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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Time Lapse: The stars, from orbit

By Phil Plait

There have been a lot of time lapse videos made using pictures taken by astronauts on the International Space Station as they orbit the Earth. These all tend to show the lights of cities streaming by, or storms, or the spectacular aurorae that have been shimmering in our skies the past few months.

But what about the stars themselves? Sure, some videos have shown them, but usually the focus is on the planet below, not the skies above. So photographer Alex Rivest took some of the footage, enhanced them somewhat to bring out the stars better, and created this lovely video:

It's amazing to see the Milky Way in that much detail! In fact, many times there are so many stars it's hard to identify the part of the sky we're seeing. The Orion Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy make several appearances, and one thing to you should definitely look out for is the breathtaking Comet Lovejoy and Milky Way tableau at the 3:00 mark. Also, at 2:30 or so, I saw a small light moving horizontally, left-to-right, just above the upper part of the aurora over Earth's surface. It might be an internal reflection -- the astronauts shoot these pictures through glass, and they're plagued with reflections of things behind them -- but it might also be something else in orbit. It's hard to tell.

Alex has lots of other videos on Vimeo as well that are worth a look-see -- I especially liked this one of the Sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge, something I saw many times visiting friends in Berkeley. Gorgeous!

Tip o' the lens cap to Aliyeza Yavari on Google+.

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- Time lapse video: ISS cometrise
- An astronautâs away-from-home movie: Fragile Oasis

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