Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Hey, I Can See My House From Here

By Phil Plait

I love posting pictures of the Earth from space. It’s fun to see things from a height, and get an overview of our planet. Volcanoes, lakes, deserts, cyanobacterial blooms … sometimes you need to take a step back (well, up) to see things for how they are.

But then you get a picture of some place you recognize, and suddenly it becomes personal.

To wit: On April 29 an astronaut on the International Space Station took a picture of me.

Can you see me? I’m in there. This photo shows a healthy chunk of west-central Colorado, where the midwestern plains meet the Rocky Mountains (north is more or less to the right). The big city on the left is Denver, and to the right, sitting right on the border between flat and steep, is Boulder. There’s a road extending almost straight down from Boulder (or in real directions, to the northeast) called 119, or Diagonal Highway. The city at the bottom is Longmont, and in between the two is the small town of Niwot. The Earth Observatory Picture of the Day, where I got this photo, also has an annotated map.

I’ve ridden my bike all through that part of this picture, and it’s a bit surreal to see it this way. The reservoir, smaller lakes, farmland … I’ve seen a lot of it from eye height, but not 400 kilometers high!

People think Denver is in the mountains, but it’s really quite a bit into the plains. Boulder sits right where the mountains pop up, which is one of many reasons it’s such an amazing place to live. The view is spectacular.

This picture lays it out so well! And I checked my calendar: On April 29 I was at home, which means I’m in this picture. So are roughly 3 million other people; most of the population of Colorado is in this picture.

Maybe you are too. Well, the odds are low unless you live near me. But a lot of the planet has been photographed this way, and those pictures are online. Go take a look! Maybe you can find a shot of your hometown.

And next time the space station is overhead, maybe they’re taking another one. Don’t forget to wave!

Read more about: