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Astronaut takes stunning pictures of the Southern Lights from the International Space Station

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‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be more beautiful?’ Astronaut takes beautiful pictures of the southern lights from the International Space Station

  • Astronaut and aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet, 43, is currently on the International Space Station
  • The French astronaut photographed the Aurora Australis with a rare bluish tinge under the light of the moon
  • “The moon was high and very bright. It lit up the clouds and created a very special atmosphere,” explains Pesquet

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These photos are undoubtedly out of this world.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured breathtaking images of the Southern Lights under the full moon from the International Space Station (ISS).

The aurora — which is usually green tinged with red or purple — appeared to have a rare bluish tinge, which only occurs under specific conditions.

Thomas Pesquet captured breathtaking images of the Southern Lights under the full moon from the International Space Station

The Aurora - which is typically green tinged with red or purple - appeared to have a rare bluish tinge

The Aurora – which is typically green tinged with red or purple – appeared to have a rare bluish tinge

Pesquet, 43, who is an astronaut for the European Space Agency, explains in a Facebook post: ‘The moon was high and very bright, it lit up the clouds and created a very special atmosphere… and it made this aurora polar… almost blue.

‘ Curious what Mother Nature has in store for us for the rest: a yellow borealis or bright red? A huge rainbow?’

The space engineer admitted to witnessing several auroras during his current mission – Alpha – which launched on April 23 this year.

However, he confirmed that this particular view “came with something extra” thanks to the glow of the moon.

Auroras occur when electrically charged solar particles enter Earth's atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles

Auroras occur when electrically charged solar particles enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles

“The moon was high and very bright, it lit up the clouds and created a very special atmosphere,” said Pesquet, who described the rare phenomenon.

WHAT ARE AURORAS?

There are two types of auroras – Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south’.

The lights are created when charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Usually, the particles are deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field, but some enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles.

These collisions emit light in many colors, although light green and pink are common.

Pesquet added: ‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be more beautiful?’

Auroras occur when electrically charged solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles.

The natural phenomenon occurs at the north and south poles, which means that people who are in very high or very low latitudes have a better chance of observing one.

Northern auroras — often known as the “Northern Lights” — are called Aurora Borealis, meaning “dawn of the north.”

Southern lights are called Aurora Australis – from the Latin word meaning southern, which, by the way, is the name of Australia.

The Aurora Australis is best seen from Antarctica, Tasmania and the southern coastline of the mainland.

This isn’t the first time Pesquet has delivered mesmerizing photos of the ISS. Earlier this year, he shared stunning images of Uluru, Australia, from his place in space.

He is one of seven astronauts currently conducting research on the space station, a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering lab that orbits 400 kilometers above Earth.

'An aurora under the full moon, what could be more beautiful?'  Pesquet wondered, after sharing the photos from space

‘An aurora under the full moon, what could be more beautiful?’ Pesquet wondered, after sharing the photos from space

Since November 2000, the ISS has been permanently manned by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts.

This is Pesquet’s second stay on the ISS.

In November 2016, he was launched into space for his six-month Proxima mission as a flight engineer for Expeditions 50 and 51.

THE $100 BILLION ISS IS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth.

It has been permanently manned by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.

Research aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have explored space medicine, life sciences, natural sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency NASA spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program.

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