Click pics to see more and bigger

  1. Jopa says:

    I will give almost anything to see this view once for just 10 seconds!
    I envy the astronauts…….. 🙂
    I want to buy a good telescope, anyone knows what is the best bang for the buck for a rookie? It’s important I can attach a camera to the telescope and take pictures… this will be cool.

  2. JoJo Dancer says:

    Okay, I don’t know very much about space exploration. But from what I can I see, these men don’t appear to be exposed directly to the sun. As I figure that would burn them to a crisp and or all the images would be blown out/over exposed with no shadows/details to see.

    So I ask, where does the light in these images come from. Could it be reflected from the moon?

    Just curious.

  3. pjakobs says:

    just one word:



  4. KVolk says:

    Awe inspiring stuff.

  5. Nicky says:

    No doubt these are great pics! I would also like to find the answer to #2’s question.

  6. Cinaedh says:

    All of these pics make fabulous wallpaper.

  7. amable says:

    Okay, I think I know the answer guys. The Sun is behind the camera. Think about it people. The shots of the Earth are evidence. If you can see light on the Earth then that means it’s daytime there so that means the Sun is shining on that side. Make sense?

    My question though is, where are the stars? I would think space would be full of them and they would be visible in almost every shot where the vastness of space is in the frame.

  8. Jim Scarborough says:

    #7 has the position of the sun correctly. The light gets reflected from the Earth and the Shuttle, so you see some soft shadows. The top picture shows some direct sunlight from the left. The suits are designed to protect the astronauts from direct sunlight. Gold-plated visors, for example, protect the eyes. This is technology developed during the 1960’s.

    You don’t see stars because they are so far away, and as such, very dim in comparison to the subject of the photo. Film and especially digital sensors do not have enough dynamic range to photograph the bright foreground and the dark background in one exposure.

    #1, there is almost certainly an astronomy club near you, and they would be delighted to help guide you into the hobby.

  9. your-name-here says:

    Wow… those photos just rock.

  10. JoJo Dancer says:

    @Amable – I would hardly believe that the Sun is behind the camera. If it were, you would expect much harder shadows and washed out highlights. These pictures show soft shadows and diffused lighting of some kind.

    I can tell from a few of the images that a flash was used. Most certainly with a softbox of some kind attatched. I do agree though that it is strange that the earth is somehow lit up as if it were daylight. For that I have no logical reasoning yet.

    As for the lack of Stars in the distance. The nearest stars are atleast 1 light year away. A camera would have to be set to expose much longer than what settings were being used here to capture them. Which is why it is almost always black in the background of most space walking pictures.

    So still no logical answer as to what is the source of light.

    C’mon John, I know you can cook up some sort of conspiracy theory for this. Help us out here.

  11. BillM says:

    Go to this link and search (upper right) for “buying a telescope”
    Lot’s of material.

    JoJo Dancer
    Shadows are softened buy the great amount of light that is being reflected by Earth.

  12. JoJo Dancer says:

    @Jim Scarborough – Not to completely deny your explanation for the position of the sun. But your saying that in space, with nothing around and in direct exposure to the sun, that there would still be diffusion of light?

    Because here on earth, even with the several layers of atmosphere we have, I somehow get very hard shadows and washed out brights when shooting on a clear sky type of day. I would have to use some sort of diffuser to soften the light. Like shooting around trees, holding diffusers above subject, bouncing light from source etc.

    Sunlight on a clear day will always have to be diffused in one way or another to reach the type of soft tones and shadows acquired like these images. So if your saying the sun is directly behind them, then what is diffusing the sunlight?

    I still say we have no logical answer to the source of light in question.

  13. bill says:

    I remember the line from the Star Trek movie, “I’m from Iowa, I only work in outer space!”

  14. Jopa says:

    Thanks BillM and Jim.

  15. amable says:

    Okay guys, correct me if I’m wrong but, how can the Earth be so lit up as if it were daytime? The key word here is “daytime”. So, if it’s daytime on the Earth in those shots then that side of the Earth, where the astronauts are orbiting over at the time of the pictures, is being lit up by the Sun. Only the Sun lights up the Earth. If anything else were to be able to light up the Earth then we would be in deep trouble.

    In fact, all of the pictures, except for 3 where I can’t tell what the source of the light is, are being illuminated by the Sun in one form or another. Whether the Sun is directly behind the camera or to the right or to the left or where I don’t think really matters. The point I’m making with my answer is that it wouldn’t be daylight on the Earth without the Sun illuminating it. The Sun is certainly not in the other side ofthe Earth opposite to where most of these pictures were taken (except for #3 where I can’t see the Earth). That’s my final answer.

    The answer for why the stars are not visible makes perfectly good sense to me.

  16. hhopper says:

    Very nice Uncle Dave.

  17. Balbas says:


    The nearest pair of stars are Alpha and Proxima Centauri, at a distance of 4.5 light years, and they are visible in the Southern Hemisphere only.

  18. Bill R. says:

    #15, amable –

    That’s also a day pass photo. If you see look at the astronauts visor, it appears to be in the ‘down’ position.

    NASA also makes these available through their web site.

  19. BubbaRay says:

    Fabulous photography. Where’s my PanAm ticket to the moon Arthur C. Clarke predicted in the 60’s – re: 2001 – A Space Odyssey?

    A few more superb photos from STS-118 and other NASA missions are here:

    For all those wondering about how the photos were lit, the shuttle is in LEO (low earth orbit) and it’s possible to be fully illuminated with the Earth only partially so. There’s only one source of light around here – it’s a giant ball of hydrogen fusing into helium exactly 1 AU from Earth.

    And don’t even begin to talk about moonlight — where do you think that light originated?

  20. BubbaRay says:

    #19, Whoops, forgot to mention, you’ll need to scroll down some for more great photos! Kudos to Hop and ECA! Enjoy!

  21. Miguel says:

    Absolutely breathtaking!

    The last photo is of hurricane Dave, which forced NASA to bring the shuttle to Earth 1 day earlier than originally planned.

    I am amazed at how all this seems unreal – so much so that more and more people can’t believe it’s even real – see earlier comments. But NASA is really doing all this! You can see the ISS from Earth with a modest sized telescope, if you know where to look – so it’s really there! And believe me, one day photos of the Apollo landing modules will be taken, and everyone will just go Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh……

    Most unfortunate that these things seem unreal, and are done so rarely… For me it’s like we’re going back to the Stone Age, an the Apollo days are becoming some sort of a folk tale, a legend. Sad, very sad…

  22. Miguel says:

    I’m sorry, hurricane Dean, not Dave.

  23. Lars Ekdahl says:

    Do appreciate you pointed me to those photos.

  24. Glenn E says:

    Ah NASA… Time once again to show the public what they’re paying for. Whether the public wanted it or not. And if just 10% did, that’s a good enough excuse for Congress to approve funds for it. They do this PR stuff about twice a year. In the spring, for appropriations time. And in the fall, for the new school year, so it gets worked into the curriculum as “current affairs”.

    BTW, Jopa. You can see what the astronauts see by going to one of those IMAX theater shows. And someday soon, HDTVs will bring these views right into your livingroom. Rather than funding a rarely useful space laboratory, NASA should just build a Tv station up there. That way we can all tune in on these views and more. Why should we have to way for them to dole out the pics, piecemeal? Let’s have 24/7 views of earth in glorious HD, so we can all get bored of seeing it.

  25. Glenn E says:

    Oh, BTW. Remember that old Outer Limits Tv series? And how they did that visual trip of showing you the moon, all blurry at first? And then they sharpened it “to crystal clarity”? This always made any Tv’s screen (even a cheap B&W model) look spectacular for a couple of seconds. It fools you into comparing the two views. So naturally the second one always takes your breath away. The same thing applies with these photos. Lots of contrast (due to a lack of air), and high color saturation. You can get just as impressive views from mountain tops. Check this one out.

    Green enough for ya?


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