Seeing Red

NASA image captured September 26, 2011


Many aurora appear green, but sometimes — as in this image from the International Space Station — other colors such as red can appear. The colors depend on which atoms are causing the splash of light seen in the aurora. In most cases, the light comes when a charged particle sweeps in from the solar wind and collides with an oxygen atom in Earth’s atmosphere. This produces a green photon, so most aurora appear green. However, lower-energy oxygen collisions as well as collisions with nitrogen atoms can produce red photons -- so sometimes aurora also show a red band as seen here.


Karen Fox

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Credit: NASA


NASA image use policy.


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.


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  • Jim 4y

    Excellent work. Congrats on Explore!
  • DarkAngelDay 4y


  • Oli Clearwater Pics 4y

  • Alberto Giomix 4y

  • Photo--Graphy 4y

    So nice...
  • Martin Cauchon 4y

    Really interisting capture. Good work!

    commented with FlickrComment
  • Bob Misuraca 4y

  • Raul sanhueza 4y

    Magico !
  • Clifton Dickinson 4y

    Fantastic image!!!
  • Diego Gravinese 4y

    I don't feel envy often, but for god, I envy you guys. ..not as much as I love you. Thank you!
  • art-profiles .com 4y

    Great photo, worth watching...
  • Gianluca Merlo 4y

    You and your photo were number 3 last week on ClickrChart!

  • Mari Khegai 4y

  • carlosbezz 4y

    This is a wonderful shot!
    You are invited to post it to:

  • Rosário Marques 4y

    Awesome !!!
  • Paul Gunning 4y

    Fantastic shot from a very unique perspective above out planet! It wa s great display on the 26th - to my amazement I saw it in the skies over Yorkshire England at 52°N. Couldn't believe my luck as I was out taking star-trails photos so had my camera to hand. Caught the red and green, just from a less exotic location! It's on my photostream if you folks at NASA Goddard might be interested. Thanks for posting this one from the ISS!
  • hendongirl 4y

  • Maria Johnsoon 4y

    Awesome. I look these nasa pictures especially nebulas ones but this one is breathtaking. layered hairstyles for thin hair is my favorite fashion picture. When i own this spaceship i would be glad to take meny pictures like this.
  • Franz Maruna 4y

    We love this picture and would enjoy using it for the background picture of the day for our content management system, Concrete5 CMS - .

    We have space to attribute the photo as well as link to any page you’d like in the footer. When it goes live it will reach about a quarter of a million people, so if you’d like to give us a custom title and different URL than your Flickr page we’d be happy to make sure it’s attributed as you desire. Just shoot me a Personal Message.

    Thank you for releasing your amazing work under this license.

    Franz Maruna
332 faves
Taken on September 18, 2011
  • 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8
  • ƒ/2.8
  • 20.0 mm
  • 1.3
  • 12800
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
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This photo is in 3 galleries

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