Sunday, 10 April 2016

Space Shuttle Streaming Through the Clouds

Over the past few weeks a lot of people having been forwarding me this image and asking if it's real...

In most cases it's claimed that this photo was taken from the International Space Station, of a space shuttle launching through the clouds, along with some comment on how small everything looks from outer space.

Is it real? Yes, mostly.

I've tracked down what I believe to be the original image and it's Space Shuttle Endeavour launching on May 16, 2011. As you can see below, the original photo doesn't have the same "small world" effect as the one above, which has also been further enhanced with some colour changes and sharpening.

Image source: NASA
Click the images for full-size versions.

There are several ways to achieve the "small world" effect. It can be done in-camera using a tilt-shift lens or (to some extent) simply by reducing the depth of field. In this case though the effect was obviously added afterwards by blurring parts of the image.

By the way, the photo wasn't taken from space, it was taken from a training aircraft that was observing the launch.

I haven't been able to trace the edited image to any particular source so I can't credit it (let me know if you can help with that) but it's a nice effort to be sure. Well done.

Here are a few more genuine examples of launches seen from above the clouds...

Space Shuttle Endeavour, 16th May 2011.
Credit: Lorrie "Bird" LeBlanc

Space Shuttle Endeavour, 16th May 2011.
Credit: Lorrie "Bird" LeBlanc

Atlas Rocket, September 2001.
Credit: Tech. Sgt. Rodney Jones/USAF

Space Shuttle Challenger, June 18th, 1983.
Credit: NASA

And my favourite... Delta II launch, June 7th 2007 (look closely in the background, below and to the right of the Sun):