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Nile seen from space at night is a glittering golden fissure

The Earth looks like a strange sci-fi planet when NASA astronaut Scott Kelly looks down and sees the Nile cutting across the faraway landscape.

The views from the International Space Station are out of our world. Astronauts aboard the orbiting science lab are constantly snapping stunning shots and sharing them on social media. All of them are fascinating, but sometimes an extra-special image comes along. Astronaut Scott Kelly posted a photo of the Nile at night to Twitter on July 26, and it's a beauty.

The dark image shows the curve of the Earth lit up by a jagged gold trail of river, lights glittering against a shadowy background. "The #Nile at night is like a jewel," writes Kelly in the tweet.

The ethereal glow along the river comes from the high population concentration in communities along the banks. The clusters of lights make it easy to see where people congregate.

Nighttime photos of Earth taken from space give us an intriguing perspective on activities on the planet's surface. ISS astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shared an image of fishing boats floating like a small galaxy against a dark sea during her stint in space earlier this year.

Scott Kelly is twin brother to fellow astronaut Mark Kelly, who is now retired. Scott is about four months into a year-long stay on the space station. NASA is comparing data collected from Scott in space and Mark back on Earth to see how the twins' bodies react in different environments.