Photograph of a crescent Moon over a rainbow curved atmosphere.
Image Credit: NASA
Published: December 27, 2021

A waxing crescent moon is photographed from the International Space Station during an orbital sunset as the station flies 268 miles (431 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean, east of New Zealand.

We can see a sliver of the lit half of the Moon, while most of the near side of the Moon is facing away from the Sun and is in darkness. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it may look like this is a waning crescent, but note, this image is taken above the Southern Hemisphere.

Above the surface of the Earth, a brilliant sequence of colors roughly denotes several layers of the atmosphere. Deep oranges and yellows appear in the troposphere, which contains over 80 percent of the mass of the atmosphere and almost all of the water vapor, clouds, and precipitation. The pink to white region above the clouds appears to be the lower stratosphere; this atmospheric layer generally has few or no clouds. Above the stratosphere, blue layers likely mark the transition between the middle and upper atmosphere as it gradually fades into the blackness of outer space.

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