Amazing Timelapse Video from the Space Station

Article written: 18 Sep , 2011
Updated: 14 Jan , 2016

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.

35 Responses

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

  2. HeadAroundU says

    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

  3. Meaning Business says

    Space Nerdgasm!

  4. The next best thing to being in space…

  5. Anonymous says

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

    • 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.

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

  7. Anonymous says

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

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

  9. Stefan Lamoureux says

    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)

  10. Anonymous says

    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 says

      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?

      • 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!

  11. Member
    Anonymous says

    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!

  12. Debbie King says

    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” i can see the way my dad see’s the other side of the stars…

  13. Nathan says

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

  14. Nathan says

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

  15. Nathan says

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

  16. Does anyone know the flight path?

  17. 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 says

      > 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— ).

      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.

  18. Dawn B says

    our beautiful planet *sigh*

  19. pllopis says

    +1 for exposing the flight path. I don’t really recognize which regions where being flown over at different times. A KML would be great (for loading it up in google earth, for example) if it’s not too much to ask for =D

  20. At about :31 in the movie there is a ‘city’ that is bathed in green light. Anyone know what that is?

    • Thatcher Williams says

      It looks to be Guatemala or San Salvador, The path is along the west coast of California, Mexico, etc going south …

  21. Anonymous says

    I loved seeing the thunderstorms, but more astounding to me is noticing what a thin amount of atmosphere covering this huge planet. It’s so thin, it’s hard to believe it protects us from falling debris and radiation. The thinness of it seems so fragile, like it could be wisped away with one giant solar flare. I love seeing the ISS come into daylight…. simply awe inspiring!!

  22. Matthew Schlotman says

    Wow, just wow! A thousand thank yous. I am blown away by this is a way words cannot express!!!

  23. Anonymous says

    The thunderstorms looked amazing.

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