Stargazing from the ISS
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see the world at night on every orbit —that’s 16 times each crew day.
An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
ISS was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii.
Knowing the exact time and the location of the ISS, scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment.
They identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center). The dark patches are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy; such clouds can block our view of stars toward the center.
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