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16 Awesome Photos of Chicago from Space

NASA maintains a giant database of Chicagoland photos dating back to 1973. You can spend hours looking through them all—we picked 16 of our favorites.

After seeing astronaut Chris Hadfield’s picture of Chicago from space earlier today, I went browsing around to see what else I could find—other angles, other seasons, other parts of Chicagoland.

It turns out NASA’s Earth Observation Team maintains a massive database of photos, “The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth,” with hundreds of Chicago alone—going back to 1973, when the U.S.’s first space station, Skylab, launched. I browsed the photos for hours.

Some are spectacular, like a shot of the Midwest with an aurora looking down on it. Some are haunting, like Chicago at night through a thick layer of clouds. Some are more subtly interesting, like a crisp night photo of the city, its boundaries clear from the color of the streetlights; or one of Oak Park and Forest Park, their boundaries recognizable from space as just a little more green than Austin and Melrose Park. Then there are the massive ice floes off the shoreline, which either put the city in perspective, or comically distort it.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Lake Michigan and the Gary, Indiana, harbor cloaked in snow and ice. [Link]
The cities of the Midwest at night with an aurora overhead. [Link]
Chicago, Oak Park, and the waterfront. The detail of the downtown buildings is incredible on this one. [Link]
O’Hare airport, from way more than 30,000 feet. [Link]
Chicago at night, along with Waukegan, Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee. [Link]
An ice floe bears down on the city from Lake Michigan. [Link]
The harbor, Soldier Field, and the Chicago River. [Link]
Last, the city and the suburbs covered in snow. [Link]

Want more? Have a look through the gallery below.

Photo gallery


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