Kamchatka at Night

Kamchatka at Night

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured this photo during a clear night over Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. In this wintertime scene, snowy, moonlit mountains and lights from towns highlight geographic features in the sparsely populated region. At night, Kamchatka’s towns are easily identified from above by their illumination. By day, towns are hardly visible against the mountainous terrain.

Settlements tend to be located near the coast or along rivers in the interior. Toward the center of the peninsula, lights from small towns form a dotted line along the Kamchatka River. Near the coast, the brightest cluster of light is from Petropavlovsk (also called Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky), the only large urban area in Kamchatka.

Adjacent to Petropavlovsk are Kamchatka’s most active volcanoes: Koryaksky and Avachinsky. Twenty-nine active volcanoes line Kamchatka’s eastern shore, and many more make up the Kuril Islands. The northeastern extent of this island chain, which stretches southwest toward Japan, is visible off the southern tip of the peninsula.

The mountain peaks appear brighter white than the river valleys, indicating that more snow was present at higher elevations at the time of this photo.

Astronaut photograph ISS070-E-51671 was acquired on December 31, 2023, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 24 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 70 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Andrea Wenzel/Jacobs-JETS II Contract at NASA-JSC.