Beautiful Star-Trail Photos Taken From The International Space Station

By David Wharton | 9 years ago

Mankind’s short history of space exploration has produced some truly amazing images. The first shots of the Earth viewed from the Moon. The barren deserts of Mars. And now a new batch of photographs can be added to the tally thanks to astronaut Don Pettit, who has uploaded some breathtaking photographs to NASA’s Johnson Space Center Flickr page.

Pettit is a NASA Flight Engineer currently working aboard the International Space Station. He explains how he captured the beautiful images:

My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.

So there you have it, amateur photographers. The bar for time-lapse photography just got raised. Granted, to truly be able to compete you’re going to have to get yourself into orbit somehow. Maybe you can rent a spot on one of SpaceX’s vessels?

Here are a few more of Pettit’s gorgeous images, and you can see the rest of the set over at the Flickr page.