An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Prague during a nighttime orbit over Central Europe. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic (also called Czechia) and has been a crossroads for civilization and European trade for more than 1,000 years. The Václav Havel Airport Prague is visible as a bright cluster of lights. The airport is a critical part of Prague’s tourism industry, providing access to one of Europe’s most visited cities.
The dark meandering Vltava River contrasts with the bright lights of the city. The river flows for approximately 31 kilometers (19 miles) through the center of Prague and is crossed by 18 bridges that link each side of the city. Several of these bridges are visible as narrow strips of bright artificial lights in the full-resolution version of the photo.
Old Town, the city’s most historic district, is located on the eastern bank of the Vltava River in the center of Prague. This is the largest zone of orange-hued street lights where the Charles Bridge, astronomical clock tower, and numerous centuries-old buildings are located. Charles University is also located within Old Town, and at nearly 700 years old it is the oldest university in the Czech Republic. Due to its extensive architectural and cultural history, Old Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
Across the river from Old Town, historic Petřín Hill is visible as a large dark spot. The hill is one of the highest points in the city and provides a great view of Prague Castle, located just north of the hill. Stromovka park, the largest park in Prague, is recognizable as a large unilluminated area north of Petřín hill. The greenspace is a former royal hunting ground located within a bend of the Vltava River and spans 100 hectares (250 acres).
Astronaut photograph ISS066-E-187571 was acquired on March 21, 2022, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by members of the Expedition 66 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Cadan Cummings, Jacobs, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.