The best of space station astronaut Chris Hadfield's photos from orbit
I struggled with posting this because it's not movie-related (or even entertainment-related) and it seems like a weird way to use HitFix resources, but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn't really resist. After all, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is set to hit theaters on Friday and capture the imaginations of space freaks the world over, while at the same time, we have the homecoming of Commander Chris Hadfield and company from a few months' stint on the International Space Station -- real-life heroes of the cosmos. And Hadfield in particular has been doing what I think is some Pulitzer Prize-worthy work up there. Let me explain...
If you haven't been following Hadfield on Twitter (yes, he's been Tweeting from orbit -- brave new world), you've really missed out on some pretty amazing images of our planet. You may have heard of Hadfield recently as a video of him singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity" went viral this weekend, but I've been following and enjoying his perspective for months. He's dropped plenty of insight along the way, but the crown jewel of all that is the rare gift of a series of images that captures the earth in ways we've just never seen (at least amassed in a collection such as this), and what is that if not journalism at its purest?
I'm not kidding when I say I think he deserves some sort of commendation for this. Because behind every image was the perspective of a (true) world traveler, with plenty of time and care put into it. Every new shot was just an awe-inspiring click of the mouse, and while I'm happy he's home and I know he'll be putting up some stuff he never got around to posting while in orbit, I'll miss that daily check-in with one of Canada's finest. (He's also, by the way, been doing a lot of great work via satellite with classrooms, really doing his part to reignite a spark of passion for the space program in the youth, something we could definitely use.)
So I thought I'd share my enthusiasm with a list of my favorite Hadfield shots via his Tweets and words. You can check them out below (with some thoughts from me scattered here and there), but I encourage you to dig into Hadfield's months-long archive of material at Twitter and feast your eyes on more. Hadfield ended up with over 880,000 followers eventually. It was just, in a word, awesome.
Welcome home to Hadfield and his crew and thanks for the perspective. It was invaluable. And you're home just in time for "Star Trek!"
(Click on any of these for a larger view.)
The first thing that sticks out about many of the images is the vibrant color of the world. Some of the photos look like artwork you could hang on your wall…
African saltwater marsh - an incredibly complex ecosystem like nothing I've ever seen. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 8, 2013
Morning jet traffic over San Francisco. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 6, 2013
Tonight's finale: The Andes mountains have an unbelievable richness of colour and texture when viewed from Earth orbit. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 1, 2013
Tonight's Finale: People ask to see stars - my camera does its best in dim light. Our atmosphere glows in the dark. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 12, 2013
Little nuggets like the following are great and informative, too. I believe Commander Hadfield Tweeted another night photo recently noting the obvious difference in light bulb usage in another area, but this one in particular, given history, is fascinating…
Berlin at night. Amazingly, I think the light bulbs still show the East/West division from orbit. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 17, 2013
Tonight's Finale: I have no idea what this Brazilian outcrop looks like on the ground, but from orbit, it's a brain. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 11, 2013
I mean, look at this. This looks like something out of "2001: A Space Odyssey"…
Tonight's Finale: Canadarm2 blushing with the dawn. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 29, 2013
I love the many snow-covered landscapes Hadfield captured during the winter. They look like gorgeous black and white photography…
Crazed patchwork of farms in Central Asia, a monochromatic 3D hallucination in the snow. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 14, 2013
Spaceships glowing blue in the dawn as we leave Florida headed across the Atlantic. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 12, 2013
Tonight's Finale: Italy, heel and toe. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 10, 2013
I love stuff like this. You can see how fragile key islands are, the sand beneath the crystal clear water, etc. I also love the Florida Keys, so…
The Florida Keys look especially vulnerable from orbit. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 29, 2013
Erie on the left, Ontario on the right, Niagara Falls in the middle. I love this perspective shot. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 15, 2013
Tonight's Finale: Morning in NYC. Downtown Manhattan casts quite a shadow. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 6, 2013
Remember what I was saying about hanging it on your wall…
A lot of the Australian Outback looks like somebody spilled something on it. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 8, 2013
San Francisco - from orbit, the geologic fault lines are readily visible. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 6, 2013
These mouthwatering generous folds of icing are actually Saudi sand. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 3, 2013
And I love something like this, too, because all along the river, you can see how fertile the ground is, with the desert on each side. Just amazing…
Tonight's Finale: The Nile and the Sinai, to Israel and beyond. One sweeping glance of human history. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 20, 2013
And again, that's just a sampling. I really encourage you to kill a few hours one day just looking through the rest. And I believe Hadfield has more coming that he didn't get around to posting up there. It sure would make one hell of a coffee table book.
So thanks again, Commander. You're pretty freakin' awesome.
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