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Photos: Astronauts Capture, Tweet Constellations from Space Station

ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers, took this  photo from the International Space Station on February 1, 2012.  The Orion constellation can be seen rising in the centre and the V-shaped Taurus constellation on the right. Credit: European Space Agency
ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers took this photo from the International Space Station on February 1, 2012. The Orion constellation, with the line of three  belt stars, can be seen rising in the center, while the V-shaped Taurus constellation is visible on the right. Credit: European Space Agency

Ever wonder about what some of the most familiar constellations look like from space?  

Above the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere, the stellar patterns that were first imagined by ancient Greek and Roman skywatchers come to life. Some 400 kilometers from Earth, many astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are  avid stargazers, pointing cameras out windows to capture constellations and star clusters from a cosmic perspective.

As we head towards year’s end, Orion dominates our late night skies. In the photo below, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg caught the iconic constellation while gliding over the night side of Earth. The row of three stars that represent the mythical hunter’s belt is visible in the center, while the bright orange star Betelgeuse shines on the lower left.

One of the most familiar of star patterns is not a constellation at all but an asterism–a distinct, easily recognizable pattern of stars. The seven bright stars of the Big Dipper represents the back end of the Great Bear, or Ursa Major. In this ISS photo, the Dipper’s bowl takes center stage. The docked Soyuz capsule’s solar panel to the left, while a green aurora blankets the Earth below.

 

While moonlight baths the Atlantic Ocean in the breathtaking photo below, the Pleiades star cluster, some 400 light years from Earth, shimmers  high above. This loose grouping of young stars, also known as the Seven Sisters, is a favorite deep-sky object for backyard sky-watchers in the constellation Taurus. It’s an especially a pretty sight though binoculars and telescopes this time of the year.

 

 

While not a constellation or deep space object, Earth’s silvery moon from space just can’t be ignored. Check out this stunning cosmic portrait by NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn earlier this year.

 

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. Sanchit Kamble
    Mumbai,India
    December 19, 2013, 10:28 am

    Its just awesome!!!

  2. Ruth Petit
    Canada
    December 1, 2013, 6:25 pm

    I check several times during the day and sometimes at night what you have in store for us earthbound creatures. At the very least you allow me to imagine that I am there with you!
    Thank you,

  3. prince
    November 19, 2013, 8:54 pm

    what more if I’ve seen them closely…
    =) simply amazing..

  4. nateko
    guayne
    November 14, 2013, 8:18 pm

    Ce qu’il me plait c’est que les lumières de villes forment aussi des constellations …

  5. Богдан
    Україна
    November 14, 2013, 1:08 pm

    надзвичайні світлини!

  6. Abhishek
    Rotterdam
    November 14, 2013, 5:55 am

    And then there were the stars :)

  7. Yolanda
    November 14, 2013, 3:17 am

    Really inspiring pictures. Thanks!!

  8. Stephanie
    November 14, 2013, 12:59 am

    FYI, Reunion and Mauritius are in the Indian, not Atlantic Ocean unlike what the intro paragraph for that photo says!

  9. Alan Lieberman
    Columbus, OH
    November 13, 2013, 10:42 pm

    Wow….I could look at these photos all day and night.
    Mezmerizing!

  10. Jose Segarra
    Bronx, N.Y.
    November 13, 2013, 9:07 pm

    - When one looks up at the skies and sees bright objects does one see stars or galaxies?

  11. hteekap
    malaysia
    November 13, 2013, 8:35 pm

    i like this

  12. Sal Dorion
    Whitby Ontario Canada
    November 13, 2013, 8:13 pm

    All is so awesome. I have sat on my balcony facing east and have seen in the last couple weeks a very low orange moon around 10pm peeking out from behind some dark clouds as well as a line of 3 stars and thought this was unusual but loved it all. What you see and have shown us is an impactable site thanks.

  13. DARAPU SRIKANTH SATISH KUMAR - DSSK
    November 13, 2013, 8:02 pm

    Wonderful!

  14. Milad
    You
    November 12, 2013, 10:31 am

    Thanks for the article Zybatvn