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Auroras seen from space mystify and amaze (pictures)

Magical lights dance across Earth's atmosphere in this collection of images of auroras seen from the International Space Station and beyond.

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Amanda Kooser

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1 of 10 NASA

Astronaut sees an aurora

Auroras, also known as the northern lights or southern lights, are plenty dramatic when seen by someone standing on Earth, but they take on an otherworldly quality when seen from space.

Astronaut Scott Kelly is an avid user of social media and has shared several knockout images of auroras photographed from the International Space Station. This particular photo was taken in June, 2015.

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2 of 10 NASA

Indian Ocean aurora

Astronauts on the International Space Station in 2011 saw this unusual aurora as the station crossed over the Indian Ocean. "While aurora are often seen near the poles, this aurora appeared at lower latitudes due to a geomagnetic storm," NASA notes.

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Aurora as a veil

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly described this image on Twitter as an aurora "trailing a colorful veil over Earth." It was taken in the morning on August 15 and shows the green glow of an aurora tracing the curvature of the Earth. The layers of planet, light, stars and space station combine for a sensational image.

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ISS poses with an aurora

This isn't science fiction. This is real. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, currently aboard the International Space Station for a year-long mission, took this photo on June 22. Parts of the station are visible, along with lights on the Earth's surface and a thin glow from the aurora along the horizon.

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ISS Expedition 32 sees the lights

The crew of Expedition 32 aboard the International Space Station in 2012 looked down on Earth and saw these swirling green southern lights. The station was about 240 miles above the planet's surface. A robot arm attached to the ISS appears in the center of the image.

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Aurora over North America

Astronaut Reid Wiseman saw this dramatic aurora over North America from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station in 2014. A piece of the space station sits in the foreground, lending some perspective to what an astronaut sees when looking down at Earth.

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7 of 10 NASA/Suomi NPP

Aurora borealis at night

This NASA image may not be as colorful as most aurora borealis shots, but it has an interesting back story. It was taken by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite in 2012 several days after a coronal mass ejection from the sun caused a spectacular aurora on Earth.

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Aurora on the horizon

This impressive image of an aurora curving along the Earth's horizon looks like an art piece. It was seen from the International Space Station in 2012. The lights on the surface are from Ireland and the United Kingdom. The white and blue glow to the right side is the sunrise.

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9 of 10 NASA/STS-135 crew

Space shuttle and an aurora

The space shuttle Atlantis gets into the photo with an aurora as seen from the International Space Station in 2011. It was the shuttle's final resupply mission to the station before being retired.

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10 of 10 NASA/Christopher Perry

Rocket rocks through an aurora

Here's a bonus image taken on Earth showing a NASA sounding rocket flying into an aurora after launch. This happened in the early morning of March 3, 2014, and was taken in Alaska. The rocket's trail combined with the green glow of aurora light makes for a remarkable photograph.

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