Stunning image of NASA astronaut captures ‘star trails in space’ from ISS

Incredible image of NASA astronaut captures ‘star trails in space’ aboard the International Space Station

  • A NASA astronaut captured a stunning image of ‘star trails’ during a mission aboard the International Space Station
  • Curving streaks of distant stars and Earth lit up by city lights and lightning can be seen in viral photography
  • The image was posted to Reddit on September 11 and received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users.

A NASA astronaut has captured star trails from space in a stunning image taken aboard the International Space Station.

Donald Pettit, an active American astronaut who has visited the ISS three times, was able to use his free time during missions to take images of space from inside the station’s glass dome – known as the Cupola – which offers epic views of the cosmos.

He set up his Nikon D3s camera and let it take a 15 minute exposure shot.

At the top of the image, white lines show the distant star trails, which are curved due to the rotation of the space station orbiting Earth.

A NASA astronaut captured star trails from space (top of image above) from the International Space Station

A NASA astronaut captured star trails from space (top of image above) from the International Space Station

The Earth itself is seen in the lower half of the image, with orange streaks of city lights and countless blue dots, each representing a thunderbolt from a thunderstorm below.

The image contains a green glow, called airglow, which separates Earth from space. Its color is similar to the aurorae in the night sky, which most people know as the aurora borealis and australia.

“Auroras are excited by electrons and other solar particles coming down from Earth’s magnetic fields, which is why you see them in the polar regions,” Pettit told Newsweek. “Airglow is everywhere on Earth, and molecules in the upper atmosphere are excited by solar activity.”

The image was posted to Reddit on September 11 and received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users.

Donald Pettit (above), who has been to the ISS three times, was able to use his free time during missions to take images of space from inside the station's glass dome - known as the cupola - which offers epic views of the cosmos

Donald Pettit (above), who has been to the ISS three times, was able to use his free time during missions to take images of space from inside the station’s glass dome – known as the cupola – which offers epic views of the cosmos

Pettit also explained how astronauts can find time to capture images of the cosmos.

“We work 12 to 14 hour days six days a week on the station, and outside of that you’re off duty,” he told Newsweek.

“Outside of your normal working hours, you can do whatever you want, including sleeping and eating and keeping in touch with your family. And then you can spend that time doing photography. If I could do a few hours of photography a day, that would be a real treat.

Pettit posted the image to Reddit on September 11 and it received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users.

Pettit posted the image to Reddit on September 11 and it received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users.

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