Astronaut’s Timelapse Of Earth, The Milky Way, And Stars Taken From Space

Alexander Gerst, the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut who spent 6-months on board the International Space Station (ISS), recently turned to Twitter to give all space enthusiasts an early (and virtual) Christmas gift. The “present” is a 6-minute time lapse film of Earth, comprised of thousands of photos taken by the German astronaut during his 166-day stay in the floating habitual artificial satellite.

The film was released on December 25th, and is comprised of roughly 12,500 photos, all of which were taken between the months of May 2014 and November 2014. In order to capture the images, Gerst used the high-definition cameras (boasting 4k-quality power) on the station, even implementing an intervalometer to activate them at different intervals of time when he was busy conducting research or lab work.

The conglomerate of photos was released by the European Space Agency on YouTube – roughly a month after Gerst’s return from Earth’s low orbit back in November 10th, 2014. Although terse, the film offers an exceptional glimpse into space within its 6 minutes. Viewers will get a look at rare photos of Earth, taken from different angles and during various times of the day. Also included in the film are images of auroras, sunrises, lightning, cities at night, the ISS, the Milky Way and even “the thin band of atmosphere that protects us from space.”

Although the video is not the first of its kind, Gerst’s time lapse is the first in history to use photos exclusively taken by a single person. In the past, in order to create this type of film, space fans utilized ISS publicly released photos of Earth, which were subsequently edited together using computer software.

For Gerst, the project was a good way to get people excited about space, “Seen from a distance, our planet is just a blue dot, a fragile spaceship for humankind.”

“We need to understand the universe we live in to protect our home,” he states.

* To watch the film on Youtube, click here. The European Space Agency recommends viewers to watch the video at the maximum resolution of 4k in order to achieve the “ultimate space experience.”