Just for fun, here are some recent images of the Earth, as seen from above. Shot from as close as a few hundred feet away, or as far as a million miles, the variety and beauty of our home planet depicted in these photos continues to amaze.
A hot-air balloon flies over fields on the outskirts of Minsk on July 18, 2015, during the Second International Aeronautics Championship. About 70 pilots from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova and New Zealand took part in the championship.
Sergei Gapon / AFP / Getty
Earth, as seen from a million miles away, on July 6, 2015. A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth. This color image of Earth was taken by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope. The image shows North and Central America. Once the instrument begins regular data acquisition, EPIC will provide a daily series of Earth images, allowing—for the first time—study of daily variations over the entire globe. These images, available 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired, will be posted to a dedicated web page by September 2015. The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar-wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.
The Arc de Triomphe, at the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, also known as the Place de l'Etoile, amid rooftops of residential buildings in Paris, France, on July 14, 2015.
Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
A hazy sky above a river in Peru's Amazon region of Loreto on September 29, 2014.
Enrique Castro-Mendivil / Reuters
The Frioul Islands in the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille, France, on June 30, 2015.
Boris Horvat / Reuters
The north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, surrounded by fog, in San Francisco, California, on September 8, 2013.
Justin Sullivan / Getty
Flower fields near the Keukenhof park, also known as the Garden of Europe, in Lisse, Netherlands, on April 15, 2015.
Yves Herman / Reuters
A view from the International Space Station above the Gulf of Mexico on July 12, 2015. The lights of Houston, Texas, are prominent on the left side, with New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Mississippi River delta at center. The many lights in the gulf are offshore oil rigs and ships.
Irrigated citrus trees sit surrounded by bone-dry land near Westmorland, California, on May 1, 2015. The Imperial Valley’s half-million acres of verdant fields end abruptly in pale dirt that gets three inches of rain annually on average.
Gregory Bull / AP
Houses in Bristol, southern England, photographed on August 7, 2014.
Neil Hall / Reuters
Malaspina Glacier in southeastern Alaska, the world’s largest piedmont glacier, or valley glacier that spreads and flattens out onto a plain. At upper right is the tidewater Hubbard Glacier. This image was acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) aboard Landsat 8 on July 22, 2014.
NASA Earth Observatory
An estimated 35,000 walruses are pictured are pictured hauled out on a beach near the village of Point Lay, Alaska, 700 miles northwest of Anchorage, in this photo taken in September of 2014. According to scientists, the congregation of Pacific walruses—one of the largest ever—was prompted by a lack of sea ice, which the walruses use to rest in Arctic waters.
Corey Accardo / NOAA / Reuters
The sun sets above Ipanema Beach on February 24, 2015, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mario Tama / Getty
On May 20, 2015, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this view of several cloud vortices swirling downwind of the Canary Islands and Madeira.
NASA Earth Observatory
A mural made of rice plants is seen at a paddy field in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, on June 22, 2015. The mural is one of the 13 created by the local government as tourist attractions.
Sheng Li / Reuters
Iguazu Falls in the Argentinian northwest province of Misiones on June 9, 2014. Authorities were forced to close down the iconic Iguazu National Park after heavy rainfall in the region caused the Parana, the river feeding into the falls, to flood. The tourist walkways and viewpoints that normally give way to breathtaking view of the falls were almost completely submerged in water.
Raul Puentes / Reuters
An illuminated cityscape of Chicago at night on May 25, 2015.
Kiichiro Sato / AP
The bent pyramid of Dahshur, a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile river just south of Cairo, photographed on April 19, 2015.
Patrick Baz / AFP / Getty
Two men paddle in a canoe on a flooded road in Trysil, southeast Norway, on May 26, 2014. Rain and melted snow had increased the water level in the river Trysilelva.
Heiko Junge / NTB Scanpix / Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters
Kathmandu city, as seen from a helicopter above Nepal on April 29, 2015.
Manish Swarup / AP
The statue of Mother Homeland at the Mamayev Kurgan (Mamayev Hill) World War II memorial complex in the city of Volgograd, Russia, on July 15, 2015.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Illegally built slums on the border of the polluted water of Billings reservoir in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 12, 2015.
Paulo Whitaker / Reuters
The construction site of Shanghai Disneyland in China on July 14, 2015. The $5.5 billion theme park, which Disney is developing in partnership with China's state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group, will transport visitors to six themed “worlds” and offer other attractions based on Star Wars and Marvel Comics characters.
The brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich (SQM) lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat, the world's second largest salt flat and the largest lithium deposit currently in production, with over a quarter of the world's known reserves, in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, on January 10, 2013.
Ivan Alvarado / Reuters
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of southern Scandinavia just before midnight on April 3, 2015. Prominent features include a green aurora to the north, the blackness of the Baltic Sea (lower right), and clouds (top right) and snow (in Norway) illuminated by the full Moon. City lights clearly show the coastline of the Skagerrak and Kattegat seaway that separates Denmark from its neighbors to the north and leads into the Baltic Sea. The largest light clusters on the seaway are the capital cities of Oslo and Copenhagen. Cities facing the Baltic are the Polish port of Gdansk and the Swedish capital, Stockholm. Smaller cities in northern Germany also trace the Baltic coastline (lower right).
NASA Earth Observatory
Railroad tracks at the Maschen classification yard in Seevetal, Germany, on May 9, 2015.
Christian Charisius / AFP / Getty
A replica of the Eiffel Tower and residential buildings at the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, on April 8, 2015.
Houses outside the town of Diffa, Niger, on March 21, 2015.
Joe Penney / Reuters
Sailboats in the water of Lake Starnberg, where the water was covered with pollen, near Starnberg, Germany, on May 8, 2015.
Peter Kneffel / AFP / Getty
Steam and ash rise from Villarrica Volcano, south of Santiago, Chile, on March 18, 2015.
Homes with swimming pools in a desert in the Palm Springs area of California on April 13, 2015.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
A rapeseed field stands in full bloom near Ebenhausen, Germany, on May 8, 2015.
Peter Kneffel / AFP / Getty
Observing the Earth from orbit, a view of central Africa seen between the socked feet of an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on July 9, 2015.