Opinion Brief

The 'mesmerizing' view of Earth from an orbiting space station

A gorgeous new timelapse video lets you virtually soar above our planet, gazing at the shimmering cities and violent storms miles below

The video: Using a special video camera capable of capturing sharp images even in low light, a crew of astronauts aboard the International Space Station recently shot beautiful footage of the Earth, featuring glittering cities, the northern lights, and flashing lightning storms. (Watch the video below.) Stitched together by director Michael König, the footage — shot from August to October — has been "refurbished, smoothed, retimed, denoised, deflickered, cut," says Sam Biddle at Gizmodo. And if the video looks too good to be real, rest assured, it's legit: "All the goods come straight from NASA."

The reaction: This footage is more than "mesmerizing," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET. The view from space "somehow manages to remove the mind from the deep dark hole of the financial crises, political debates, bankrupt nations, and crushing inequality that is occurring beneath the light and clouds." And while timelapse reels of Earth are nothing new, says Phil Plait at Discover, this one "sets a new standard" for space footage. The video's "sense of motion, the sense of flying, is overpowering." It's "simply incredible." See for yourself:  

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