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Amazing Timelapse Video from the Space Station

Science educator James Drake built this amazing timelapse video from the perspective of the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America. He created this video by downloading a series of 600 photographs that were available online at the Gateway to Astronomy Photograph of Earth, and then stitching them together into a complete video. You can see more of James work at his blog: infinity imagined.


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fraser Cain September 18, 2011, 12:36 AM

    I’m just entranced by this video… do you see all the thunderstorms? Again… amazing!

    • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 6:51 AM

      That was the thing that caught my eye more than anything, Obvious, but it never occurred to me that lighting would be so visible from up there.

    • Debbie Schow September 18, 2011, 6:59 AM

      I was wondering what the lights were…of course, lightning

    • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 8:04 AM

      er, make that lightNing

  • Sébastien Pérot September 18, 2011, 1:36 AM


  • HeadAroundU September 18, 2011, 1:53 AM

    Yeah, it’s great and it needs to be done again and better. 24 pics per second.

    It took me like 10 seconds to realize that those blinking lights are lightnings and not Japanese people. :d

  • Arno Shahmoradian September 18, 2011, 2:27 AM

    I’m speechless…

  • Meaning Business September 18, 2011, 2:57 AM

    Space Nerdgasm!

  • Warren A. Shepherd September 18, 2011, 3:00 AM

    The next best thing to being in space…

  • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 3:21 AM

    At approx. 0:55 a satellite(?) appears for a few seconds at the top center of the field! Simply stunning.

    • Bonnie Bronleewe September 18, 2011, 10:38 PM

      I think that’s part of the same satellite that is taking the pictures – It’s there all along, but nearly invisible against the black sky until the rays of sunlight light it up just seconds before the sun comes over the horizon.

  • Dean Barry Postings September 18, 2011, 3:36 AM

    I have just converted this to a wmv file and have it as my desktop wallpaper. using dreamscape in windows 7

  • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 6:56 AM

    Fantastic, if I get those 600 photos, set them as wallpaper and change every ten seconds it will be almost real time.

  • Debbie Schow September 18, 2011, 6:58 AM

    A true sense of awe and wonderment…thank you for your work here…amazingly beautiful

  • Stefan Lamoureux September 18, 2011, 7:24 AM

    This is something new! WOW! I love it, really this was a real experience, I felt like I was in space! The lightnings and all, it was crazyyyyyyyy!
    Thanks spce folks (not to say astronaut, cosmonaut and all the rest)

  • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 2:06 PM

    Lovely – a wonderful achievement by all of mankind – – but did you all notice that the lightning was far eclipsed by the billions of watts of light from all the cities and towns??
    blah blah blah – we are using up all of the fossil fuels at an accelerating rate etc… but to see it is to begin to grasp the reality.

    • Anonymous September 19, 2011, 5:30 AM

      You miserable g*t.
      There’s always someone that has to ruin everything with an “it’s all going to end horribly you know” ‘prophecy’.
      Why can’t you just enjoy the pictures and revel in the science and the achievement?

      • Roland Prähofer September 19, 2011, 3:07 PM

        I don’t agree. The fact that our predecessor mentioned his concern about the planet only shows that he knows the facts.
        Does this concern ruin anything? No.
        It’s still beautiful!

  • Anonymous September 18, 2011, 6:49 PM

    Now that is a far out sequence of images! I like!

    In 1981, while flying to Miami from LA, the flight flew south along the Florida peninsula at +30K feet. A similar, though much smaller scale, light show appeared below us as numerous thunderclouds popped off. Very, very cool to see lightning from above, at any altitude!

  • Debbie King September 18, 2011, 11:41 PM

    wooooooooooooooooow….talk about take me to the moon……when i was a kid, my dad often shown me the beauty of a clear star’y night…..looking up together and counting the stars…but just now that was “heaven”..now i can see the way my dad see’s the other side of the stars…

  • Nathan September 18, 2011, 11:44 PM

    Nice!!! I would like to see this in 3d and a bit slower, and with a beer.

  • Nathan September 18, 2011, 11:44 PM

    Nice!!! I would like to see this in 3d and a bit slower, and with a beer.

  • Nathan September 18, 2011, 11:44 PM

    Nice!!! I would like to see this in 3d and a bit slower, and with a beer.

  • bodysurfinyon September 19, 2011, 1:04 AM

    Does anyone know the flight path?

  • Abe Megahed September 19, 2011, 5:34 AM

    This video is fantastic! Love it. Mezmerizing. Hypnotic. Magical.

    It does seem to point out how poorly NASA does marketing for itself. I’ve seen a number of wickedly awesome videos created from NASA imagery that were done by people outside of NASA. Why didn’t NASA think to do this (and release it to the public)? On the plus side, it’s cool that NASA made the images available at the Gateway web site, although in not a very user-friendly form, as usual.

    Thanks, Mr. Drake (and Mr. Cain)!

    • Anonymous September 19, 2011, 3:56 PM

      > I’ve seen a number of wickedly awesome videos created from NASA imagery that were done by people outside of NASA. Why didn’t NASA think to do this (and release it to the public)?

      Because there’s broad public agreement that we should cut spending, but if you ask people how we should change the funding for each individual government program, for every one, they say to increase it. But there are two exceptions—two programs people from both parties agrees we should reduce funding for. They are “NASA” and “foreign aid”.


      So, politicians are told that if they don’t cut spending, they’ll be fired, but if they also cut spending on any one program, they’ll be fired. Then they’re told by budget people that the only programs they’re allowed to cut make up 1% of the budget, so they’d both have to be eliminated completely to make even a tiny dent.

      Then people from those programs say “we’d like to open a second, larger animation division focused on popular entertainment.” (NASA already has an animation division, SVS—http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/ ).

      Saying yes to the animation studio is the only option available to the politician that makes everyone angry. It goes against both (contradictory) voter wishes, AND angers the budgetary accountant, who’s standing by the door waiting to hear if NASA and foreign aid are going to be eliminated or—as a compromise between voter wishes and high-minded ideals—merely slashed.

      • Michael Bramblett September 19, 2011, 4:51 PM

        Well said.

  • Dawn B September 19, 2011, 5:34 AM

    our beautiful planet *sigh*