Far-Out Photo: Sunrise in Space

This sunrise was photographed with a handheld camera by astronauts during space shuttle mission STS-127 on July 17, 2009. (Image credit: NASA)

Astronauts orbiting Earth see a lot more sunrises and sunsets that those of us stranded on the surface. They circle the planet every 90 minutes, and the sun just keeps coming.

A new picture of a sunrise from space was taken with a handheld camera by astronauts Friday on the day the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station during shuttle mission STS-127.

Earth's atmosphere appears as a thin crescent shape ranging from white to blue to purple, while the planet in the foreground is a black as the void beyond.

From the surface of Earth, the sun rises because of Earths endless, 24-hour rotation. From here, sunrises and sunsets are often orange or red because the light has more atmosphere to pass through to get to your eye when the sun is near the horizon, and only the red light, with a longer wavelength then blue light, can make it.

The astronauts see little of that from their perch more than 200 miles up, but the effect is still beautiful.

Live Science Staff
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