Buonanotte, Italia

By Phil Plait | July 7, 2011 11:21 am

I love pictures of Earth from space, but there’s something especially thrilling when it’s some place you can easily recognize instantly. Like, say, the boot heel of Italy at night:

Sigh. Così bella! [Click to empeninsulate.]

This picture was taken by an astronaut on board the International Space Station. There’s not a lot of science to be done necessarily with pictures like this, but sometimes it’s OK just to gawk at pretty pictures from space.

And come to think of it… not that I recognized it, but just to the left of the top of the heel is Bari, a town I spent a day in while cruising with the Center for Inquiry. CfI sponsors many cruises to help raise funds, so keep an ear open for them. The JREF does things like this sometimes, too.

Italy is lovely from the ground, but, like the rest of the planet, literally takes on a new dimension from space.

Image credit: NASA

Related posts:

The storm below
A puzzling planet picture from the ISS
Followup: city lights from space
Goodnight, Earth

CATEGORIZED UNDER: JREF, NASA, Pretty pictures, Skepticism

Comments (13)

  1. Hi Phil.
    I’m one of your italian followers.
    I live in Rome, but starting from tomorrow I’m on vacation, precisely here:
    (Photo by Paolo Nespoli from ISS). It is named “Gargano” and is in the top left in your photo.

  2. It looks like Italy’s on fire….

  3. MarkW

    Oh wow that is beautiful.

  4. Astrofiend

    Sweet – I’ll be over there in two weeks, so thanks for getting me psyched!

  5. Sam H

    Why and how is the solar panel assembly illuminated? Is it the moon?

  6. Thomas

    Wow, an astronomy site and no one’s brought up light pollution.

  7. Nigel Depledge

    The BA said:

    Click to empeninsulate

    This made me do a double-take. I mis-read it at first.


  8. Charles Kuester

    RE: Thomas

    Light pollution: It’s a lot prettier looking down on it than up through it.

  9. idahogie

    The Earth Observatory IoTD site says this about the photo:

    The International Space Station (ISS) was located over an area of Romania, close to the capital city of Bucharest (approximately 945 kilometers to the northeast) at the time this image was taken.

    It seems to me that the picture had to be taken over Algeria or Tunesia. Or was the photo flipped over, such that the POV was actually from the top edge of the image?

    They don’t seem to have a forum for discussion the way that APoD does, or I’d ask there.

  10. Its beautiful! Now if I can only afford to go to Milan… :(((((((((

  11. psk

    cheers from sicily man!

  12. Chris A.

    I’m afraid I find this sort of photo pretty in the same way that the rainbow colors of an oil slick are pretty. Appealing to the eye, yes, but tragic. Imagine a day when the continents are difficult to identify from space because of widespread use of efficient lighting.

    An astronomer can dream can’t he?


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