You Haven't Seen Clouds Until You've Seen This View From the ISS

Treat yourself to a glorious skyscape showing wild columns of clouds.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This wild oblique view of clouds over the Atlantic Ocean comes from a camera on the International Space Station.


I'm used to seeing clouds from down on the ground on Earth, and I know what they look like from an airplane window. But there's a striking majesty to seeing massive clouds from the perspective of the International Space Station. It's the kind of view that taps on your soul.

On Monday, NASA's Earth Observatory shared a stunning cloudscape image snapped by the External High-Definition Camera (EHDC) on the International Space Station in November 2021. The station was over the Atlantic Ocean at the time and caught sight of some otherworldly formations.

The EHDC captured a slanted look at the clouds, including some towering cumulus formations (the ones that look like chunky mushroom stalks) and an anvil cloud (the wide, flat-topped cloud near the center of the image). "These flat cloud surfaces develop when rising air reaches a level in the atmosphere where it is prevented from rising further (known as an inversion layer)," wrote Justin Wilkinson of Texas State University. Think of it as like dropping pancake batter in reverse. The cloud can't go up, so it spreads out.

A dark expanse of space caps the image. The shimmering ocean below is lit up by dawn sunlight, creating a visual poem that's an ode to space, water, sky and weather. Enjoy.