Though obscured, the lights of France are visible near the horizon line at image upper left, while the lights of northern Africa are more clearly discernable at image right.
The gold to green line of airglow, caused by excitation of upper atmosphere gas molecules by ultraviolet radiation, parallels the horizon line (or Earth limb). The Pyrenees (whose highest point is Spain's Pico d' Aneto 3,404 m; 11,168 ft) extend from the Bay of Biscay (west, left) to the Gulf of Lyon (east, right).
Blurring of the city lights is caused by thin cloud cover (image left and center), while the cloud tops are dimly illuminated by moonlight.
The waves are generated as a diurnal tidal pulse flows over the shallow Camarinal Sill at Gibraltar. The small Spanish enclave of Ceuta occupies a narrow isthmus of land on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the rest of the surrounding territory is Morocco.
The waves flow eastward and refract around coastal features; they can be traced for as much as 150 km. Algeciras, Spain (left), the Bay of Gibraltar (Bahia de Algecira), and Gibraltar itself (right) are featured in this detailed vertical view over the European side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Densely populated Ceuta occupies the center of the image, its pink and white residential and industrial rooftops occasionally broken by patches of green - city parks and athletic fields.
three horizontal bands of red (top), yellow (double width), and red with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band; the coat of arms is quartered to display the emblems of the traditional kingdoms of Spain (clockwise from upper left, Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Aragon) while Granada is represented by the stylized pomegranate at the bottom of the shield; the arms are framed by two columns representing the Pillars of Hercules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar; the red scroll across the two columns bears the imperial motto of "Plus Ultra" (further beyond) referring to Spanish lands beyond Europe; the triband arrangement with the center stripe twice the width of the outer dates to the 18th century The city lights of Spain and Portugal define the Iberian Peninsula in this photograph taken from the International Space Station (ISS) on 4 December 2011.
Several large metropolitan areas are visible, marked by their relatively large and brightly lit areas, such as the capital cities of Madrid, Spain - located near the center of the peninsula's interior - and Lisbon, Portugal - located along the southwestern coastline.