Why Can We See a Yellow Glow Surrounding the Earth In Space

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You can see this yellow layer in the atmosphere in images taken from space, it’s quite easy to catch when the skies are dark and the camera exposures are long enough. The glow comes from atomic sodium being excited and then re-emitting light in the 589 nanometer range, it’s a colour we’re familiar with becuase low pressure sodium lights are still commonly used for street lighting due to Sodium’s efficiency.

  1. Lost Galaxy Entertainment

    Easy: a kerbal is plotting a manoeuvre node

    I wonder why we can’t se apogee and perigee markers, or even the current orbit…

  2. Christopher Hill

    Hey Scott the Scot Thank you ! The enlightenment continues.

  3. stuart mcmahon

    It’s the lingering stench of BS that the flat earthers come up with..

  4. psmirage

    THANK YOU for filling in a gap in my understanding! I knew Astronomers used lasers to create a reference “star” to measure atmospheric distortion and counter it with adaptive optics, but I didn’t know how shining a laser upwards would me measured back on the ground. Awesome!

  5. Keith Elkins

    Yourvideo images are amazing. that rock launch was amazing to watch.

  6. firefly4f4

    Watch out, we’ve got one bad dude right here! :)

  7. MixsMasher

    4:02 he almost said calendar instead of Canada lol I used to call it calendar😂😂😂😂😂

  8. Peter Stimpel

    Me, thinking about pimping my 8″ Newton…budget needed ;)

  9. Mash Mash Mash

    Scott, align your cam so that it faces your face directly instead of slope up. We’ll have more comfortable view then

  10. chitra jaikumar

    I was 5 to view!!

  11. Ottee2

    Never heard of this sodium layer before today.

  12. GURken

    i get it, to finally capture uranus on my $50 telescope i must tape some laser pointers to it

  13. Joseph Kane

    I am shocked to see those technicians not wearing protective gear near the open source of Mercury Vapor!

  14. Bill Carson

    And I thought it was from venting all those farts in space from space suites and craft…

  15. Elopeous

    I always thought it was the atmosphere refraction off the sunlight/earth based light or a form of radiation effect

  16. Picksalot

    That was absolutely fascinating! More videos like that would be a nice addition to your Channel. I’d never heard of a mercury mirror before. Very cool. Thanks

  17. Buzzmas

    You should do a “A Trip To The Moon” movie review

  18. Mark Smith

    Without a doubt the best content i have seen. Always come away having learnt something. Excellent work.

  19. Tom Tucker

    Cool, love to find out something new each day – sometime I wish that my interest had been astronomy instead of biology and madicine! Need aboutr 3 more lifetimes to learn what I want to know!!

  20. Darksunrise

    So THIS is why everyone’s being so salty…

  21. shady 1

    That is the coolest thing ever to see a launch from space

  22. Nicolás Táppero

    Went to Wikipedia to learn more about Scott Manley, pretty sure he worked at a university, or rocket company.
    And then imagine my surprise when I see he works at the same company as my wife!

    That’s cool :)

  23. Michael Pennington

    Thank you. I have encountered any number of explanations as to the purpose of the observatory lasers but none ever bothered to explain how they achieved their objective.

  24. Kevin White

    “twinkled to death” – new Goth/My Little Pony tribute band name.

  25. Chuko Kpolugbo

    I really dig Scott’s pronunciation of “meh-rur”

  26. Thomas Scott

    I’ll never understand why flat-earthers are so convinced we’re making all this up as we go.

  27. Արամ Քերոբյան

    Not first, but my name starts with an A, so first

  28. Soooby Rooo

    Thank you for explaining that! After all the astronomy classes I have had and watching meteorology and all the space shows nobody ever explained the sodium layer in my attempts to find out what there is to know about the upper atmosphere glow. I ended up thinking it was pollution and nobody wanted to talk about it. I’m really glad it’s a natural phenomenon thank you :-)

  29. Michael Bishop

    Would it be safe to assume that the largest telescopes all have this equipment to correct for atmospheric distortion?

  30. The Random Tube

    The earth just glows because it’s our golden charm!❤️🔥

  31. GeFlixes

    “Twinkled to Death”
    And Dumbledore found the Power That He Knows Not.

  32. Peter Pike

    Wait, you can see that from space?

    Well, time to find a new planet…

  33. Sun Bingfa

    Wow. Never knew this. I thought it was faint aurora.

  34. Louis Mamakos

    Years ago, I was in San Jose for a business trip, and ended up staying over the weekend for some meetings the next week. I took a drive east into the mountains to visit the Lick Observatory and took the usual tour. I asked one of the grad student minions stuck running the public tours some question he didn’t know the answer to, and got to speak to one of the staff there that’d been around for quite a while. I got the extra special tour, including looking through the 36″ Lick refractor (which by modern standards, has rather shitty optics and isn’t very well color corrected as compared to my Astro-Physics 155EDF aprochomatic triplet refractor.. but I digress.) The other big difference is the pier in my observatory doesn’t have the remains of James Lick buried beneath it. That’s gotta be a creepy thought for those long dark nights taking images on glass plates, while resetting the clock work drive of the telescope. More work for the grad students, I suppose, even back in the day..

    So I got to visit inside the dome with the large cassegrain scope outfitted with the adaptive optics set-up, including the big-ass laser on the side of the truss-tube assembly of the scope. He was telling the story about how that was first conceived and installed. You’d think finding a high-power laser for this application might be difficult… unless you remember that also in the UC system is a DoE lab, Lawrence Berkeley Labs where they happen to know more than a few things about building big honking lasers. Fun stuff.

    I hope they survive the fires in the area. If you’re in the neighborhood and have astronomy proclivities, check out the schedule for their public tours.

  35. Kriston Ramdass

    Wow this honestly all looks so unreal, amazing footage and explanation!

  36. BPNave

    Gigantic multi-dimensional planet destroyer: “yum”

  37. carl brown

    Often wondered why it was called the Ionosphere.!!

  38. Skuta Daniel Viorel

    00:54 is that the soyuz’s second stage burning up in the atmosphere?

  39. Paul Haynes

    And Scott catches me out once again – saw the notification and thought, “Aha, I know what this will be about, water on the moon!”

  40. Penny Lane

    Fun fact, “Twinkled to Death” is also the name of my collection of children’s death metal songs!

  41. Dr. Feelicks

    Something you thought we should know, beautiful stuff, thank you.

  42. Tetsujin

    6:15 No! Alderaan is a peaceful world! We have no weapons! You can’t possibly–!

  43. Milyargh

    How can one fit so much cool information in just 7 minutes of easily digestible video?

  44. FesixGermany

    3:25 sooooo beautiful! Hope to see some aurora in person some day…

  45. spoonikle

    I dont remember seeing this layer is KSP. Fake news

  46. Adam Reynolds

    That first shot of the soyuz coming up from earth was the coolest thing ive ever seen!

  47. Traction System

    It’s the Vogon demolition ships. Our days are numbered.

  48. Gordon Stewart

    Fascinating! So many amazing concepts concisely conveyed, THANKS Scott!

  49. Stanley Cland

    Does anyone know if someone made a repeating loop of that first clip, with the yellow layer and the ISS circling the earth? That with some good lofi would have the best vibes

  50. ThePrefect

    Scott’s talking, I’m listening… then the internal voice screaming “DEATH STAR!” took over for a bit.

  51. dellpacker

    28 seconds ago and 2 dislikes already wow

  52. Jibba Jabba

    …and there was simple me thinking the yellow smog, was err, smog…

  53. Jumpcut Jimmy

    It’s cosmic pollen.
    The space bees will be along shortly.

  54. Pronto

    That Soyuz launch footage was amazing.

  55. Tubluer

    It’s a little weird to hear Scott Manley talking about that liquid mercury scope when I can see the building that houses it from my front window.

  56. Nicholas Babusis

    1:05 looks like the stars are lingering a bit before disappearing behind the earth, maybe because of atmospheric lensing.

  57. Mark Midwest

    The images in this video make it one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring videos on Youtube, or anywhere else.

  58. John Knapp

    Watching the Soyuz launch from space has got to be one coolest things you can see. And seeing the 2nd stage fall back to earth and burnup is neat also.

  59. Ray Mobula

    It is “The Dome” 😅

  60. Danny D

    I was wondering that just now when I saw that video on Reddit lol, great timing!

  61. Alain Martel

    The atmosphere, the worst part of the optics of any ground based telescope.

  62. Rover 6428

    Oh I always wondered about that thing too! Thanks

  63. MrCoreForce

    6:13 Death Star cannon version 0.1a

  64. Dean Su

    I love the fact that the only thing you can see at night is the glow of sodium lamps and the sodium layer!

  65. Nicholas Nelson

    This is awesome. This is so awesome. One of those aha moments.

  66. ProTM Custmzir

    *Flat earthers just left the chat*

  67. Flying Skyward

    Does this mean very early earth had a much brighter glow from the constant rain of meteors?

  68. Zach Cortese

    Im getting ready to hear NASAs moon announcement at 4pm GMT!

  69. Vaibhav Bhaskar

    What spacecraft is this footage taken from? Or is it just a render?

  70. Tony Lambregts

    That was a really interesting video. I knew about artificial reference stars but not about the sodium layer. Thanks for explaining it.

  71. Yellow King

    We’ve been occupying space for as long as we’ve occupied Afghanistan.

  72. Dead Baron

    For some reason “Continuous occupation of space” sounds like we’re combating Space Insurgencies.

  73. Gentry Walker

    One of my favorite parts of that timelapse sequence at the beginning is that you can see the background stars “squishing” into the ground because of refraction.

  74. Michael D

    “Twinkled to Death” would be a great band name.

  75. VictorandHannah Weston

    Thank you for making science come alive for the average layperson.

  76. Érico N.

    I would never imagined that’s how they do it. Thanks Scott.

  77. Vovacat17 Владимир Кузнец

    I always kinda thought that was our light pollution refracted in some wierd way. That’s kinda how the starless clear sky looks above big cities.

  78. Lorenzo Pagani

    It glows yellow cause Earth has organic life and that makes it a rare drop in the universe loot table

  79. Dipak Ahir

    Clouds looks like Albert Einstein

  80. Bill Kerr

    Ah Ha! I have always wondered at images of large telescopes firing lasers at the sky.
    Thanks, Scott!

  81. Stephen Bernsee

    Came for interest in a quirky part of the atmosphere, left with a general understanding of how laser assisted adaptic optics work in terrestrial telescopes. Great content!

  82. 100tungamer

    My dad always told me, never eat the yellow glow

  83. Enceos

    That Soyuz launch moment was so cool!

  84. Carpe Mkarzi

    That’s our threat level for incoming aliens, currently at “caution”.

    Great video as always.

  85. KerbalSpaceHD

    it’s the dome silly… just ask a flat earther they’ll let you know being the highest of intellectual minds known today

  86. Eugene Bebs

    The shirt reads “bad dude” – Finally, we have found the mythical Corn Pop

  87. Diggnuts

    6:19 Well, there goes Alderaan!

  88. Don Johnson

    I think the most amazing fact about adaptive optics is that they actually allow a number of ground-based telescopes to take sharper images than the Hubble, due to the much larger mirrors in the ground telescopes combined with adaptive optics. Of course space is stil the place for IR and UV observations.

  89. Brian

    Interesting stuff. My boss used to work with some guys who were part of the US “Star Wars” space defense initiative. One of the big problems with trying to use directed energy weapons from space was the atmospheric distortion of the directed energy beam. He said they used a low powered pilot beam to first get a measurement of the distortion along a given path and then would deform the high power beam optics to compensate. I believe this was in the early 90s.

  90. Sean Neal

    I need a whole video about adaptive optics now. That was the most interesting part!

  91. Warped Perception

    That Lake Michigan shot was amazing! , if you pause with the lake in the middle of the screen it appears as if it’s still rotating and to see how the disposed rocket falls back to earth and heats up as it hits the layers of the atmosphere was mesmerizing!

  92. Stefano Linguanotto

    0:55 “but then, something else appears!”. Me: “Yes! The Soyuz’s boosters falling!”

  93. RocketSurgeon

    It’s clearly astronaut.. gaseous emissions. Like the saying goes; he who filmed it, dealt it.

  94. CeeJay01

    “Too high for balloons and too low for space”. I heard a talk from an atmospheric scientist who described that region as the “fundopause” !

  95. I like your name

    “Twinkled to death” is a phrase I didn’t think I’d ever hear in my life… Great book title

  96. Gene Cash

    So where the heck can I find that launch video in hi-res? That is absolutely fascinating.

  97. Daniel Wilson

    I love those long-exposure shots of the observatory’s reference star lasers. ‘Makes it look like a science fiction defensive laser emplacement shooting down enemy orbital drones or something.

  98. Seven Owls

    Pssst… the “L” fell off your shirt…

  99. Jonathan Mickelson

    Excellent explaination and content Scott… As always!

  100. Cody'sLab

    So if I launched a rocket using sodium as the fuel would it make that layer noticeably brighter as I add tons of sodium to it? 🤔

Comments are closed.