This video has been making geeks and space nerds squee loudly. It’s a time-lapse, put together from 600 still photos shot from the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America. The whole thing is magical, but one of the best parts is the lightning in the storm systems sitting off Central and South America.
Warning: it is nearly impossible to see this just once. And you may end up like me, with an atlas open next to your computer, trying to figure out exactly what you’re seeing. (The speed at which this film moves over continents is misleading. I know the west coast of North America quite well and still needed several viewings to figure it out.)
This will get you started. The video passes over, in order:
Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon.
You can also see the ozone layer, and the stars “rising” as the ISS travels around the globe. Major kudos to science educator James Drake, who assembled this. (He has a tumblr blog, too.)
Need I mention that you really should watch it in HD and full screen?
And if you need more marvelousness from the ISS, check out this glorious video of the Aurora Australis. It’s another time lapse, made from photos taken on 11 September.