun particles enter the Earth's atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles

Auroras occur when electrically charged sun particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles

‘The moon was high and very bright, it lit the clouds creating a very special atmosphere,' Pesquet said, describing the rare phenomenon

‘The moon was high and very bright, it lit the clouds creating a very special atmosphere,’ Pesquet said, describing the rare phenomenon 

WHAT ARE AURORAS? 

There are two types of auroras – Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south’.

The lights are created when charged particles from the sun enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Usually the particles are deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field, but some enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles. 

These collisions emit light in many colours, although pale green and pink are common. 

Pesquet added: ‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be better?’

Auroras occur when electrically charged sun particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles.

The natural phenomenon occurs at the north and south poles, meaning people located in very high or very low latitudes have better chances of observing one. 

Northern auroras – often known as the ‘Northern Lights’ – are called Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’.

Southern Lights are called Aurora Australis – from the Latin term meaning southern, which incidentally, is how Australia got its name.

The Aurora Australis is best viewed from Antarctica, Tasmania and the southern mainland coastline.

This isn’t the first time Pesquet has delivered spellbinding photographs from the ISS. Earlier this year, he shared stunning images of Uluru, Australia, from his perch in space. 

He is one of seven astronauts currently undertaking research in the space station, which is a $100 billion (£80billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400km) above Earth. 

‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be better?’ Pesquet wondered, after sharing the photographs from space

‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be better?’ Pesquet wondered, after sharing the photographs from space 

The ISS has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.

This is Pesquet’s second stint in the ISS.

In November 2016, he was launched into space for his six-month Proxima mission as a flight engineer for Expeditions 50 and 51. 

THE $100BN ISS SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH 

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100billion (£80billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000. 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have investigated space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3billion (£2.4billion) a year on the space station program.

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