astro_pettit

























I've spent more than a year in space taking tens of thousands of photos, but one of my favorites is still the time I captured a shadow that looked like Godzilla... cast onto the Japanese module!

Shows the Silver Award... and that's it.

Gives 100 Reddit Coins and a week of r/lounge access and ad-free browsing.

Thank you stranger. Shows the award.

Can't stop seeing stars

I don't need it, I don't even necessarily want it, but I've got some cash to burn so I'm gonna get it.


  1. Sun setting behind the ISS solar panels, captured on my previous mission in 2012. The sheet Kapton substrate for the thousands of individual solar cells produces the deep red-orange glow when illuminated at the proper sun angles. Captured with a Nikon D3s, 24mm f1.4 lens, f8, 200th sec, ISO 800.

  2. I use Photoshop to stack these images, in this case about 50. I adjust them to look the way i remember it actually appeared s to me; i do not like high saturation adjusted images where the colors look "garish".

  3. It is so cool to actually have an astronaut posting astrophotography on Reddit!

  4. Amazing! Really hope to see a picture taken over Norway once. Don't see those too often.

  5. Excellent photo. I didn't know the solar panels were translucent! They look so fragile.

  6. Thank you. The solar panels are actually quite strong, to survive debris impacts over years.

  7. An image I captured on my previous mission to the ISS, showing the sun setting behind the station solar panels. The sheet Kapton substrate for the thousands of individual solar cells produces the deep red-orange glow when illuminated at the proper sun angles. Captured with a Nikon D3s, 24mm f1.4 lens, f8, 200th sec, ISO 800.

  8. Holy shit, “Lightning Bugs” is crazy! That’s so cool

  9. Your photography is amazing! How much free time do you have to take shots while you’re up there?

  10. Typically we work 10-12 hour days 6 days a week, with Sunday reserved for break. I take every chance I get to take photos.

  11. This is so cool! Do you get a lot of free time on the ISS. Are there set work hours ?

  12. Nighttime photo of Iberia, including all of Spain, Portugal, North Africa, and some of France, showing a rich history of human development. At night it becomes obvious where civilization is by the way we sprinkle our light bulbs across Earth, and differences can be seen between multiple cultures. From orbit you can see structure on the order of half a continent, adding complementary observations to those from airplanes, mountains, and feet on the ground. Nights at light become photos worth capturing in of themselves when you are outside their range of interference. Captured with Nikon D3s, 24mm lens, .3 sec, f1.4, ISO 3200.

  13. Wow, nice shot! It's clear in this picture why flying a GA plane over the Everglades at night is no joke. When did you take this?

  14. One of my favorite topics to capture from the ISS is cities at night. Although they are every astrophotographer's nightmare from the ground, from orbit, they become a phenomena worth photographing.

  15. These are some amazing images! If you don’t mind me asking, are you still an astronaut? Or have you pursued another career?

  16. This might be a stupid question but do you post these from the ISS?

  17. This photo was taken during my previous mission in 2012. I am currently on Earth!

  18. I like how neighborhoods are color coded: amber, green, yellow, purple...

  19. The amount of color viewers from the ISS are able to see at night can be surprising!

  20. Photo of Shanghai at night I captured in 2012 during Expedition 30. This photo shows the development of LED lighting in cities where broad spectrum pastel colors of purple, blue, green, red, and pink are beginning to be directed into space. Unlike narrow emission bands in sodium and mercury vapor lighting, LED is broadband and difficult for astronomers to remove via filters. The extent of LED lighting in our urban centers is growing. Captured with Nikon D3s, 24mm lens, 1/8th sec exposure, f1.4 at ISO 6400.

  21. Star trail photo over Southeast Asia taken from the International Space Station on my previous mission in 2012. This astrophotography time exposure shows the development of LED lighting in cities where broad spectrum pastel colors of purple, blue, green, & pink are prominent, creating a vivid mixture visible from space. Captured with a Nikon D3s, 20 min effective exposure from about 40 individual images, f2 at ISO 800.

  22. Is there any way to get a high res of this? I would love to have it as my background.

  23. I may have to make and share some later for that, perhaps on a photo gallery.

  24. Sun setting behind the ISS solar panels. The sheet Kapton substrate for the thousands of individual solar cells produces the deep red-orange glow when illuminated at the proper sun angles. Captured with a Nikon D3s, 24mm f1.4 lens, f8, 200th sec, ISO 800.

  25. The green aurora, typically at altitudes below 150km, is located well below the International Space Station's orbit at 400km. On my previous mission in 2012, we flew over this aurora and observed it by looking nadir, i.e downward. I call this photo "Green River." Captured with a Nikon D3s, 24mm lens at f1.4, 0.5 sec, ISO 6400.

  26. I managed to capture the Zodiacal Light at orbital sunrise, on my last mission. This image shows a sunrise from ISS where the interplanetary dust in our solar system is seen as the zodiacal cloud. The Zodiacal Light is faint and difficult to see from Earth due to scattered light within our atmosphere spoiling the contrast. When exo-atmospheric, scattered light is not a factor; zodiacal light shines bright. Pleiades star cluster, Jupiter, and Venus are also seen glowing near the horizon. Captured with Nikon D3s, 24mm lens, at 0.5 sec, f1.4, ISO 12800.

  27. Wow, I love the blue glow and is that a star cluster. If so what is it called.

  28. The blue glow is the Zodiacal light; dust in the solar system illuminated by the sun.

  29. Cool! is there a star cluster more towards the bottom of the picture?

  30. They have the Alpha Magnetic x-ray Spectrometer (AMS) telescope for looking at cosmic rays. However, I think ISS has an environment that’s not optimal for telescopes like Hubble or Webb. ISS’s machinery can vibrate a bit too much. The station can also produce a lot of heat that needs radiated away. This means the station could be bright in IR. EVAs and visiting spacecraft can contaminate the area with gas, as well. Now, there are still telescopes pointed towards Earth, I think. But beyond AMS I don’t know many for observing the heavens.

  31. Large Magellanic Cloud taken from ISS during my first mission, Expedition 6 in 2003, showing the possibilities of astrophotography from orbit. This was taken when Space Station was flying XPOP attitude, a solar inertial attitude that allowed the solar panels to point towards the sun without tracking. Essentially, the station itself was the tracking mechanism. A solar inertial attitude is about one degree per day different from a stellar inertial attitude thus for 30 second time exposures the stars remain as pinpoints. Since about 2006, ISS has flown LVLH attitude, where one side remains pointed nadir towards Earth at all times and time exposures yield stars that are arcing trails.

  32. Wow, why does it look like it's getting squeezed?

  33. A photo mosaic made from a series of photographs taken aboard the ISS during Expedition 6 in 2003 as the Moon was setting.

  34. good question; we have Bogen arms on ISS that work really well to mount a camera in a window.

  35. Is the purple haze apparent when viewed with the naked eye, or just because of the long exposure?

  36. Purple haze is visible w eye; it is caused by resonance scattering by atmospheric nitrogen molecules illuminated by sunlight and emits at a wavelength near 390nm.

  37. What causes the moon to look squished as it goes further down?

  38. It is a type of atmospheric refraction that distorts our view of the moon through it!

  39. A photo mosaic made from a series of photographs taken aboard the ISS during Expedition 6 in 2003 as the Moon was setting.

  40. So just out of curiosity, is this a visible spectrum picture? Seems a lot more realistic looking than most (as beautiful as coming afterwards is) I just love just seeing what stuff would look like if we could somehow see it with the naked eye xD

  41. this is a visible spectrum photo; colors are more vivid due to no atmospheric scattering

  42. Thank you for this, I've wondered why there isn't a telescope on the ISS. Are there windows that face the stars in it's current orientation? I'd like to see what new photographic sensors can do, my pixel takes great star shots

  43. With 400mm f2.8 and 1200mm f8 lenses, we effectively have big hunk of glass refractors on ISS.

  44. Can you explain what’s happening in this image? It looks like the solar panels are behind the stars and earth. Or are those rotating relatively to the position of the camera?

  45. The rotating solar panels were caught in the star trail long exposure, blurring them relative to the background. Can explain more technical details if wanted.

  46. What an incredibly great shot!

  47. This looks straight from Interstellar kinda dimensions' scene. Million dollar shot!!! 😍🔥

  48. Thanks! Was taken a few years before the movie, but I can see the resemblance.

  49. Really 😳 That's extraordinary. Are you still in NASA?

  50. This doesn't even look real, it's incredible. Thank you for this, and I (and many other I'd wager) would love to see an image taken to catch said special wavelength we cannot see due to the atmosphere that you built a custom lense for, if you ever have a chance...

  51. Hi Don (if you don't mind), I know the ISS uses a fly wheel or 'control moment gyroscope', but does this mean the gimbal motor follows this same 4 degrees a minute pattern? Or is it messed up by other parameters?

  52. CMG's are used for attitude control until they saturate and thrusters are fired to de-saturate. The cages holding the CMG's do not put torque on them unless an attitude change is needed. We can go a month or more before de-sats.

  53. from my memory, this was probably taken at ISO 400; f11, at 1/1200; black starless background due to short exposure

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