Last update: September 20th, 2019 at 10:14 am
The easily recognized boot of Italy, with Sicily at its toe, is spread across this panorama taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. On a clear night looking east, the pattern of night lights shows populations concentrated mainly along the coastlines, but also in the Po River Valley of northern Italy.
Some of the brightest clusters of lights are Rome and nearby Naples, with island cities of Cagliari on Sardinia and Catania on Sicily—now well-known as the hometown of European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.The small, dark, circular patch dangerously close to Catania marks the unpopulated slopes of the active volcano Etna. Hazy lights, as over the Po valley and Rome, probably indicate thin clouds above. The island of Malta appears at the lower right.
The airglow line is vivid in this night shot.
A more detailed image of the toe and heel of Italy at night can be viewed here. A daytime image of Etna erupting ash and steam can be viewed here.