This footage is absolutely incredible.
While Muslims commemorated one of Ramadan's holiest nights below, an Arab astronaut showed how brightly Mecca and Medina are lit up while looking down from space.
In a video posted to Twitter, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi showed off video from aboard the International Space Station on the night of Laylat al-Qadr, or the "Night of Power" during Ramadan, of the glittering Saudi Arabian holy cities as worshippers flocked to them during the holy month.
In the video, the lights surrounding the Grand Mosque and its holiest region the Kaaba are on full display, allowing viewers an incredible opportunity to see how such hallowed human landmarks are visible from space.
من محطة الفضاء الدولية،
إهداء لعيال سلمان في هذه الليالي المباركة 🌙⭐️
إهداء لبلاد الحرمين الشريفين، مهبط الوحي وأرض الرسالة، المملكة العربية السعودية. 🇸🇦 pic.twitter.com/3OQTg4CgXb
— Sultan AlNeyadi (@Astro_Alneyadi) April 17, 2023
Dedicating the video to "Salman's children" — which, yes, is a reference to the infamous Saudi royal family — this "Najmonaut" (which is the new term for Arab astronauts) is, as his Twitter bio notes, currently on the UAE's longest-ever mission to the ISS.
Al-Neyadi's trip to the space station happened to coincide with Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam that requires observant Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset.
Though he didn't say exactly what his plans were, the Najmonaut said prior to his ISS trip that there are exemptions from fasting during Ramadan, including travel and illness.
"So in that regard — anything that can jeopardize the mission or maybe put the crew member at risk — we’re actually allowed to eat sufficient food to prevent any escalation of lack of food or nutrition or hydration," he told reporters during a January press conference, adding that he would "wait and see how it goes."
Though it's unclear if or how al-Neyadi has observed Ramadan aboard the ISS, it's clear that even while off-world, Mecca is close to his heart — and that he wanted to be able to share his rarefied view with followers on terra firma.
More on ISS photography: Astronaut Snaps Mind-Melting Photo of Northern Lights Way Down Below
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