The shimmery orange and effervescent glow that extended over the International Space Station is known as 'airglow', and was recently captured in a photograph by an astronaut.
On October 7, an astronaut on the International Space Station who was orbiting 250 miles over Australia witnessed the Earth wrapped in a sparkling and bright orange color, inspiring him to whip out his camera so that he could capture the mysterious airglow that appeared to be enveloping it.
As report, the orange color known as airglow is a “luminescence” that comes from the many and varied chemical reactions that take place high up in Earth’s atmosphere and end up as bands of light that extend from 50 to 400 miles throughout the atmosphere.
When light from the sun creates ultraviolet radiation, this radiation can sometimes take molecules of oxygen, sodium, nitrogen and ozone and energize them. During this energizing process the different molecules collide with each other, and the more they collide the more energy they lose.
It is this utter depletion of energy that creates the magnificent effects of airglow, which looks impressively like an effervescent shield over Earth, much like the one most recently witnessed on board the International Space Station.
In a statement, have explained that besides being beautiful, airglow is also enormously useful to scientists when it comes to learning more about the movement of particles.
Ghostly Orange Light Envelopes Earth During Rare Airglow https://t.co/8eJ4AnyVBQpic.twitter.com/DWaKXMWEb6
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) November 7, 2018
Because of the extreme faintness of airglow, which is one billion times dimmer than sunlight, note that this phenomenon is best witnessed in the dark of night. However, airglow can be seen at any time of day, and has different names which correspond to these times.
And while airglow oftentimes is cast in a vibrant orange or yellowish light, at other times it can take on a much different hue. This was the case back in 2016, when a photographer was visiting the Azores Islands and witnessed airglow that was every color of the rainbow, as reported at the time.
However, regardless of the color presented, airglow is a spectacular phenomenon which one astronaut aboard the International Space Station was very lucky to witness earlier last month.