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Earth Matters

What’s Your Favorite Space Station Photograph?

November 20th, 2013 by Adam Voiland

Happy 15th Birthday, International Space Station! The first International Space Station component, the Russian Zarya module, was launched in November 1998. In the years since, NASA and its global partners have built a world-class orbiting laboratory and kept a continuous human presence in space since 2000.

I decided to celebrate the occasion by searching through the astronaut photography collection on Visible Earth to find of my 15 favorites. My goal was to find at least one image for each year dating back to 2000, though I couldn’t resist adding a few extras for some years. I also checked our web traffic statistics to see how well my tastes matched with our readers. In a some cases, my favorites were also popular. In other cases, not so much. (Any other fans of crepuscular rays out there?)

But enough about me. What do you think? In the comments section, please send us the links to your favorite astronaut photographs from the ISS. However, we’d prefer if you send no more than three.  And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of the 15 most popular astronaut photographs on our site.

Sunrise, 2013
ISS036-E-028913 (sunrise 2013)

Elusive Red Sprite, 2012 (12th most popular)
ISS031-E-10712 (red sprite, 2012)

Midwestern USA at Night with Aurora Borealis, 2011 (6th most popular)
ISS029-E-012564 (Aurora, 2011)

Crepuscular Rays, 2011
ISS029-E-031270 (crepescular rays, 2011)

Nile River at  Night, 2010 (3rd most popular)
ISS025-E-09858 (Nile River, 2010)

Sarychev Peak Eruption, 2009 (9th most popular)
ISS020-E-09048 (Sarychev Peak, 2009)

Tokyo at Night, 2008
ISS016-E-027586_tokyo (2008)

International Space Station from Endeavor, 2007
STS118-E-9469 (ISS, 2007)

Total Solar Eclipse, 2006
ISS012-E-21351 (eclipse, 2006)

St. Petersburg and the Gulf of Finland, 2005

Greenhouses of the Campo de Dalias, 2004
ISS008-E-14686 (greenhouses 2004)

Hurricane Isabel, 2003
Isabel_Eye_ISS2003247 (Hurricane Isabel, 2003)

Mount Etna Erupting 2002
etna2_ISS2002303 (Etna, 2002)

Dhaulagiri, 2001
ISS01E6765 (Dhaulgiri, 2001)

First Image, 2000

Earth Observatory’s 15 Most Popular Astronaut Photographs (based on website statistics since 2010)

1. Iberian Peninsula at Night

2. Montreal at Night

3. Nile River Delta at Night

4. India-Pakistan Borderlands at Night

5. Fire in the Sky and on the Ground

6. Midwestern USA at Night with Aurora Borealis

7. Las Vegas at Night

8. Liège at Night

9. Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands

10. Northwestern Europe at Night

11. Mount Tambora Volcano, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

12. Elusive Sprite Captured from the International Space Station

13. Looking Down on a Shooting Star

14. Atafu Atoll, Tokelau, Southern Pacific Ocean

15. Hurricane Earl – The Astronaut View

25 Responses to “What’s Your Favorite Space Station Photograph?”

  1. Dan Mahr says:

    I’ve always loved this artistic silhouette of Space Shuttle Endeavour taken from the ISS during STS-130:

  2. Dr. Zero says:


    My favorite Space Station Photograph is ≪Looking Down on a Shooting Star≫

  3. Rudy DeVeau says:

    “Happy Birthday International Space Station!…” 15 years young
    This is one of my 1st pictures of the space Station way back in 2006
    and it is one of my favorites of the ISS

  4. KATIA says:

    My favorite Space Station Photograph is ≪Looking Down on a Shooting Star

  5. Michiel F.E. van Reenen says:

    Easy. This one: . Because it is a picture of home, from ISS.

  6. Mark Jetmir says:

    The shot “Sarychev Peak Eruption, 2009 (9th most popular)” is just awesome, and today was the first time I saw it, so thanks. My favorite astronaut photograph is not from the ISS; it is from a shuttle — and not even a close second is Astronaut Bruce McCandless with Manned Maneuvering Unit [] and the reason is obvious, but it may still need to be said — he is free.

    That said, if the voting had to involve the ISS, as the case the birthday 15th year; then the shot we Plussers (Google Plus) got on September 30th 2013 from Astronaut Chris Hadfield Expedition 35, gets my vote of favorite

    Image URL:

  7. Lourdes says:

    Looking down on a shooting star its my favorite

  8. Gabriela Brotzman says:

    My favorite Space Station Photograph is:
    Felicitaciones, un verdadero gusto que compartan estas maravillosas fotografías!!

  9. Frantce says:

    this one, for me is the best, the history of the human flight in space is in this picture : International Space Station from Endeavor, 2007 !!!

  10. maria teresa corino says:

    las mejores son las ultimas que vi con la astronauta Karen. la de ella en la cabina con todos los astronautas y el pelo suelto y todos medio que volando. y de las serias las de la aurora boreal y el amanecer. nada mas bello y genial que el empezar de un dia nuevo. graciassssssssss

  11. ghodrat ebrahimpourrendi says:

    در مورد فضا نظریه های جالب و جدیدی دارم. در زمان ممکن ارائه خواهم نمود.
    توانایی من در برخورد با حقایق اولیه و ابراز نظر خوب است
    اگر از ایستگاه فضایی زمین را بصورت زنده ببینم، نظرهای جالبی میدهم
    ممنون – تا بعد

  12. elek C2 Calam says:

    my first choice is Sarychev Peak Eruption- due to occurance & white ball cloud & dust pyroclastic on eruption… next is Nile River Delta at night- beautiful sight the Nile river hence many light along the river banks….thanks..elek

  13. Maria Julia Gomes says:

    This one, for me is the best !!!

    Iberian Peninsula at Night

  14. raghu says:

    All pictures are amazing to watch. Happy 15th anniversary to ISS.

  15. Florence says:

    2011 Midwestern USA at night is beautiful.

  16. Atomic Space Cadet says:

    This photo of HURRICANE IVAN makes me think the ISS is about to go in to a wormhole and travel to the other side of the galaxy!

  17. Giovanna Colombo says:

    Ho trovato splendide tra le splendide le foto di Parmitano e Nyberg

  18. Rita Cafora says:

    Hello, thanks so much, a lot of photos are beautiful, but my first choice is :
    Midwestern USA at Night with Aurora Borealis, 2011 (6th most popular)….

    My choice is this, because I’m a photographer and one of my most beautiful trip was in Greenland to try to immortalize an Aurora Borealis….It was an unspeakable emotion to see,finally an Aurora and to realize your dream….:-)

  19. Alec says:

    I just couldn’t decide between these two photos. All of your photos are EXCELLENT, but these two stood out for me!!!

  20. Carl says:

    Sarychev Peak Eruption, 2009 – right place , right time, awesome.