Visual observations from space reveal a number of fascinating natural phenomena of interest to meteorologists and aeronomists, such as aurorae, airglow, aerosol layers, lightning, and atmospheric refraction effects. Other man-made radiation, including city lights and laser beacons, are also of considerable interest. Of course, the most widely used space observations are of the large-scale weather systems viewed each day by millions of people on their local television. From lower altitudes than the geostationary meteorological satellite orbits, obliques and overlapping stereo views are possible, allow height information to be obtained directly, often a key element in the use of the photographs for research purposes. However, this note will discuss only the less common observations mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.
Owen K. Garriott, "Visual observations from space," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1064-1068 (1979)