Unless you are actively giving CPR to an accident victim at this very moment, drop whatever you are doing and watch this stunning, mind-blowing time lapse video of the Earth at night, taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station:
Holy. Haleakala. Make sure that's set to HD and make it full screen.
The video, taken by astronauts and edited by Michael König, was from a high-resolution camera with low-light abilities, so it can see faint sources of light. The footage was all taken from August to October 2011.
I'm so overwhelmed by the beauty and coolness of this video I'm not sure which part I like best! The cities streaming by underneath; the instantly recognizable outlines of familiar places like the Great Lakes or the boot of Italy; the incredible flickering thunderstorms -- giving you an understanding that there are always thousands of such storms all over the planet at any one time; the incredible 3D view of the green and red aurorae which you can actually see as towering structures dozens or even hundreds kilometers in height; the stars rising and setting and spinning over the horizon; the reflection of the Moon on the Earth below following along our point of view at 2:50 into the footage; or the thin glowing arc above the horizon: airglow, caused by molecules in the upper atmosphere slowly emitting light as they release energy accumulated during the day.
It's all fantastic.
There have been plenty of beautiful time lapse videos of the Earth from the ISS -- most notably, one from September -- but this sets a new standard. Not the least of which because it's so smooth; the sense of motion, the sense of flying, is overpowering. But the sheer magnificence of the entire video is simply incredible.
Credit: NASA, Michael König, who used photos from NASA's Gateway to Astronaut Photography of the Earth site.