What It Feels Like to Fly Over Planet Earth

Here’s what a little time and creativity brings. James Drake, a professor of Physics at U. Maryland, downloaded 600 images from The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, stitched them into a marvelous 60 second time-lapse film, then posted it on his Tumblr blog, Infinity Imagined, along with this description of what the viewer sees:

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the Earth’s ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.

It’s a wonderful long-distance view of our great planet. But it’s not the only one out there. Some of our other favorites include:

  • Touring the Earth from Space (in HD) – Video - Give NASA 7 minutes, and they’ll show you the Earth’s most impressive landscapes (including a giant hurricane) as seen from space.
  • Earthrise in HD – Video - In November 2007, Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft orbited the moon and captured the first HD footage of an “earthrise” and “earthset.” Stunning to see.
  • A Day on Earth (as Seen From Space) – Video – Astronaut Don Pettit trained his camera on planet Earth, took a photo once every 15 seconds, and then created a brilliant time-lapse film. Very similar to what you see above.

All of these videos appear in our collection 125 Great Science Videos: From Astronomy to Physics & Psychology.

via @brainpicker



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  1. suthrnboy says . . . | September 25, 2011 / 9:13 pm

    Incredible!!! The lightning storms on the surface actually reflect off the space station’s panels. Wow!

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