Can We See Stars From Space?


Many people over the years have been puzzled with the fact that why are stars from space not visible in the photos taken from the International Space Station. The stars are not visible also from lunar satellites or from space shuttles. The answer to this question is that stars from space are not visible. Let us see why.

Photography of Stars and Galaxy
Can We See Stars From Space?

Why Can’t We See Stars From Space?

The stars are there, but they are too faint to be visible. If you shoot a photo of someone standing in front of a brightly lit door, you just get the silhouette of the person in your photo and not a clear image. The person appears as a featureless shadow. The person is there, but it is not lit brightly enough to be visible in the photo. The same theory applies to stars from space.

The Camera Factor

The visibility or clarity also depends upon the camera and also on the fact that how much time the camera had to collect the light. It also depends upon the dynamic range of the camera. All these factors play a role in making your subject appear clear in your photo. While fancy and better cameras can adjust the sensitivity by adjusting the aperture that allows light, human eyes do the same by dilating and contracting the pupils. A person walking from a brightly lit place to a darker area outdoors will not be able to see stars in the sky. It takes time for the eyes to adjust to the sensitivity, open up the pupils and then slowly notice faint stars.

Black Sony Dslr Camera on Green Grass in Front of Brown and Green Mountain
Can We See Stars From Space?

Can Astronauts See Stars From Space?

The images of the moon landing or astronauts in the space do not show stars. The reason for this is that the camera exposures were set in such a way that they allowed good images of the bright sunlit surface of the moon. This included the images of the astronauts wearing white space suits and a shiny aircraft. As per the astronauts, in reality, they saw brighter stars when they stood in the shadow of the Lunar Module. They revealed that they could also see stars while orbiting towards the farther end of the moon. As per Al Worden, the astronaut from Apollo 15, the sky was ‘awash with stars’ while viewing from the farther end of the Moon which was not affected by daylight.

Can We See Stars From Space?
Can We See Stars From Space?

Cool Facts About Stars From Space

A cool fact about stars from space is that just like stargazers on Earth need a dark sky to see a clear vision of the stars, the astronauts in space need a dark sky too. The astronauts in the International Space Station experience nighttime 16 times a day at an interval of 45 minutes. This is because they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes. Astronauts see an extremely dark sky when they get to the dark side of the Earth. For the stars to show up properly, one needs to make the right exposure settings on the camera. If you are out under a dark night sky and can see many stars in the sky, the moment you take a camera to snap a picture, you will see only darkness and no stars. You need to take extra-long exposure shots in your camera to capture the Milky Way. The same reasoning applies to astronauts in the ISS. They can see stars from space if they take really long-exposure shots.


Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter