Florida: State at night seen from space (PHOTO).

Florida, From Space  

Florida, From Space  

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 18 2014 11:30 AM

Peninsular

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

I love photos of the Earth taken from space; our deserts, oceans, islands, volcanoes, farmland, forests …  all of it.

But there’s something special about seeing something recognizable, even iconic, from space. Perhaps we’re used to seeing such things on maps, but a photo of it adds the dimension of reality.

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I’m not sure. But no matter why, it’s hard to deny this is just straight-up cool:

Florida
Florida, from space, taken on Oct. 13, 2014. Click to Sarasotenate.

Photo by NASA

I’ve spent a lot of time on this peninsula; family vacations when I was younger, visiting friends when I was older, watching the odd rocket launch or three. My folks lived there for many years, so seeing this from space reminds me of combing beaches for shark teeth when my daughter was little, getting sunburned like an idiot despite slathering on lotion, sweating maniacally in March.

At night, from space, the outline of Florida makes it so obvious (like Italy; perhaps peninsulae are easier to recognize). The lights of the city are both lovely to see and appalling to seriously consider; the light pollution is overwhelming, ironically drowning out everything in the night sky except for the few brightest objects … like the International Space Station passing overhead, from where this photo was taken.

Our technology has made it possible to go up and look down, but much harder to stay down and look up. If there is some sort of allegorical conclusion to be drawn here, well, I’ll leave it for you to consider.