15 Things That Can Actually Be Seen from Space
These photos are just a glimpse of what astronauts can see when they take a look back down at our home planet.
What can really be seen from space?
There are many natural wonders of the world, but how many can be seen from space? Science fiction authors, astronauts, and Greek philosophers have stared up at the heavens in wonder at what the great galaxy looks like. Now, however, the cameras have turned to reveal what structures in the world look like from space.
The Great Pyramids of Giza
The Great Pyramids of Giza were built between 550 to 2490 B.C. and named after the pharaohs who built them: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Pharaoh Khufu started the construction by building a pyramid soaring to 481 feet, followed by his son, Khafre (which also includes the Sphinx) and finally with Menkaure, the smallest. Even though the construction of the ancient pyramids still puzzles archeologists, being able to see the oldest monument of the Seven Wonders of the World from space is a huge feat. Look through these gorgeous travel photos of the world.
The Rocky Mountain Trench
Even though the Rocky Mountain Trench is not visible from the moon, it’s visible from the International Space Station (ISS). An astronaut took this photo on September 6, 2014.
Karakul Lake in Tajikistan
Karakul Lake is located in the Pamir Mountains in the landlocked Central Asian country Tajikistan. Karakul means “black lake” in various Turkish languages, and the description is apt as the normally dark surface is transformed in winter into a white winter landscape. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite took this photo on May 1, 2019, when the snow could still be seen and hadn’t melted yet. Looking for other facts about lakes? These true stories behind the shipwrecks on Lake Superior will give you goosebumps.
The Niepolomice Forest in Poland
As the adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and a picture of Earth from space is no exception. This satellite image shows the Niepołomice Forest in Poland. Read up on these true stories from the most haunted forests in the world.
Power outages from Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew crashed into the coasts of Haiti, Cuba, and Grand Bahama Island as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. It then passed by Florida and Georgia before making landfall on the South Carolina coast as a weakened Category 1. These night time images of the Atlantic coast of the United States were captured by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite.
Palm Island Resort off the coast of Dubai
Off the coast of Dubai lies the man-made structure Palm Island Resort, which can be seen from space as a palm tree. The photograph was taken by an astronaut with an Electronic Still Camera on March 5, 2003.
The Grand Canyon under snow
The Grand Canyon is one of the most well-known natural wonders of the world, and astronauts in space get a truly unique view of this wonder. According to Earth Observatory, this photo was taken over Las Vegas, and astronauts were also able to get some sense of the topography from shadows and light. Here are a few spectacular photos of America’s national parks that will leave you awestruck.
Oceans aren’t the only large bodies of water to be captured by astronauts and satellites. One of the Rocky Mountains larger lakes, the 19-mile long Bear Lake, is on the border of Idaho and Utah. The lake caught the eye of an astronaut; this photo was taken with a Nikon digital camera on September 6, 2016. These are the astronomy facts you never learned in school.
Checkerboard pattern in Northern Idaho
Contrary to what this photo looks like, it’s not a life-size version of a game of chess or checkers. The squiggly line at the left of the photograph is the Priest River in northern Idaho. According to Earth Observatory, the land in the picture is “managed for wildlife and timber harvesting” and the checkerboard is a method used for “maintaining the sustainability of forested tracts while still enabling a harvest of trees.” This photograph was acquired on January 4, 2017, with a Nikon digital camera. Here are a few things you didn’t know about space travel.
The Glacier Okjökull
Unfortunately, nothing is going to last forever and Okjökull is no exception. These two images compare the Icelandic glacier in 1986 to present-day 2019. In 1901, the glacier was about 38 square kilometers or 15 square miles, but now less than 1 square kilometer is left. Sadly, the glacier was declared dead in 2014. This is what could happen if glaciers continue to melt.
The island of Madagascar
It’s hard to believe that astronauts holding cameras took these photos from the International Space Station (ISS). The trick, according to Earth Observatory, is smaller lens sizes. Make sure you know these facts about Earth you never learned in school.
Smoke from Canada
America’s northern neighbor is filled with stunning mountains, forests, and cities. There are also natural disasters and wildfires that happen, too. According to Earth Observatory, wildfires in Canada were so big that the smoke was visible from 1.5 million kilometers (or 1 million miles) from Earth.
Lights from cities at night
Some cities like New York City never sleep, and it’s stunning to view what a city looks like at night from space. This photograph of cities in Ireland and the United Kingdom was taken by an astronaut at night with a 28 mm lens.
Lake Oahe, South Dakota
Lake Oahe is the largest lake in the Missouri River reservoirs in South Dakota and can reach a depth of over 200 feet. An astronaut using a Nikon D5 camera took the photo from the International Space Station. Find out the difference between a pond and a lake.
The Volcano Erebus
Even though Antarctica is thought to be a sea of endless white, natural terrain provides a contrast to the scenery. There’s an active volcano on Antarctica called Erebus that was caught on camera from space and it’s not only the most active volcano in Antarctica but also the most active southernmost volcano on Earth, according to Atlas Obscura. Looking for inspiration for your next trip? These are the volcanos you can actually visit.