If you look at a lot of images shot by astronauts on the International Space Station, you might have noticed something is often missing: stars. When astronauts are snapping gorgeous photos of Earth, the stars usually don’t show up well because of the camera or its settings.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet shared some different ISS views this week, and they star a whole lot of stars.
“When you let your eyes adapt to the night, you start seeing millions of stars and it’s amazing,” Pesquet tweeted on Wednesday. The astronaut shared three photos that all show parts of the station and the gentle glowing curve of Earth. But the thick speckles of stars are what draw the eye.
There may not literally be millions of stars visible in the images, but there are way more than you’d want to try to count. The slice of space visible from the ISS shows just a fraction of what’s out there in the universe. According to NASA, some astronomers estimate our own galaxy, the Milky Way, contains at least 100 billion stars.
“You always tend to focus on Earth when you take pictures from the International Space Station, because it’s right there in front of you when you look out the window, in all its splendor and diversity, but there’s also a lot of beauty in the cosmos itself, it’s just harder to see (and to photograph) at first,” Pesquet said on Flickr.
Pesquet is set to return to Earth soon on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. He’s dedicated some of his time in orbit to delivering knockout photos, including this epic aurora image. His skill with a camera will be missed, but he’s cemented his legacy as a standout space photographer.