NOTE: There is no sound with this video.
When astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see views of Earth they think are worth recording, they take pictures.
The exterior of the ISS is equipped with both video and stills cameras. The astronauts will use either format, depending on which cameras are available.
Between December 29, 2011 and January 2 this year, the crew saw plenty worth recording. The still picture sequences they took were compiled into videos by the Crew Earth Observations team at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The first sequence of shots was taken on December 29, 2011 from 20:55:05 to 21:14:09 GMT, on a pass over central Africa, near southeast Niger, to the South Indian Ocean, southeast of Madagascar.
The sequence captures the lightning flashes from local storms and the Milky Way rising over the horizon. The Milky Way can be spotted as a hazy band of white light at the beginning of the video with the sun beginning to rise as the ISS crosses the Mozambique Channel and Madagascar.
The second sequence of shots was taken on January 2, 2012 from 10:56:14 to 11:17:54 GMT, on a pass from northeastern China to the Coral Sea, east of Australia.
The pass begins looking back from the ISS, northwest of Beijing. As the ISS travels southeast, it passes over Beijing and the Bohai Sea with the lights of Seoul, South Korea to the right of screen. Further to the right can be seen the night lights of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.
The third sequence was taken just 30 minutes earlier on a pass from the south Mediterranean Sea, just east of Tunisia, to northern Kazakhstan, crossing southern Italy and the Balkan Peninsular before ending over the snow and cloud covered country of Kazakhstan.