Fleeting Wonders: A Lightning Storm Viewed From Space - Atlas Obscura
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Fleeting Wonders: A Lightning Storm Viewed From Space

Far-off lightning flashbulbs the Turkish coast.

Far-off lightning flashbulbs the Turkish coast. (Image: Tim Peake/European Space Agency)

From close up, Earth looks like wherever you’re standing; from far off, it looks like a pale blue dot. But according to footage shot last night from the International Space Station, from exactly the right distance, our world boasts the kind of lightning-roiled landscape you might be scared to land your spacecraft on.

British astronaut Tim Peake shared this timelapse on Twitter at 5 a.m. Eastern time. As the camera glides smoothly over North Africa and Turkey, cloud banks crackling with lightning shoulder up to well-lit coastal cities. “Amazing how much lightning can strike our planet in a short time,” Peake wrote.

A relative unknown until a few months ago, Peake has quickly turned into one of the International Space Station’s most mischievous ambassadors, equally happy demonstrating bad microgravity somersaults and broadcasting space-inflected science lessons to British schoolkids. Over the last couple of days, he has started posting breathtaking, high-speed space panoramas like this one, and may soon be the Howard Hawks of the medium. Check out @astro_timpeake for more new views of our home planet.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.