Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wave as They Pass By

ISS Clear
41 second exposure

Do you see that faint streak of light up there in the center of the photo? That's the International Space Station, hurtling through space at a speed of about 17,000 mph. It is 230 miles above the earth and is the brightest man-made object in space.

Last night, when I took this photo, we all stood outside and watched it pass. As we craned our necks up at the sky, feet firmly planted on the ground, I wondered what it must be like to be up there, looking down. How surreal to see your planet zooming past like a giant schoolroom globe - day and night and day and night -15 orbits in a 24 hour period.

Do they get used to it? Does it grow to feel commonplace?

I'd like to think that I would spend my six months in space gasping in awe each time I passed a window, but somehow we humans grow easily bored of awesome.

We drive into our garages and enter our homes completely oblivious to the wonder that exists around us. We catch a glimpse of the vastness of space and forget to be amazed. We see a sunrise and rub our eyes and wish we were still in bed asleep.

My mother taught me to name the constellations and marvel at meteor showers. I hope I can manage the same with my children. I certainly intend to try.

122 minute exposure - ISS and star movement

P.S. There are some excellent resources available if you are interested in tracking the ISS or finding what's going on in your part of the night sky - here are a few...

Find out when the ISS will be visible in your part of the world here.

Check out the constellations in real time on your iPhone here. (There are Android apps available, as well, but I don't have an Android phone, so I can't really recommend them.)

Plan your next meteor shower viewing here.

Keep looking up, people.