NASA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet International Space Station
Photo credit: Thomas Pesquet
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet spends his free time aboard the International Space Station capturing breathtaking photographs, and his latest of the Aurora Australis is definitely no exception. This blue color of the southern lights is a rare phenomenon, partially due to the added additional illumination from the Moon. The Moon was particularely high and very bright, illuminating the clouds to create a very special atmosphere. Read more for additional pictures and information.

NASA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet International Space Station
NASA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet International Space Station
NASA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet International Space Station
The main components responsible for the aurora are essentially monoatomic oxygen (O), diatomic nitrogen (N2) and ionized diatomic nitrogen (N2+). Oxygen emits either a red-orange or a lemon-green glow, while the diatomic nitrogen gives off a deep red glow and its ionized form has a deep blue/purple sheen. When you see a blue aurora, it typically means high geomagnetic activity and only happens under very specific conditions.

Celestron - PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope - Manual German Equatorial Telescope for Beginners - Compact and Portable - BONUS Astronomy Software Package - 80mm Aperture
  • PERFECT BEGINNERS TELESCOPE: The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ is an easy-to-use and powerful telescope. The PowerSeeker series is designed to give the first-time telescope user the perfect combination of quality, value, features, and power.
  • MANUAL GERMAN EQUATORIAL MOUNT: Navigate the sky with our refractor telescope. It features a German Equatorial mount with a slow-motion altitude rod for smooth and accurate pointing. Adjust rod to desired position, then easily secure by tightening cross knob.
  • COMPACT AND PORTABLE: This telescope for adults and kids to be used together is compact, lightweight, and portable. Take the telescope to your favorite campsite or dark sky observing site, or simply the backyard.
  • MULTIPLE ACCESSORIES: The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope features 2 eyepieces (20mm and 4mm), erect image diagonal, finderscope, plus a 3x Barlow lens to triple the power of each. Accessories also include a FREE download of one of the top consumer rated astronomy software programs.

As a rule, the colors are set and never change but the three parameters stated above make the colors vary. Sometimes the color limits are quite defined but most of the time the entities mix with currents at different altitudes and create other colors like pink, yellow, emerald-blue, magenta, and purple. During periods of intense geomagnetic storms, you can potentially get a lot of different colors at once,” said the Aurora Borealis Observatory.

Bonus Video