Picture of the Day: Rays of Sunlight From Above

By Rebecca J. Rosen

6312467703_e909f1aa40_z.jpg

This image features the beams of light, often found in photographs, paintings, and other art, known as crepuscular rays. This time, though, they're seen from an unusual vantage point -- that of the International Space Station, in orbit around the Earth. These rays -- called crepuscular because of their tendency to appear at dawn or dusk -- form when an obstruction, such as a cloud or a window screen, provides a shadow which outlines the rays, and particles in the air (such as airborne dust or water droplets) scatter the light not blocked. This particular image was taken on October 18, 2011, somewhere near the Indian subcontinent.

Image: NASA.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/11/picture-of-the-day-rays-of-sunlight-from-above/247999/