20 Amazing Photos Taken From Space by Astronauts

Remember when the term ‘selfie’ became a buzzword in 2013? Around the same time, astronaut Mike Hopkins’ space selfie gained its own kind of fame. Although it wasn’t the first-ever space selfie, it was certainly one of the most memorable.

This selfie was more than just a photo; it provided a rare glimpse of Earth from space and showcased the risks astronauts take to capture such moments. But space selfies are just the tip of the iceberg. Astronauts like Reid Wiseman and Chris Hadfield regularly share breathtaking photos from space on social media.

So, we’ve curated a collection of 20 awe-inspiring photos taken by astronauts, complete with the stories behind them. Enjoy!

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Photo #1: The Moon’s Grand Exit

The Sun isn’t the only celestial body that rises and sets. The Moon does too, as captured in this photo. This phenomenon is known as Moonset.

Moonset as seen from space
Photo #2: The Supermoon of 2014

Missed the Supermoon on August 13, 2014? Don’t worry, American astronaut Reid Wiseman has you covered with this stunning photo.

Supermoon captured from space
Photo #3: Sunset Over the Indian Ocean

Witness the Sun setting over the Indian Ocean, as seen from the International Space Station (ISS).

Sunset over the Indian Ocean from the ISS
Photo #4: The New Moon Over the Pacific

Catch a glimpse of the New Moon over the southeast Pacific Ocean. Notice the thin crescent at the bottom where the Moon reflects sunlight.

New Moon over the southeast Pacific Ocean
Photo #5: The Stark Contrast Between North and South Korea

This photo starkly illustrates the differences between North and South Korea. South Korea is ablaze with city lights on the right, while North Korea remains in darkness. A brighter spot indicates the location of Pyongyang.

Contrast between North and South Korea
Photo #6: The Aurora Borealis from Space

The Aurora Borealis is already a mesmerizing sight from Earth. Imagine its splendor when viewed from space! This photo was taken from the ISS over the eastern North Atlantic, featuring city lights from the UK and Ireland.

Aurora Borealis over the eastern North Atlantic
Photo #7: Rocket Attacks Over Israel and Gaza

This night view might look like a regular cityscape until you notice bursts of light, which are actually rocket attacks over Israel and Gaza. The photo was taken by German astronaut Alexander Gerst.

Rocket attacks over Israel and Gaza
Photo #8: Dubai’s Nighttime Splendor

Dubai’s nighttime landscape is a favorite subject among astronauts, and it’s easy to see why. The man-made Palm Island is visible at the top left corner.

Earth Observatory
Dubai's nighttime landscape from space
Photo #9: Bolivia’s Golden River

This winding river in Bolivia appears like a golden thread due to the reflection of sunlight. The Sun is situated off to the right, illuminating the river.

Winding river in Bolivia illuminated by sunlight
Chris Hadfield
Photo #10: Mount Vesuvius from Above

Here’s how Mount Vesuvius in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, appears from space. It’s unsettling to see how closely towns and cities are situated around this active volcano.

Mount Vesuvius and surrounding areas from space
Photo #11: Japan’s Majestic Mount Fuji

Astronauts also capture stunning images of mountains, like this one of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak.

Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, from space
Earth Observatory
Photo #12: Life Blooms in the Ocean

This photo captures the growth of phytoplankton, a plant-like organism, off the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The milky green trail is a sign of life flourishing in the ocean.

Phytoplankton bloom off the coasts of Oregon and Washington
Photo #13: Hawke Bay, New Zealand’s Oceanic Beauty

The ocean always looks stunning from above, as evidenced by this part of Hawke Bay in New Zealand.

Hawke Bay, New Zealand from space
Photo #14: Typhoon Haiyan Engulfs the Philippines

Remember Typhoon Haiyan? This is how it appeared from space—a massive swirl of clouds engulfing the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan over the Philippines
Photo #15: Lightning Flashes Over West Africa

From space, lightning flashes appear even brighter than city lights. This photo captures such a moment over West Africa.

Lightning over West Africa from space
André Kuipers
Photo #16: The Eye of Sahara, Mauritania

Also known as the Richat Structure in Mauritania, the ‘Eye of Sahara’ is a landmark for astronauts.

The Eye of Sahara in Mauritania
Photo #17: The Grandeur of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef truly lives up to its name, as seen in this section off the east coast of Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia
Douglas Wheelock
Photo #18: A Glimpse Beyond Earth

Astronauts occasionally turn their gaze away from Earth, and the view is equally magnificent. Here, the ATV fires its boosters to adjust the ISS’s orbit.

ATV firing its boosters among the stars
Photo #19: Spacewalk Maintenance on the ISS

Astronauts also capture moments during spacewalks, especially when performing maintenance on the ISS.

Spacewalk maintenance on the ISS
Photo #20: Star Trails Captured in Long Exposure

Astronaut Don Pettit used long exposure to create this mesmerizing photo of star trails.

Long-exposure photo of star trails