Steampunk station

Steampunk station

Steampunk station

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 29 2011 12:12 PM

Steampunk station

I can't help but think of Jules Verne when I see this spectacular picture of Europe at night, as seen by astronauts aboard the International Space Station on August 10, 2011:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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[Click to ennemonate.]

It's not so much that the cities shown are Verne's own -- though you can see London (bottom left), and Paris (to the right of the dark swath of the English Channel). It's the color. The brassy lights of the city, some fuzzed by clouds, are classic steampunk.

As you can see from the map, the station was high over the southern British Isles when this picture was taken. The view stretches for hundreds of kilometers, so a lot of major European cities are visible from that vantage point (NASA has a labeled shot to guide you).

We owe a lot to Jules Verne for his soaring imagination, including the inspiration to learn enough to go into space in the first place. I imagine he would have loved to been able to see a picture like this. After all, he predicted it.

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... but upon thinking on it, I realized that, in a way, if only briefly and in name, he did get this view.

Image credit: NASA



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