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Out-of-this-world aurora

In a picture from the International Space Station, an auroral display flashes green above the violet haze on Earth.
In a picture from the International Space Station, an auroral display flashes green above the violet haze on Earth.NASA

NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock sends along this picture of an auroral display as seen from space - and says such views remind him of the Don McLean song "Starry Night." It's not clear when this picture was taken, but the vantage point matches up with the International Space Station, where Wheelock is serving as the unofficial on-board photographer. Seeing the northern and southern lights from above are a special treat for the astronauts. The aurora made quite a splash last week, and space weather forecasters had thought there might be a solar-storm sequel this week. It turned out that this week's auroral displays weren't as dramatic as last week's. Nevertheless, Wheelock's pictures - like this week's Perseid meteor displays - serve as a reminder that beauty can be found high above our heads like "swirling clouds in violet haze."