An incredible picture from the space station

Today’s photograph from NASA, taken from the International Space Station, is a joy to behold, particularly if you believe, as I do, that the wonder of flight is that it gives you an entirely fresh perspective on your place in relation to the world around you. We learned that when Apollo 8 made its first swing around the moon and gave us a chance to look at ourselves, and this photograph does the same thing.

It’s unusual to get so much of the United States in one picture.

If you click the image and look at the original — or just click here — you’ll probably find some amazing aspects of this photograph.

There are, for example, and incredible number of lights in the Gulf of Mexico. Just follow the lights of New Orleans. That’s Houston at the bottom left, and Beaumont, Texas; Lake Charles and Lafayette, Louisiana as you go to the right.

Just above Houston is Dallas Fort Worth, Oklahoma City on the edge of the frame and Tulsa to the right, Kansas City just above it and far to the top as the curvature of the earth begins to obscure things is Omaha and Des Moines, with the reflection of the lights of Chicago. If you squint, you can see the reflection of Minneapolis St. Paul, although in this photo, we are on the other side of the globe.

These are the sorts of pictures that reveal we are all so much closer to each other than we think.