Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a picture on July 31, 2011 showing the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. The orange-red troposphere lies closest to Earth’s surface. A brown transitional layer marks the upper edge of the troposphere, the tropopause.
A milky white and gray layer rests above that, likely part of the stratosphere possibly containing some noctilucent clouds. The upper atmosphere composed of the mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere fades from blue to the blackness of space.— Tom Chao
Credit: ISS Crew Earth Observations Experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory/Johnson Space Center
Big Five from Africa and Twilight Arch
The photo above shows a gathering of planets and the waning crescent Moon as captured from Tivoli, Namibia just before dawn on May 30, 2011. The “Big Five” in Africa refers to the top five big game animals; lion, leopard, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and elephant.
On this late autumn morning (Southern Hemisphere), however, I was able to a bring down a prize night-sky quarry — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and our Moon all in the same frame. Venus shines brightly at magnitude -3.9, Jupiter at -2.2; Mercury at -1.0, and Mars glows dimly at 1.4 magnitude.
Only five percent of the slender Moon was illuminated. The shallow arching band of red, gold and yellow at the bottom of the photo is the twilight arch. Sunlight from the rising Sun (still about six degrees below the horizon) is scattered by the cloud-free atmosphere.
Photography & Summary by Eduard von Bergen
Backdropped by a Colorful Earth
STS-116 Mission Specialists Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and Christer Fuglesang participate in the first of the mission’s three planned sessions of extravehicular activity as construction resumes on the International Space Station.
Image credit: NASA