Rocky Mountain (very) high

By Phil Plait | June 4, 2012 9:54 am

I don’t have a lot to add to this incredible picture taken by astronaut Andr√© Kuipers of the Dragon capsule as it approached the International Space Station on May 25:

[Click to embiggen.]

Isn’t that spectacular? Actually, I will add something: the caption for this post indicates it’s over the Rocky Mountains. I got excited for a second, thinking maybe it was near my neck of the woods. But then I realized the icy mountaintops look nothing like they do here in Boulder. I checked anyway, and on Wolfram Alpha I found the picture was taken over Vancouver Island, which is where my friend Fraser Cain from Universe Today lives!

Huh. Small planet.

[P.S. Speaking of Fraser, I’ll be doing a live video star party with him, Pamela Gay, and many others for the Transit of Venus Tuesday. We have telescopes lined up all over the world to view this last-chance-in-a-lifetime event! Stay tuned for more info, but I’ll have the chat embedded here on the blog when the time comes.]

Image credit: ESA/NASA

Related Posts:

When a Dragon mated the space station
Update: the Dragon capsule as seen by the ISS
SpaceX Dragon on its way to the ISS!
Dragon hunting above, dragon hunting below

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures

Comments (11)

  1. RdeG

    If that’s Vancouver Island, then it’s not the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies are ~800 km to the east.

    But that looks more like the Coast Mountains north of Vancouver (which is neither Vancouver Island nor the Rockies). Specifically, here:,-124.362488&spn=0.83362,1.562805&t=h&z=10. Then again, it’s probably only 10 seconds away from Vancouver Island at ISS-speed.

  2. CoffeeCupContrails

    Just popped in to scream… “FRACTALS!!!”

    Also, for those really confused about when to look for tomorrow’s transit, WolframAlpha is awesome.

    Tells me the exact time and illustrates what I can expect to see from Cincinnati. Sa-weeet!

  3. Phil – while the mountain may be rocky , if it’s over Vancouver Island then it is not the Rocky Mountains – those would be about 800km east of there :) The Vancouver Island Mountain chain is part of the Insular chain that runs down the coast of BC and through the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island – they are part of the Pacific Coast Range

  4. Trebuchet

    The terrain, to me, actually looks more like the Rocky Mountains than Vancouver Island. Google Earth, here I come!

  5. Jiminy

    It must be right over the center of the island over the Strathcona Park area. We don’t have a lot of really big mountains ( not compared to the rocky mountains) although many of those in and around the Strathcona Park area do have snow on the alpine areas well into June.

    It’s a pretty tight shot, if it had been much wider it probably would have shown more green around it. Like I say, the areas that have snow on it is a pretty small section of Vancouver Island.

    If anyone does look at Vancouver Island with Google Map, check out Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park, up on the north western area of the Island. It is about the only spot in Canada that escaped the last ice age.

    Imagine, all of Canada covered with a sheet of mile thick ice except one little peninsula on the edge of an Island. Disney should make a half billion dollar movie about it that no one will watch.

  6. kevbo

    Holy moly, there’s a lot of us Republic of Vancouver Islanders on this blog…

  7. Hey, as everyone said, we don’t have any Rocky Mountains here on Vancouver Island. We have the Coastal Mountain Range over on the mainland, and then a series of ranges here on Vancouver Island. Our tallest mountain is a mere 7,208 feet – nothing like that monster you dragged me up last year in Boulder.

  8. Avattoir

    Jiminy: “about the only spot in Canada that escaped the last ice age.”

    With due regard for your albio-vespuccian centricity and all that rot, the only of those spots I’ve seen, smelled, touched, rode around and slept under the stars on is Cypress Hills on the AlSask border (home of the world famous — scratch that — obscure yet beloved Elkwater Rodeo). The view of Jimmy Wales’ nibbelungian horde, which mentions the others, in the Gasp√©, the Yukon & the Arctic:

  9. Craig Hartel

    I added the extra 22 seconds into the UTC time stamp, and found that this is indeed the Coast Mountains, and it is on the BC mainland just east of Vancouver Island. The long body of water you can see in the photo that runs south to north is Bute Inlet. The nose of Dragon is basically pointing right at the inlet.

    Here are the coords I used in Google Earth: 50.75 n, 124.4 w – Eye altitude of approx 113km.

  10. Is it sad that most readers won’t catch the John Denver reference?

  11. Craig Hartel

    #10. @Phillip
    I hear ya! But in this case, it would have to be “Coast-y Mountain high, British Columbia…”

    Doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way, does it?


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