This Week’s Where In The Universe Challenge

Article written: 11 Feb , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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 Responses

  1. Matthias says

    your car’s front window?

  2. Amy F. says

    It’s London, but I can’t remember by what.

  3. James says

    From the ISS

  4. Nephish777 says

    a city on earth from (ISS?)

  5. travelgirl says

    it’s london, alright… i believe it was taken from ISS; it was an APOD not too long ago…

  6. Salacious B. Crumb says

    Satellite Callisto around Jupiter by Voyager 2.

    Looks like a crack in a blackened pane of glass!

  7. Spacerius says

    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 🙂

  8. Geoff says

    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!

  9. tim says

    Lindon ISS

  10. Jorge says

    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.

  11. Enrico Luchinat says

    London by night. Taken from the ISS.

  12. Paul F. says

    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.

  13. ISS front window after the Iridium and Cosmos 2251 collision.

  14. Peter says

    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?

  15. Dan says

    Taken inside the Space Shuttle-Crack in the front window due to space debris

  16. D.R.R. says

    Earth of course (Nighttime sattelite shot of London England)

  17. ROB says

    Definitely a picture of a window on the space shuttle. LONDON…HUH???

  18. salil says

    looks like a cracked windshield

  19. Gestur says

    London at night, taken from the ISS

  20. Roger B says

    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 !

  21. Adam says

    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.


  22. Ron says

    It’s London, England taken with a digital camara at an altidude of approx. 190nm on the ISS.

  23. alphonso says

    Wow! Busy people!
    I guessed it was Earth at night, but not sure of the city

  24. Steve Newton says

    Its clearly the spot on my windshield where the pebble hit last week.

  25. ioresult says

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

  26. Jamie says

    “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.

  27. gudenboink says

    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!

  28. harrybody says

    Believe it’s a meteor hitting Mars on a Mars night, and maybe the mars reconnaissance orbitter were lucky taking a photo from this.

  29. Dave Bush says

    I believe that would be Callisto.

  30. Karen says

    I’m somewhere in that picture!

  31. RL says

    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.

  32. Geoff says

    Moscow, Russia

  33. Bob Kondrk says

    I believe it is the aerogel cosmic dust collector from the Stardust mission.

  34. Tim says

    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.

  35. ruk ruk says

    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.

  36. Dankwa says

    This one’s easy. it’s a city, not sure which though. New York?

  37. Jesper says

    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.

  38. Matt says

    A photomicrograph of a fracture pattern?

  39. Bill Lobban says

    I reckon it is London by night from about 100 ml altitude

  40. Average Dad says

    Captured interstellar (cometary) material returned to Earth on the NASA Stardust mission.

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