Sunrise, Sunset: Amazing Astronaut Views Show Our Changing Planet from Space

If you're looking for a spectacular sunset, look no further than a new video showing what the end of the day looks like on the International Space Station — just one of several recent videos and pictures displaying what Earth looks like to astronauts.

A time-lapse taken from one of the station's windows and posted June 3 shows the sun dramatically setting straight ahead. Long rays from the sun stretch down toward Earth's horizon, until the sun appears at the top of the video — blazing bright and showing off its true star-like nature, since there is no atmosphere to blur the sharp edges of its light.

Astronauts on the orbiting complex get to experience sunset 16 times a day, since the station circles the Earth every 90 minutes. And recent tweets from the ISS inhabitants show that in their limited spare time, the astronauts enjoy looking at Earth.

For example, how about checking out orbital sunrise? Another video from the space station shows the astronauts' view, backdropped by a cloudy Earth, as the station zooms into the light and moves from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. "I was awestruck as I watched the wispy clouds disappear into the shadows," U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, a member of the current Expedition 59 crew, said in a comment posted with the video in late May.

(Image credit: Christina Koch/NASA/Twitter)

Both Hague and his U.S. crewmate, Christina Koch, recently posted some pictures showing what they see below on Earth. On Monday (June 10), Koch showed a circular green aurora dancing beneath two spacecraft docked to the space station, tweeting: "Years ago at the South Pole, I looked up to the aurora for inspiration through the 6-month winter night. Now I know they're just as awe inspiring from above. #nofilter."

And Hague had a cheery wake-up call for Earth residents: "Good morning from @Space_Station," he tweeted Tuesday (June 11), along with a photo showing the sun's reflection off land and wispy clouds on the planet below him.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: