Moonset, International Space Station, 2014

Photographing moonsets and moonrises never got old, I took literally thousands of photographs of these, but this is one of my favorites. You see the waning crescent moon just before it dips below the earth’s horizon, which happens much faster in orbit than it does on the planet, as we are traveling at 5 miles (8 kilometers) per second. In this image you can see the slight brown hue of the lunar surface. You also see clouds on the earth’s surface, over the Atlantic Ocean.

The distinct lines in our blue atmosphere are also visible with the naked eye, but it does look slightly different in person, you can actually see divisions in the atmosphere that reach higher in altitude with your eye, whereas the camera’s chip captures slightly different delineations. I love the subtlety of this picture, the gradation of tones and the perspective of earth, covered in water and a thin, fragile atmosphere, looking out to our nearest neighbor, our moon, that is barren and lifeless. And beyond that only infinite blackness.

Location: International Space Station, Space
Photograph Date: 2014
Medium: Chromogenic Print
Edition: 200
Available Sizes: 70cm to 150cm

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About the Photographer

Terry Virts

Terry served in the US Air Force as a fighter pilot, test pilot, NASA astronaut, and graduate of the US Air Force Academy as well as Harvard Business School. On February 8, 2010 he made his first spaceflight as pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavor during mission STS-130. His next launch was onboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-15M on November 23, 2014 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to the ISS. In March of the following year, Terry assumed command of the ISS as Commander of Expedition 43. Terry spent 200 days in space on his Expedition 42/43 flight, which is the fourth longest continuous NASA space mission.

He is one of only 4 astronauts ever to have piloted a space shuttle, flown a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, performed space walks and commanded the ISS. Terry has a unique perspective about the earth having taken more photos from space than any other astronaut and being one of the stars of the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet, shooting much of the stunning footage himself. Terry’s photography is featured in his National Geographic book, View From Above.

He is currently traveling the world, inspiring audiences with his stories from space, as well as his unique insights into life on earth, including our environment, global wealth, intercultural leadership, crisis and risk management, innovation, strategy and vision, and decision making.

He is involved in several projects, including filming a new TV show, writing, and teaching leadership seminars.

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