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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

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.