- Photographer and astronaut Thomas Pesquet lives on the International Space Station.
- Pesquet posted a breathtaking video of the Aurora Australis on his social media.
The aurora displays a lucky few of us will have the chance to see in our lifetimes are both a fascinating and rare sight for amateurs and astronauts alike.
Thomas Pesquet is an astronaut based at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) International Space Station (ISS). He’s already proven himself a talented astrophotographer but the images he’s captured of the Aurora Australis are impressive even for an astronaut of his renown.
Posting images of the aurora on Twitter, Pesquet captioned the photo: “Clouds compete for attention in this aurora timelapse over a blue ocean.”
Though the Aurora Australis isn’t as well-known as the Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights, it can be just as spectacular.
—Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) September 14, 2021
Auroras happen due to a stream of charged particles called solar winds.
A solar wind is when the Sun releases a stream of charged particles. These energetic particles travel through space at high speed.
When they eventually reach Earth’s magnetosphere, the region around Earth controlled by its magnetic field. The field launches strong electromagnetic waves towards Earth’s surface.
Electrons ride these waves, colliding with atoms and molecules and creating the spectacular light displays we call auroras.
“I don’t know why we saw so many in the span of a few days, when I barely saw one during my entire first mission, but these last ones came with something extra,” he said on his Facebook account. “As the Moon was high and bright, it lit up the clouds from above, which created a distinct atmosphere… and almost turned the aurora blue.”
As well as these light displays, Pesquet managed to capture some other impressive shots from his time on the ISS, including an image from when he did a spacewalk 417 kilometers above Argentina on January 13th, 2017.