Imagine you had a window looking over our world.  What pictures would you take and what sights would you see?  Thanks to the astronauts onboard the International Space Station we can see the beauty of our Earth from the unique position of space.  This is a view the majority of us will never experience!  So I decided to hunt down the top 10 photos taken of the Earth from the International Space Station.  Hang onto your seats as we start the countdown…..


10 – The Moon


Image of Moon from ISS


There is only one word for this photo and that word is “Wow!”  High above the clouds we can see our satellite, the Moon.  It looks almost surreal, as if it’s floating in a sea of blue and white.  The Moon is approximately 384,400km from us with twelve astronauts having walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972.  They were part of the six Apollo missions which each landed two astronauts to walk on the moon’s surface.  Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were the first, and Eugene Cernan and Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt were the last.



9 – Great Barrier Reef


image of Great Barrier Reef


Located off the coast of Queensland in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef.  It is the world’s largest single structure which has been made by living organisms.  Astronauts onboard the ISS have been able to see this structure from space which is truly amazing!


8 – Las Vegas


image of Las Vegas


Las Vegas in the US state of Nevada is the most populous city in that state.  It is a city best known for its casinos and gambling.  It is also known as the city that never sleeps and from the image taken from the ISS at night it certainly lives up to its name!  This is an amazing image taken in the Mojave Desert that shows Las Vegas shining like a beacon and looking like a portal to another Universe!


7 – Juan de Nova

image of Isle de Nova


I think this looks a bit like a strange Jellyfish type creature.  But this is a tropical island in the Mozambique Chanel between Madagascar and the African mainland.  The population of this 4.4sq km island is made up of a small French military garrison and a few meteorologists and scientists.  What am amazing image to see above Earth’s atmosphere!  Would it make a nice holiday destination?


6 – Nile at Night

image of Nile at night


The bright lights almost look like a flower about to blossom.  I find this image particularly fascinating.  It shows how the people living in this part of the world have settled close to the River Nile.  The area around the Nile is small compared to the size of Egypt itself however this is where the concentration of people have distributed.  The brightest part that you will be able to identify in the photograph along the River Nile is Egypt’s capital Cairo.


5 – Italy at night and Mount Vesuvius


image of Italy at night


Another amazing image of our Earth from space which I think is one of the prettiest nighttime images.  Do you recognize the boot?  Of course it is Italy.  You can also see the lights of the many beautiful islands including Capri and Sicily.  The bay of Naples is also lit up; it is the brightest section on this photograph.  The amazing volcano Mount Vesuvius is also visible and stands out along the coast.  Below is a photograph from the ISS of this dormant volcano during the day!  If you are ever in Italy make the trip up Vesuvius, I can tell you from personal experience it is worth it.


image of Mt Vesuvius


4 – A Hurricane

image of Hurricane


This close-up view of the eye of Hurricane Isabel was taken by one of the Expedition 7 crewmembers onboard the ISS.  Look closely and you can see the spiral structure and even the eye of the hurricane.  At the time this photo was Isabel had reformed to a Category 5 storm, packing winds of 160 miles per hour.  Isabel was the deadliest and also the most costly hurricane in 2003.  North Carolina was hugely affected by this Hurricane where thousands of homes were damaged and destroyed.  The path of Isabel caused around 5.7 billion dollars of damage.  16 deaths in seven US states were caused by the Hurricane.  It is hoped that we can learn more about these natural occurrences from space.


3 – Australian Fires


image of Australian Fires

This image taken recently (Jan 2013) shows the Australian wildfires as seen from the ISS.  The fires were caused by soaring temperatures and swept through Tasmania and New South Wales.  Thousands of acres of forest and homes were destroyed.  Look closely and you can actually see the flames from orbit!  This can be quite a disturbing image, yet it shows how we can monitor events on Earth from above the Earth’s orbit.


2 – New Zealand

image of Work over NZ


I love this photograph!  It shows astronauts Robert L. Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang working to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and beginning to upgrade the power grid on December 12, 2006.  It really shows the wonderful colour and beauty of the world that we live on.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to perform a spacewalk above Earth?


1 – Ireland

image of Ireland at night



What better photograph to put in at number one than the place that we live!  As you can see Dublin, Cork and Belfast are prominent in this image.  Even at night you can also make out Lough Neagh.  So the next time you see the ISS coming across the sky just think that the astronauts onboard are looking right back down at us!

The ISS was launched in 1998 and in my opinion it still ranks as one of the most astounding feats of engineering accomplished by mankind.  It is about the size of a football field which orbits the planet at 17,500 miles per hour every 90 minutes.  As you can see the ISS has taken many beautiful images of Earth, these are just a few of them.  Do you have any favourites, if so we would love to hear them!  Just leave us a comment below!

(Article by Sinead McNicholl, Education Support Officer)


Yadav Bhandari · February 15, 2018 at 01:54

Very very amazing picture.awesome

Dr. Krishna Prasad Acharya · May 9, 2016 at 06:33

Very amazing, surreal and interesting pictures taken from ISS. I wish I could go to the ISS to see my country and beautiful earth. Could you please take a picture of my country Nepal with the Mount Everest and the Tibetian Plateau? I aspire to see my country in the picture photographed from the SPACE.

Patrick · February 28, 2015 at 20:20

Hi. Great pictures! I have a question though. Why is it that some pictures look so close to the planet, while others, such as the one of the Nile looks so much further away? For example, in the picture of the Nile, you can easily see almost half of the planet and it looks sort of farther away, while the picture of Ireland clearly looks much closer. Is this just the various setting of the camera doing this? I can’t think of any other reason.
Thanks again for the fantastic pics!

MARTAIN O FEARAIN · June 16, 2014 at 23:00

Just fan-tas-tic

Spencer · May 29, 2014 at 08:51

Really enjoyed the photos! There is a mistake in one of the descriptions, however. New York City is the most populous city in America, not Las Vegas. Las Vegas is the 30th in the nation.

    admin · May 29, 2014 at 11:49

    Thank you for both the kind words and letting us know about our mistake (which we’ve corrected).

Gearóid · April 3, 2013 at 08:59

Magnificent and breathtaking images Sinéad. I’m inspired to download all the relevant apps to my ipad. Le buíochas.

Nicola Hinds · March 5, 2013 at 15:54

These photos are amazing ! They show us how tiny and insignificant we are in a huge universe .Time to preserve it to the best of our abilities . And not a flag in sight !!

    Sinead McNicholl · March 5, 2013 at 16:47

    Hi Nicola,

    Thanks for your comment. It is so true that we live in a very small place, compared to the vastness of the Universe!


Tommy · March 5, 2013 at 13:52

Magnificent photos, just a pity you didn’t get a few of the Irish Government robbing us blind,,

    Sinead McNicholl · March 5, 2013 at 15:50

    Thanks for your comment Tommy, glad you enjoyed the photos!

Colin · March 4, 2013 at 21:44

Fanatastic Photos.. especially the astronauts at work with new zealand in the background, our home country pretty good too!!

    Sinead McNicholl · March 5, 2013 at 12:31

    Hi Colin,

    Thanks for your comment. It is amazing the view from space!


Vincent · March 4, 2013 at 15:00

Colin. This has been a wonderful experience. Thank you sincerely for sharing these magnificent pictures.

    Sinead McNicholl · March 5, 2013 at 12:28


    Thanks for your comment. I had lots of fun looking through all the wonderful ISS pictures. If you have Twitter you can keep up to date with all the current pictures by following the astronauts on the ISS!


Tracey Monaghan · March 4, 2013 at 14:39

The photos from the ISS are amazing. Just love the photo of Ireland, amazing to see our lovley country. I use the app ‘star walk’ on my iPad to check where the ISS is every night. Love to get a clear night, gives me the opportunity to see it passing. Love the picture, they are incredible. Thank you


    Sinead McNicholl · March 5, 2013 at 12:26

    Hi Tracey,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Another great website to use is where you can put put in your location and it gives you the exact time the ISS will appear if its visible in the night sky! Really cool website.


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