The crew of the International Space Station has managed a spectacular photo
William L. Stefanov, Nasa/JSC
From hundreds of miles away, they shot down a crystal clear picture of the night's two largest cities in China that are otherwise mostly under a thick haze.
Night photos from space show impressively how humans spread across the earth - and everything in China is once again a little larger than elsewhere. This image, taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), shows the two most populous cities in the country:
Beijing and Tianjin
Alone in the Beijing metropolitan area population of about 12 million people added to get an estimated 8-9 million without official residence permits. Some 110 kilometers away in Tianjin once home to some 12 million people.
Although small in effect in the photo, however Langfang, located southeast of Beijing. But appearances are deceptive: Again, home to some 3.9 million people, more than for example in Berlin. The dark regions are mostly agricultural areas.
Clearly visible is a grid of streets of Beijing with its concentric ring roads, coming up with the rapid growth of the city. In 1930 there were only 1.6 million people. 1953 were already 2.8 million. Just since 2006 the population estimated to have swelled by a further three million inhabitants.
The photo was taken on 14 December when the ISS about 630 kilometers from Beijing hovered over the Yellow Sea. From such a distance to get such a clear view of the Chinese cities, has rarity value: They often lie under a thick veil of smog.