Stunning image of a NASA astronaut capturing ‘star trails in space’ from the International Space Station

Incredible photo of a NASA astronaut captures ‘star trails in space’ aboard the International Space Station

  • A NASA astronaut captured a stunning photo of ‘star trails’ while on a mission aboard the International Space Station
  • Curved lanes of distant stars and earth lit with city lights and lightning strikes can be seen in the viral image
  • The photo was posted on Reddit on September 11 and has received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users

A NASA astronaut has captured star trails from space in a stunning photo taken aboard the International Space Station.

Donald Pettit, an active American astronaut who has traveled to the International Space Station three separate times, has been able to use his spare time during missions to take pictures of space from inside the station’s glass dome – known as the dome – that provides epic views of the universe.

He set up his Nikon D3s and left it to take a 15-minute exposure.

At the top of the image, white lines show distant star trails curved due to the space station’s rotation as it orbits Earth.

A NASA astronaut captures star trails from space (at the top of the image above) from aboard the International Space Station

The Earth itself is seen in the lower half of the image, with orange streaks of city lights and countless blue dots – each representing a lightning strike from a storm below.

The image contains a green glow, known as an atmospheric glow, that separates Earth from space. Its color is similar to the aurora borealis in the night sky, which most people know as the northern and southern lights.

“The aurora is excited by electrons and other solar particles that descend into Earth’s magnetic fields, which is why you see them in the polar regions,” Pettit told Newsweek. “Air glow is everywhere on Earth, and molecules in the upper atmosphere are excited by solar activity.”

The photo was posted on Reddit on September 11 and has received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users.

Donald Pettit (above), who has traveled to the International Space Station three separate times, has been able to use his spare time during missions to take pictures of space from inside the station's glass dome — known as the dome — that provides epic views of the universe.

Donald Pettit (above), who has traveled to the International Space Station three separate times, has been able to use his spare time during missions to take pictures of space from inside the station’s glass dome — known as the dome — that provides epic views of the universe.

Pettit also explained how astronauts find time to take pictures of the universe.

“We work 12 to 14 hours a day six days a week at the station, and outside of that you’re off duty,” he told Newsweek.

“Outside of normal office hours, you can do whatever you want, including sleep, eat and keep in touch with your family. And then you can spend that time photographing. If I could do a couple of hours of photography a day, that would be a real treat.”

Pettit posted the photo on Reddit on September 11 and it has received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users

Pettit posted the photo on Reddit on September 11 and it has received over 68,000 likes and hundreds of comments from users

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