ISS Expedition 59/60 astronaut Nick Hague tweeted:

Sporting our red, white, and blue on @Space_Station!🇺🇸 Planning a “cookout” tonight. Beef patties, corn, blueberry cobbler, and lemonade are all on the menu - tasty and ready in under 15 minutes. Hoping to catch some fireworks out the window later. Happy #4thofJuly from space!

Question: Can Astronauts really see firework displays from space? Have astronauts reported seeing firework displays from space in the past?

It doesn't have to be ISS or NASA, anyone will do as long as it's from space.

Other Earth-related things seen from space:

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    $\begingroup$ Many photos have been taken of thunderstorms and lighting from the ISS, however typical lighting is brighter than all but the most massive firworks. I suspect that countrywide fireworks or high densities might be visible but I don't think that individual fireworks would be visible to the naked eye. Best chance would probably be a high density country with lots of fireworks like Germany on New year's Eve. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Jul 9, 2019 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Don Petit did a ton of timelapse photography of the earths surface. Somethings you can see VERY clearly are phosporous blue LED lights, thunderstorms and various other high volume light sources. He also said in his talk i listened to that he and an old friend did an experiment with a blue laser pointer pointed at the ISS during one of his timelapses. You could see the laser as well because they calculated where it should be pointed. You could only see it in a handful of frames from his timelpase though. Its realistic to assume they could see high volume fireworks. $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2019 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn that's really interesting! Was it this talk? Fyi I have just asked Has anyone in space seen or photographed a laser pointer from Earth? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 9, 2019 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh it was at his non-broadcasted NEAIC talk, as far as I know "this was proprietary and confidential" because some of the things he touched on were still in the process of peer-review-- photography was prohibited. The LED tid-bit was also heavily touched on because the light spectrum for phosphorus based LEDs is going from Blue to Red as the phosphorous ages causing all sorts of nature-based problems... This video touches on light pollution at the end and has some of the photos he used (not all though). $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2019 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ Here's a picture he took of thunderstorms using an exposure equivalent to "star trails" that I think he called "Earth trails". That photo is on his twitter banner too: twitter.com/astro_pettit?lang=en $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2019 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Yes. "If you're very lucky with darkness and timing, you can sometimes just barely see fireworks from space. Happy 4th of July!" -- ISS Commander Chris Hadfield.

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    $\begingroup$ Definitive answer! Thanks. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2019 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes (frequently) I'm slow; I can't tell if the point of the tweet is to suggest that the view is always so incredible that mere fireworks are nothing in comparison, or if the comment is meant literally. I'm searching the photo for fireworks, wondering if I'm missing the point. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 10, 2019 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ The photo is too wide-angle and low-res to resolve fireworks, so it likely just means Hey, enjoy this pic I took on the Fourth. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2019 at 15:28

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