[skipwords]If you've ever soared above the Earth at more than 17,000 mph, watching cities and thunderstorms twinkle while the planet scrolls by like a moving sidewalk of the gods, then you may find the video below boring.
If not, do yourself a favor and watch this: (ideally in hi-res/full-screen mode)
This amazing video was created by an astute science educator named James Drake, who stitched it together using 600 photos that were taken from the International Space Station and posted on the Gateway to Astronomy Photograph of Earth. (The version above has been given an appropriately stirring soundtrack by the Imaginary Foundation; see the silent original version below.)
Opening at night above the northern Pacific Ocean, the video follows the ISS as it zooms past North and South America, and closes with a dramatic flourish as it approaches Antarctica while morning sunlight floods over the horizon. Its flyby also includes several manmade and natural landmarks, which Drake lists on YouTube:
"Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy."
As Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy notes, "The actual motion of the International Space Station would appear much slower than this" — it's a time-lapse video, after all — "but still." The amount of humbling and inspiring perspective this video crams into one minute is more than many people experience in a lifetime.[/skipwords]
Here's the original version, sans music: