Crescent Moonset from space

By Phil Plait | July 31, 2011 10:20 pm

Presented without comment: The crescent Moon, "dark" half lit by reflected Earthlight, setting over the limb of our planet as seen by astronaut Ron Garan aboard the space station:

[Click to embiggen.]

Credit: NASA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: ISS, Moon, Ron Garan

Comments (25)

Links to this Post

  1. Luna Creciente vista desde el espacio « [Px] | August 1, 2011
  1. Nice! I was so ticked that it decided to storm tonight in Boulder for the hour surrounding the time I was going to try to photograph the moon, but there’s no way I could’ve gotten something like that! Phil – I don’t suppose you have connections that can get anyone up to the ISS to try a shot like that?

  2. Thomas

    Thanks, I need new wallpaper (which also happened to be a shot of the moon…)

  3. WJM

    Ron Garan keeps taking amazing piccatures.

  4. Astronomo Austin

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful!

  5. Bigfoot

    Wow; you can see the moon from space?!!! (Sorry; just channeling my inner Jenny McCarthy.)

    This makes a brilliant desktop background, by the way, even though it’s a bit under-res and I had to stretch it.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing!

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Bigfoot : Only from certain relatively very near parts of space! 😉

    If you travel further out than maybe (?Guesstimating here?) about halfway between Jupiter and Saturn (7 AU perhaps?) the Moon and Earth will blur together into a single spot of light just as the twin stars of Alpha Centauri do! Even before you get to Proxima Centauri (4.2 light years) even the combined earth-and-moonlight speck will fade from unaided eyesight visibility.

    From beyond about 50 light years radius our Sun* ceases to be visible without optical assistence. A 50 ly radius is a tiny grain of sand on the cosmic sandpit that is our Milky Way Galaxy. Our Milky Way in turn is but the most minute speck in the wider universe.

    This image was taken on the very boundaries of space hovering over the gravity well of Earth – and it is one superluminously splendid image. :-)

    Seconding your thanks to the BA for this. :-)


    * our Sun’s absolute magnitude 4.82 ie. at 33 light years that’s how bright it’d be. The sharpest human eyes in good dark conditions can see down to mag. six or so I gather. Staggeringly enough our Sun is actually in the top 5% of brightest stars with most stars being red dwarfs, orange dwarfs and white dwarfs.

  7. mike m

    That’s no space station. It’s a moon.

  8. Pete Jackson

    But our Sun could be (barely) imaged from the Andromeda galaxy (M31) if astronomers had a Hubble Space Telescope at their disposal. But they would have no reason to consider it special among the billions of other stars they could see in our galaxy.

  9. Noel

    I like how you can see the night side of the moon due to Earthlight reflecting off of it.

  10. DrFlimmer

    This photo is taken from the southern half of the planet, isn’t it?


    Space is big. Is that what you wanted to say? 😉

  11. Peter Davey

    “Sunset and evening star, and one last call for me,
    and may there be no moaning at the bar as I set out to sea”

    Tennyson (he asked that that poem always be printed last in any collection of his work).

  12. Literally, AWE-SOME. What a great image.

  13. Kevin

    I’ve made many a photograph of the crescent moon and earthshine. But after seeing this, I quit.

  14. Has a lunar eclipse ever been filmed from space?

  15. Now THAT would make an awesome poster!! Beautiful!!!

  16. For Dr Flimmer
    Yes, this pic has been taken from the southern half of the planet. On July 31, 13.51 GMT the ISS was about 1500 miles southwest of Perth (Australia) in the Indian Ocean.

  17. Richard

    This was taken on my 40th birthday, so I’ll consider it a gift!

  18. Stunningly beautiful pic!

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    @10. DrFlimmer : “@MTU: Space is big. Is that what you wanted to say?”

    Pretty much but you know how I like to expand on things and be verbose and all! 😉

    @15. Kevin :“I’ve made many a photograph of the crescent moon and earthshine. But after seeing this, I quit.”

    Don’t quit. You may not get shots quite like that one but you may still take some different but equally or almost equally wonderful ones.

    @11. Peter Davey : Excellent quote. Cheers! :-)

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    @16. Toby Barnett : “Has a lunar eclipse ever been filmed from space?”

    Yes, indeed! :-)

    See for examples :

    taken from the vicinity of our Moon itself as observed by the Japanese space agencies Kaguya spaceprobe.

    Then solar eclipse from space~wise we have :

    from this blog taken by the STEREO spaceprobes studying our Sun. :-)

    Also too :

    Taken by another Japanese satellite, Hinode this time. :-)

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    Oh then there’s this clip :

    taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory too. :-)

    Plus we have this site :

    going back to the original questions lunar variety of eclipse as observed from the European SMART-1 probe. :-)

    Whilst this one :

    is fromthe International Space Station on Youtube. :-)

  22. Messier Tidy Upper

    @16. Toby Barnett : “Has a lunar eclipse ever been filmed from space?” (Again.)

    Okay, just one more for you here :

    because it’s particularly pertinent for that question. :-)

    Originally found coming via this old comment :

    by (#15) Randy (February 19th, 2009 at 9:10 am) in that first Kaguya link for you at #22.

    Sometimes re-reading through old comments and old threads can be rewarding! 😉

    Confusingly enough, Kaguya is also named SELENE :

    Combining occidental and oriental lunar mythologies. :-)

  23. WJM

    Ron Garan needs to stop taking pictchers. He’s making the rest of us look bad.


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