We have all grown up looking at the pictures of earth and stars in books and videos, but how do they look like from space? The earth looks like a beautiful blue ball when seen from the moon and the stars appear the same as they do from the earth – faint twinkling objects in the sky. If you want a deeper insight into how exactly do earth and stars from space look like, then let us see what astronauts have to say.
How Do Earth and Stars From Space Look like?
When you blast off in a rocket at around 200 miles away from the earth’s surface, you are in the orbit of the International Space Station. From the window of the ISS, the earth looks like a blue-colored beautiful and gigantic ball. During the day, the surface appears to have big landforms. During the night, one can see the lights of cities on Earth.
As one goes further away to the orbit of the moon or passes the moon, which is about 380,000 km away from the Earth, one can see it as a bright-colored ball in the space. Astronauts say that at such a distance, the Earth looks like the moon only.
Who Took The First Images of Earth And Stars From Space?
The first images of the Earth were taken from the moon during the Apollo mission. In 1968, the man sent the first manned spacecraft Apollo 8 outside the Earth’s orbit. It was the first spaceflight that left the gravitational field of the Earth and also escaped the gravitational field of the moon and went further ahead. It was the same space voyage, in which astronauts left the surface of the Earth, visited another world and came back safely.
Why Can You See Stars On Earth But Not In Space?
As well as you can see the Earth from space, you cannot see stars that well from space. On earth, we see stars twinkling brightly during the night sky. You might be wondering what the sky in the space is always dark and hence stars should appear bright and clear. But they don’t. The reason is that there is a vacuum in space and no atmosphere to spread the light all over. But the astronauts in the space can see direct sunlight as well as they can see from the Earth.
The stars in space are dim too because they are very away. Moreover, with no atmosphere to spread their emitted light, they continue to appear very dim and faint. Astronauts can see them but cannot capture them in space images because of the ‘fast exposure’ setting of the cameras. With fast exposure settings, they can see the images of the lunar surface and the earth very bright and clear. But to get the images of the stars, they will have to increase the exposure ratio. This will cause the earth and lunar surface images to be even brighter and not understandable.
It is only after the images of earth and stars from space sent by the Apollo 8 spacecraft, did we get a clear idea of how these celestial bodies look like from space.