Amazing airglow over Atacama Desert

The sun’s ultraviolet radiation excites atoms some 50 miles (80 km) or more high in Earth’s atmosphere. When the atoms release the energy, the atmosphere glows.

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View larger. | Photo posted to EarthSky Facebook by Yuri Beletsky in Chile. Visit Yuri Beletsky Nightscapes.

Yuri Beletsky wrote on December 19, 2015, a few nights after the peak of this year’s Geminid meteor shower:

We just witnessed an amazing airglow here in Atacama desert … It was so intense that one couldn’t really see many stars close to the horizon. The sky was literally shining. Unfortunately, one can’t see the colors of airglow with the eye. It’s still much less intense then an aurora. But a sensitive digital camera is able to capture the phenomenon in its glory.

I hope you’ll enjoy the view!

Thank you, Yuri!

Read more about what causes airglow

Bottom line: Airglow around mid-December 2015, over the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Deborah Byrd