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City Lights, France-Italy Border (NASA, International Space Station Science, 04/28/10)

City lights at night along the France-Italy border, Europe are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member on the International Space Station (ISS). The brightly lit metropolitan areas of Torino (Italy), Lyon, and Marseille (both in France) stand out amidst numerous smaller urban areas in this dramatic photograph. The image captures the night time appearance of the France-Italy border area between the mountainous Alps to the north (not shown) and the island of Corsica in the Ligurian Sea to the south (top). The full moon reflects brightly on the water surface and also illuminates the tops of low patchy clouds over the border (center). This image was taken by an ISS crew member at approximately 11:55 p.m. local time when the station was located over the France-Belgium border near Luxembourg. Crew members orbiting Earth frequently collect images that include sunglint, or sunlight that reflects off a water surface at such an angle that it travels directly back towards the observer. Sunglint typically lends a mirror-like appearance to the water surface. During clear sky conditions reflected light from the moon can produce the same effect (moon glint) as illustrated in this view. The observer was looking towards the southeast at an oblique viewing angle at the time the image was taken; in other words, looking outwards from the ISS, not straight down towards Earth.


Image/caption credit: NASA


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Taken on April 28, 2010