This one is uses a bit of artistic licence on how the Earth would actually look from space including the Sun, rayleigh scattering and the vividness of the street lights. This image is created using textures and light maps from NASA's database of aerial photographs and then applied to a model.
After setting up the initial model I then applied the texture of the Earth onto the sphere as well as a bump map that gives the planet some height as needed. I then added a slightly larger sphere with the cloud texture applied to it and rotated it until I found a happy setup. A further sphere is set up slightly larger with a near transparent blue layer to emulate the rayleigh scattering of light through the atmosphere, again not scientifically correct, more stylised.
The Sun was added as a light emitting sphere on a separate render layer which allows me to edit it in the compositor later on. The image is then rendered out allowing me to move into the compositor where I apply several blur effects to the little sun sphere that gives it a haze around the edge as well as the appearance of Sun rays.
Also in the compositor I added a sharpen filter to crisp up the image as well as apply a barrel distortion to emulate a camera lens as well as a level of chromatic aberration, mostly visible on the lights on the right hand edge of the Earth, which gives the effect of taking the photo in a less than perfect (and therefore more natural) lens. Finally a small and subtle amount of lens flare was added to the composition to tie it all together.