Looking down at Earth from space reveals incredible sights that give us perspective on our planet.
From glowing cities to massive landmarks, there are many amazing things visible from orbit.
In this post, we’ll highlight 10 unbelievable things you can see from space that will blow your mind.
1. The Great Wall of China
One of the most iconic human-made structures, the Great Wall of China is over 13,000 miles long. From space, portions of the wall look like a giant dragon winding its way over the landscape. Seeing the enormity of the Great Wall from orbit gives perspective on the vast scale of this ancient wonder.
2. The Great Pyramids of Giza
The only remaining Ancient Wonder of the World, the pyramids at Giza are an incredible sight from space. Their precise geometry and massive scale stand out against the desert. Getting a bird’s eye view of these ancient structures gives you a renewed appreciation for the astronomical precision and engineering used to construct them thousands of years ago. Seeing the pyramids from orbit makes you reflect on how advanced and organized ancient societies were.
3. The Grand Canyon
Carved out over millions of years by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is an unmistakable geological wonder visible from space. Seeing it from above gives you a true sense of its vast size and depth. Over a mile deep and 18 miles wide, this massive natural canyon looks like a giant scar cutting through the Arizona desert.
Getting a bird’s eye view of the colorful, layered rock walls winding through the landscape puts into perspective how this natural wonder was formed over geological timescales. It’s humbling to see the tiny Colorado River flowing through the canyon it carved out over millions of years. From orbit, you can fully appreciate the Grand Canyon’s grandeur.
4. The Amazon River
The Amazon River shows up vividly from space as a winding aquatic highway through the jungle. Seeing the river system from above gives you a sense of its massive scale and intricacy as it flows through the rainforest. Over 4,000 miles long and draining an area nearly the size of the contiguous United States, the mighty Amazon is the largest river by discharge volume.
Looking down on its tributaries spreading like veins through the dense foliage highlights the Amazon’s critical transportation role for communities scattered across the region. From this view, you can also see how the river shapes the rainforest’s ecology. The striking contrast between the winding waterway and the green carpet of the canopy really stands out. The view from space gives you a new appreciation of the Amazon River’s sheer size and vital importance.
5. The Great Barrier Reef
Looking down on the Great Barrier Reef from space reveals a massive underwater city teeming with life. Over 1,400 miles long, this vibrant coral network is the only living structure visible from above the earth’s surface. From orbit, the colors and textures of the reef stand out brilliantly against the blue of the surrounding ocean. You can see the complex branching patterns of coral formations and the contrasting sand channels winding between them.
The scale is awe-inspiring. The reef contains over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands located off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea. Seeing the entire vibrant ecosystem from above gives you a new appreciation of its grandeur and interconnectedness. The view from space highlights the need to protect this natural wonder for future generations.
6. Lightning Storms
Looking down at the earth from space allows you to witness the raw power of nature on full display. Massive lightning storms light up the skies and span hundreds of miles across the planet’s surface. From orbit, you can see lightning bolts spidering through thick clouds in bright, snaking tendrils of electricity.
Entire weather systems become visible, with flashes of light illuminating circular storm fronts sweeping across oceans and continents. The scale of these lightning displays is humbling, as hundreds of strikes per minute illuminate the skies in brilliant bursts. Seeing firsthand the intensity and reach of these electric discharges gives you a renewed respect for the forces of nature. Witnessing these powerful storms from space highlights nature’s untamed energy.
7. The Northern Lights
One of the most breathtaking sights visible from space is the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. As the space station orbits the Earth close to the poles, astronauts can look down and see these shimmering, colorful lights illuminating the atmosphere. From above, the scale and complexity of the northern lights become fully visible, as great shifting veils of green, purple, red, and blue light span hundreds of miles.
Unlike viewing them from the ground, from space you can see the entire shape and extent of the auroral oval as it dynamically changes and morphs. Science still does not fully understand what causes this atmospheric phenomenon, so viewing it from orbit provides valuable insights. Seeing the northern lights from space allows you to appreciate nature’s light show in all its glory fully.
8. Major Cities at Night
Looking down at Earth at night unveils a patchwork of light that outlines the major cities across the globe. From the space station, astronauts can see familiar urban centers illuminated – the bright clusters and grids of light associated with places like New York, London, and Tokyo. The scale of these cities becomes apparent from orbit, as the webs of light span far beyond what you would expect.
You can even see the unique signatures of different cities, with some known for their orderly street grids, while places like Paris show grand boulevards radiating from central points. Viewing major cities at night from the unique vantage point of space gives you an appreciation for humanity’s footprint on the planet.
9. The International Space Station
The International Space Station is one of the most incredible things visible from space. This football field-sized orbital laboratory can be seen passing overhead from Earth a few times a day. From the perspective of the space station’s residents, our planet is a constant presence.
The station orbits Earth every 90 minutes at over 17,000 mph, giving astronauts an unbeatable view of their home planet. One of the main goals of the space station is to learn how humans can live and work in space for long periods, knowledge that will be essential for future manned missions deeper into the solar system. Looking down on this epic structure as it orbits our planet is a reminder of what we can accomplish when we work together.
10. The Moon
The Moon is the most readily visible celestial body from Earth besides the Sun. Looking up at the night sky, this gray, cratered sphere is unmistakable. The Moon goes through phases as it orbits Earth, changing the amount we can see illuminated by the Sun. A full moon lights up the night with its reflected sunlight. When the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow, we get a lunar eclipse, turning the Moon reddish-orange.
From space, astronauts always have the Moon in sight, a constant companion circling Earth about every 28 days. Seeing the Moon from space emphasizes its vast size – over 2,000 miles in diameter. But it also reveals the Moon’s pockmarked surface in intricate detail, cratered records of past impacts. The Moon has inspired wonder throughout human history. Seeing it from space serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come in understanding our nearest neighbor.
What Do Astronauts See in Space?
Astronauts can see stars, planets, galaxies, and other celestial objects when looking out into space from the International Space Station or spacecraft. The views are spectacular, with Earth, the moon, and the sun visible during orbits.
Can You See the World From Space?
Yes, astronauts in low Earth orbit can see the entire planet beneath them. Iconic photos of Earth known as the “Blue Marble” show colorful continents, blue oceans, and swirling white clouds as seen from space.
What Can Be Seen From the Moon?
From the surface of the moon, astronauts can see Earth rising and setting on the lunar horizon. The moon lacks an atmosphere, so the sky remains black even during the day, allowing stars to be visible.
What Is One Natural Occurrence That Is Visible From Space?
One awe-inspiring natural event visible from space is the aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights. These colorful dancing lights in the upper atmosphere can be seen from the International Space Station when orbiting near the poles.
The views of Earth and outer space from orbit are truly breathtaking. Astronauts can see stars, planets, and Earth’s surface with clarity impossible from the ground. Unique sights like the northern lights, total solar eclipses, and city lights illuminating the darkness provide perspective on nature’s grandeur and humanity’s presence. What you can see from space is an unforgettable vision showcasing the wonders of our planet and universe.