Well, at least somebody had perfect weather for the Perseid meteor shower over the weekend. Astronaut Ron Garan, orbiting 200 miles above the Earth's surface on the International Space Station, had the presence of mind to mount a camera in one of the station's windows. As the station passed over the night side of the planet, he set it for several long exposures — long enough that in one of them, a meteor shows up, a brilliant, dying ember as it vaporizes in the upper atmosphere.
Here's what he got, posted to his Twitter feed. Click on the image to enlarge.
Garan, who was launched in March on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a six-month stint on the station, has frequently posted mind-blowing pictures from orbit. He and several fellow astronauts started a website, Fragile Oasis, to share what they've been fortunate enough to see.
"It is very difficult to look at our beautiful Earth from space without being moved in some way," he wrote on the site. "One of the main goals of Fragile Oasis is to share this orbital perspective and inspire people to go out and make a difference; to go out and somehow make life better for those with whom they share this fragile oasis. The Fragile Oasis community was established to unite in the common goal of sharing our humanity and improving our world. Let us inspire, recognize, and help each other in our collective quest to make life better on our planet."
"It was very moving to see the beauty of the planet we’ve been given. But as I looked down at this indescribably beautiful fragile oasis, this island that has been given to us and has protected all life from the harshness of space, I couldn’t help thinking of the inequity that exists.
"I couldn’t help but think of the people who don’t have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, of the social injustice, conflict, and poverty that exist.
"The stark contrast between the beauty of our planet and the unfortunate realities of life for many of its inhabitants reaffirmed the belief I share with so many. Each and every one of us on this planet has the responsibility to leave it a little better than we found it."