December 20, 2013
(14 June 2012) --- The Great Lakes in sunglint are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 31 crew member on the International Space Station. From the vantage point of the space station, crew members observe many spectacular phenomena including aurora, noctilucent clouds, airglow, and sunglint on Earth's water bodies. Sunglint is light reflected off of a water surface towards the observer such that it creates the appearance of a mirror-like surface. If the viewing and lighting conditions are ideal, that mirror-like surface can extend over very large areas, such as the entire surface of Lake Ontario (approximately 18,960 square kilometers). This photograph was taken while the space station was located over a point to the southeast of Nova Scotia (approximately 1,200 kilometers ground distance from the center point of the image). Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, and numerous other bodies of water appear brilliantly lit by sunglint. To the west, Lake Erie is also highlighted by sunglint, but less light is being reflected back towards the observer resulting in a duller appearance. Much of central Canada is obscured by extensive cloud cover in the image, whereas a smaller grouping of clouds obscures the Appalachian range and Pennsylvania (lower left). The blue envelope of Earth's atmosphere is visible above the curved limb, or horizon line that extends across the upper third of the image. Such panoramic views of the planet are readily taken through space station viewing ports with handheld digital cameras which allow the crew to take advantage of the full range of viewing angles.
Topics: Sunglint, Meteorology, Atmospheric sciences, Atmosphere of Earth, Airglow, Noctilucent cloud, Lake, Cloud, Observational astronomy