The 2014 Perseid meteor shower will peak this week, and astrophotographers the world over will be gazing up at the skies, cameras contending with a very bright moon in the hopes of capturing some bright streaks across the sky.
And while some of them will undoubtedly succeed in capturing some stunning shots, there’s one view not a single one will be able to get… the view of a meteor shower from above. Read more…
Like many of us, astrophotographer Christoph Malin is a big fan of astronaut and fellow photographer Don Pettit. We’ve featured Pettit’s photography several times before — we even shared his entire talk from Luminance 2012 here — but in the video above, Malin puts together a little bit of both into a fitting tribute to his favorite “astronaut, poet and astrophotographer.” Read more…
Want to know how astronauts photograph in space? Just ask Donald Pettit, NASA astronaut and “amateur” photographer. Donald Pettit has called the International Space Station home for over 370 days, and in that time he’s captured some of the most mind-blowing photos of space – and Earth – we’ve ever seen. Read more…
We’re shared a couple of “stacked star trail” time-lapse videos over the past few months (see here and here), but those videos comprised nighttime photographs taken from the ground. Photographer Christoph Malin recently decided to try his hand at the technique, but instead of using his own earthbound photographs, he used NASA photographs shot from the International Space Station. The resulting video, shown above, features the stars drawing trails across the “sky” while the Earth creates light streaks down below. Read more…
Ever wonder what camera gear NASA astronaut Don Pettit uses to shoot his amazing photographs from the International Space Station? Here’s a portrait of Don floating around on with his massive collection of Nikon DSLRs and lenses. How much of the gear can you identify?
In a couple of short days, Don Pettit intends to do something that has never been done before: photograph the transit of Venus from space. The transit of Venus, a phenomenon where Venus appears as a small black dot crossing the plane of the sun, is a rare event that happens in pairs 8 years apart. The first of the current pair happen in 2004, and after June 5th we won’t be seeing Venus cross the sun again until the year 2117.
Pettit — who is preparing to shoot the event with his trusty Nikon D2Xs rig complete with 1200mm lens and white light solar filter — is a well-known astronaut/photographer and one whose work we’ve featured many times before on PetaPixel. So given the uniqueness of his upcoming photo op and the expertise of the photographer in question, we’re very interested in seeing the results. Be sure to check out the video for more info.
Here’s a fascinating video by NASA that explains what auroras are and what they look like from space. It’s filled with beautiful photographs and time-lapse sequences captured by astronauts on the International Space Station. Astronaut photographer Don Pettit, who maintains a blog about his experiences, writes that taking pictures of Earth is harder than it looks:
Even with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, eight meters (26 feet) of motion occurs during the exposure. Our 400-millimeter telephoto lens has a resolution of less than three meters on the ground. Simply pointing at a target and squeezing the shutter always yields a less-than-perfect image, and precise manual tracking must be done to capture truly sharp pictures. It usually takes a new space station crewmember a month of on-orbit practice to use the full capability of this telephoto lens.
Another surprisingly difficult aspect of Earth photography is capturing a specific target. If I want to take a picture of Silverton, Oregon, my hometown, I have about 10 to 15 seconds of prime nadir (the point directly below us) viewing time to take the picture. If the image is taken off the nadir, a distorted, squashed projection is obtained. If I float up to the window and see my target, it’s too late to take a picture. If the camera has the wrong lens, the memory card is full, the battery depleted, or the camera is on some non-standard setting enabled by its myriad buttons and knobs, the opportunity will be over by the time the situation is corrected. And some targets like my hometown, sitting in the middle of farmland, are low-contrast and difficult to find. If more than a few seconds are needed to spot the target, again the moment is lost. All of us have missed the chance to take that “good one.” Fortunately, when in orbit, what goes around comes around, and in a few days there will be another chance.
This past Sunday, a group of amateur astronomers in San Antonio, Texas successfully “flashed” the International Space Station with a blue laser and spotlight as it whizzed by overhead. While this might sound like an easy thing to do, it’s much more complicated than you think. Astronaut Don Pettit shot the photo of the experiment seen above, and writes,
This took a number of engineering calculations. Projected beam diameters (assuming the propagation of a Gaussian wave for the laser) and intensity at the target had to be calculated. Tracking space station’s path as it streaked across the sky was another challenge. I used email to communicate with Robert Reeves, one of the association’s members. Considering that it takes a day, maybe more, for a simple exchange of messages (on space station we receive email drops two to three times a day), the whole event took weeks to plan.
The International Space Station maintains an orbital altitude of between 205 and 255 miles, so the fact that Pettit was able to see the flash of light from that distance is quite impressive.