A Timelapse Of All The Different Sights Astronauts See From The ISS

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An astronaut aboard the ISS sees some pretty incredible things when he or she looks out the window. And now, this gorgeous timelapse consolidates some of the most amazing of those sights, so that the rest of us can get a glimpse, too.

Put together by the ESA from images taken by astronaut Alexander Gerst, the timelapse features some of the classic images that we've seen come down from the ISS over the last months. (Including auroras in motion, and a view of Cygnus as it's dropped from the ISS's robotic arm.) Especially fascinating to me, though, are the light trails that show up midway through the timelapse.

The circular star trails that you often see in appearing in rings around the sky are not unusual features in timelapses of nature. Here, the perspective is shifted, with the star trails moving straight up before disappearing over the horizon. Even more interesting, though, is that the second series of light trails that you see are not from stars at all — they're from cities. Instead of looking at the pattern of the light sent down towards us from space, we're seeing instead the patterns of light that we ourselves are sending upwards as they move across space themselves.