The Brightest in the Sky

Jun 17, 2007 by Jared Smith

I haven’t taken any astrophotos in way too long. But tonight I got out for a few minutes to capture some of the brightest objects in the heavens. Today, the brightest objects in the sky at my location were:
1. The Sun (duh!)
2. The Moon
3. An Iridium Flare
4. Venus
5. The International Space Station docked with Space Shuttle Atlantis

I photographed #5, #4, and #2 tonight.

Here you see the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Atlantis careening across the sky at almost 18,000 miles per hour. It’s a bit hard to believe, but 10 people are currently living in that bright light that makes its way around the Earth every 48 minutes.

What is it that is lighting up the dark portion of the moon? No, it’s not my neighbor’s very bright street lamp. Instead, it is the reflection of sunlight off of the earth and onto the Moon. The sun had set just a few hours before, so the moon is almost directly between the sun and Earth, allowing it to catch a lot of the reflected sunlight. The bright ‘star’ in the upper left is the planet Venus.

You can see a bit more in the Earth/Moon section of my Astrophotography Gallery.

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