STS-135

A celestial spectacle from the space station

A crop of the NASA image. Click the image for the full resolution NASA version. Credit: NASA

I’m busy working on a new astronomy book at the moment, so don’t have much time to blog, but I really couldn’t let this amazing new image slip by without posting it here.

It was taken by astronauts on the International Space Station and has to be one of the best images from orbit I’ve ever seen. Aside from the impressive space hardware on show (that’s STS-135, Space Shuttle Atlantis, docked on the left hand side) the image shows numerous other celestial sights.

Beyond the solar panels and Space Shuttle we can see the green glow of the aurora dancing over the limb of the Earth, while in the background there are lots of objects familiar to amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere. A quick glance shows the Coalsack Nebula, the rich star fields of the Milky Way, the Southern Cross, a hint of the Carina Nebula, and even the globular cluster Omega Centauri. Simply stunning!