Astronaut opens up the window to see the Moon rise

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June 1 2012 1:48 PM

Astronaut opens up the window to see the Moon rise

Seriously, who knew the International Space Station had windows that could open?


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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That lovely time lapse video shows the Moon rising over the Earth's limb. Then, halfway through, the protective covers on the cupola windows get opened, and you can see astronaut Don Petit's smiling face in there!

You can see Don putting on sunglasses as the sunlight hits the dome. This threw me for a second, actually. If the nearly full Moon is rising, that means the Sun should be setting; they're on opposite sides of the sky. So why is the cupola suddenly thrown into light?

I'm pretty sure it's because the Sun was up the whole time, but some part of the ISS was blocking it at first. As the ISS orbits the Earth the Sun's position in the sky moves, so as the Sun was setting it got out from behind what was blocking it and threw the cupola into sunlight. I imagine a minute or two after the events in this video ended, the Sun sank beneath the curve of the Earth, not to rise again... for another 45 minutes.

Image credit: NASA



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