Spacecraft Pictures – Looking Back at Earth

spacecraft pictures

Humanity longs to feel as if we can travel amongst the stars, yet this image of an astronaut looking back towards Earth illustrates just how far that goal really is.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on its way to visit Bennu asteroid, taking this black-and-white image en route.

Red Rectangle

Astronomers have for more than three decades studied HD 44179, which is surrounded by an unusual nebula known as the Red Rectangle nebula. Shaped like an X with straight connecting features resembling ladder rungs, NASA believes it may represent what are known as proto-planetary nebulas.

The Red Rectangle radiates brilliant infrared light due to dust surrounding it absorbing and then emitting longwavelength red light, likely caused by gas and dust ejected from a central star in two directions and funnelling through an orbiting disk of doughnut-shaped dust. The Red Rectangle can also be seen shining brightly when seen against blacklight – it glows brilliantly due to this process.

Hubble’s sharpest image reveals a nebula bathed in red light from hydrogen glow, as well as in orange-red light from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules charged by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules.


Astronomers know a great deal about asteroids, the leftover rocks from planet formation that orbit around our sun. Asteroids range in size from dwarf planets approximately 1000 kilometers wide down to rocks as small as 1 meter across.

Scientists use large asteroids in the asteroid belt to trace solar system evolution. They resemble miniature planets with rough and pitted surfaces and dense interior layers of rock and ice, providing scientists with an ideal way of tracking this evolution.

Some asteroids are so recognizable they have their own names. One such asteroid, Ceres (pictured), is the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt; a dark gray sphere with pits and divots named after Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvest and fertility. Astrologers see Ceres’ significance in a person’s birth chart as symbolising fulfillment, loss, grief and re-birth as life cycles unfold over time.


NASA had taken twenty-two Earthrise photos on Apollo 8, but this particular picture became famous and now hangs behind sun-protective glass in astronaut Bill Anders’s home.

On Christmas eve 1968, Apollo 8 crewmembers orbiting above the Moon caught sight of Earth through one of their windows on Christmas eve and saw its blue-green surface through one window in their spacecraft. This image became one of the most famous images from space; appearing on posters and postage stamps worldwide and inspiring environmental activism movements to raise people’s awareness of our fragile home planet. Notably, however, religious people used this photo to combine religious interpretations of space travel with space exploration views; although in Holland such views did not cause such controversy due to existing whole Earth TV images which had already done this effectively.


Moonrise is an unforgettable moment when the Moon first rises over Earth’s horizon, depending on your location and day/night cycle. Due to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, its arrival can vary depending on when or where it appears first.

This motion causes the Moon to move 13 degrees daily in its sky position, forcing Earth’s rotational speed to slow and thus delaying Moonrise by 50 minutes each day.

Farmer’s Almanac provides an easy tool that lets you enter your ZIP or postal code to discover Moonrise and Sunset times for your location. Use this information when planning your nightscape photography shoots – then be ready to capture stunning shots of the Moon!

Great Exuma

Space is home to numerous round planets and cloudy nebulae, but in this Hubble image of a dying star you can clearly see its gas emissions taking on the shape of a rectangle.

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station managed to capture this breathtaking photo of the Bahamas by carefully controlling a long lens while weightless. It features enough details that it even shows a white airplane with condensation trails trailing behind.

Tidal channels carved through small islands in the Bahamas stand out even from 400 km up, serving as an eye-catching reminder that we live on such an intriguing planet. World Space Week begins today; may these images serve as a celebration.

Scroll to Top