NASA satellite sees beauty in a moonlit blizzard

Moonlight and clouds star in a NASA image of the big US blizzard showing the storm lit up from above and below.

The eastern US hosted quite a snowstorm this past weekend. Airports shut down. Flights were canceled. Roads were closed and public transportation halted. The storm even earned the nickname "Snowzilla."

While social-media outlets were flooded with photos from people on the ground sharing their snow creations, silent city streets and cars covered in white, astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted dramatic photos showing swirling clouds from his vantage point on board the International Space Station. NASA's Suomi NPP (National Polar-orbiting Partnership) satellite was also looking down from orbit for a completely different view of the proceedings.

NASA released an image taken by the satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Saturday. VIIRS data is normally used to study clouds, ocean color, surface temperatures and other indications of climate change. NASA says the image "was composed through the use of the VIIRS' day-night band,' which detects faint light signals such as city lights, moonlight, airglow, and auroras."

Blizzard

Moonlight shines down on a big blizzard.

NASA

The satellite image of the blizzard also happens to be beautiful. The otherworldly look of the clouds is due in part to a nearly full moon shining on them from above. City lights peek through from below.

The National Weather Service declared the storm over on Sunday for much of the East Coast, but only after reporting snowfall totals of up to 42 inches (107 centimeters) in some locations.

NASA has provided some stunning space-weather images in the past, including this look at a tornado-spewing storm from 2014. An astronaut on the space station turned out a real looker with a view of a typhoon eye from orbit last year. These photos are a reminder of the massive reach of major weather systems.

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