This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge

Its time once again for another Where In The Universe Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to test your skills and knowledge of the cosmos. Guess where in the Universe this image is from, and give yourself extra points if you can guess which spacecraft is responsible for the image. Post your guess in the comment section (no links to hints please!) and check back tomorrow for the answer. Good luck!

UPDATE (2/14) The answer has now been posted below!

Did you recognize this intriguing globular cluster of stars? Just kidding! — it’s actually the constellation of city lights surrounding London, England, here on planet Earth, as recorded with a digital camera by astronaut Don Pettit from the International Space Station. Taken in February 2003, north is toward the top and slightly left in this nighttime view. The encircling “London Orbital” highway by-pass, the M25 , is easiest to pick out south of the city. Even farther south are the lights of Gatwick airport and just inside the western (left hand) stretch of the Orbital is Heathrow. The darkened Thames river estuary fans out to the city’s east. In particular, two small “dark nebulae” – Hyde Park and Regents Park – stand out slightly west of the densely packed lights at the city’s core.

The crew of the International Space Station acquired this image shortly after 7:22 p.m. local time on the evening of February 4, 2003. Either thin, low clouds or perhaps fog is evident in the fuzzy character of patterns for some of the surrounding smaller cities while that of the warmer urban center is still clear and sharp.

For more info on this image see here and here.

Check back next week for another WITU Challenge (and sorry for the delay in posting the answer this week!)

44 Replies to “This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge”

  1. Satellite Callisto around Jupiter by Voyager 2.

    Looks like a crack in a blackened pane of glass!

  2. London UK – Planet Earth
    February 2003 at night from ISS
    Typical Anglo-Saxon structure:
    Orderly centralized
    Motorway round the city, visible clearly south of the city
    or is it a place bullet hit a bulletproof glass 🙂

  3. There’s no mistaking London UK at night with its distinctive M25 orbital moorway and the radial A and M roads leading away and/or towards it.
    Maybe ISS – but probably isn’t!

  4. This is the Earth, of course, a night shot of one of the great cities in the planet. Having seen this image before, I’m slightly ashamed of not being able to name the spacecraft (the ISS, maybe? That’s kinda the default answer for this kind of image), but I think the city is London. Paris and Moscow, among others, would be quite similar, though: they have the same kind of circular plan.

  5. Yeah , most likely London. And by the looks of it taken by a standard digital camera, so probably taken from the ISS by an astronaut.

  6. Isn’t it fascinating how a city can resemble a galaxy field, a crack in a window, the first tests at the CERN in switzerland, or whatever else people see here? Does that not suggest some basic order to things and a recurrent theme in fractals?

  7. Yup – unfortunately that is London at night. You can clearly see the M25 motorway circling the city. And all that light is wasted energy and preventing our people from connecting with theirr heritage in the skies !

  8. London at night seen from ISS. A Russian cosmonaut was once looking at Paris under similar circumstances (I don’t remember which space craft or station it was) and likened the view to an almost put out camp fire. He was pretty close I think.


  9. “Ron says: “190nm”. What?
    It’s more like 2 billion times that distance: 350km.”

    I believe he meant Nautical Miles in which case he is correct.

  10. The border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan – just at the instant it is hit by a 2 bazillion mega-ton nuclear war head…………..

    Wishful thinking……… woops- did I say that out loud??

    I’m KIDDING!!!!! Besides, They would have pulled our troops!

  11. I’m going with my fall back answer: Alderaan.

    My other answer was going to be some-kind-of-nebula. But I’m going with Alderaan.

  12. Since everybody else is saying UK… I’m going to guess it’s Washington, DC taken by the ISS. Of course, it could be any city on earth with a fairly large population. It appears that there is the outline of a major body of water to the right.

  13. It’s a Spider Nest Nebula with a supermassive black hole on the center of it. It was taken by Canon Ixus Spacecraft in early morning sunrise. The yellow lights surround it suggest that this nebula is rich of dew and in the process of creating new stars.

  14. At first I thought this might be a city on Earth. But something’s not right: the center is much brighter than the surroundings.

    So I think it’s a volcano on some planet.

    My answer: A volcano on Io.

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