Yet another assumption is that the stars
can be seen from space. Certainly it would seem like a logical conclusion,
and the common
belief is that they will seem slightly brighter from space as there is no
atmosphere to interfere with the view. From the Shuttle missions or the
International Space Station we see lots of photos of the stars.
This image is from a shuttle mission, and obviously taken looking towards
the Earth. All photos taken from the
ISS show the Earth too, as there are actually no in-use windows or
portholes facing away
Earth, so as silly as
it may seem, they can not actually see out
to space from the Space Station. Yes, those stars are in space but the
of sight to those stars is through the Earths upper atmosphere. This is
the very most basic thing to understand
about taking photos of the stars from space, some manner of intervening
atmosphere is required.
The only people who have been outside of Earths atmosphere are the Apollo
astronauts on their Lunar orbiting
or landing missions. They had the finest cameras and the most sensitive
films, but as with the Sun, they did not
photograph the stars from deep space. In the case of the stars though,
they did actually try
photos of the
stars, but were unsuccessful. Exposure times were up to 3 minutes, but no
stars were evident.
Apollo 16 image atlas
As well as the lack of photographs of the stars, or planets, there is also
the the confirmation of the utter blackness of space
by way of interviews and transcripts from most of the Apollo
astronauts, as well as from present day astronauts who have
visited the International Space Station and had the opportunity to perform
a space walk. When on a space walk that allows
them to look away
the astronauts all report on the total blackness out there.
During the Apollo 15,16,17 missions, while in trans-Earth coast, in
cislunar space, an EVA was performed to retrieve film
canisters from a camera in an external bay, and to check on experiments
being performed to study the effects of UV radiation
on some biological specimens.
From Apollo 16:
219 37 05 Mattingly (EVA): I'm really
surprised I don't see any stars.
219 37 07 Young (onboard): Charlie's only said 25 times it's black out
219 37 11 Duke (onboard): What?
219 37 12 Young (onboard): You've only said that 25 times. (Laughter)
219 37 14 Duke (onboard): (Garble) see (garble) (laughter).
219 37 15 Young (onboard): It really must be black out there! (Laughter)
219 37 17 Duke (onboard): It's really black! (Laughter)
CC Question 12 for each of you: What do you hope to tell your
grandchildren as your most memorable moment of your trip to the
Well, I'll start with that one, Hank. I had two impressions. The-the
first is the dazzling beauty of Descartes -the surface. It was just
one of the most awe-inspiring sights I've ever seen. And, secondly,
on the EVA, when you look away from the Earth -or the Moon - it's
Just the utter blackness of space. It really is black out there.
And from more recently :
The first professional British astronaut [Tim Peake] said the most
unexpected thing was "the blackness of space".
"We always talk about seeing the view of planet Earth and how
beautiful it is and you come to expect that.
"But what people don't mention that much is when you look in the
opposite direction and you see how dark space is.
"It is just the blackest black and that was a real surprise to me."
Although some astronauts have
reported on seeing stars during the Apollo missions, it can not be
determined just where they were
at the time, and which direction they were looking. Also, during
the Apollo missions, the stars were viewed through the sextant, a
very special piece of equipment that was part of the Apollo
Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) device, an
unit, and the view through the sextant actually showed what the
Star Tracker was seeing. It is the Star Tracker that saw the
human eyes while in deep space. Also, adding to the confusion,
is the fact that during the trip to the Moon and back, the
could not look out of the windows as they were covered up by
reflective, thermally insulated shades, as per NASA
order to reduce solar radiation heating up the interior of the
craft, and in order that the crew could be kept dark adapted.
On page 17 of this pdf file is the reference to sunshafting:
Of course this document adds confusion as to what the conditions
were really like out there. The Sun must have been bright
and hot if they needed to cover the windows, which contradicts
my belief that it is not visible and sends no heat. It also
that the astronauts could not have looked out the windows to see
the stars. Only on reaching lunar orbit were the coverings
or while performing experiments such as the Low Light Level
photography. Quite confusing.
If nothing is visible from space, then how does the Hubble Space
Telescope see the stars?
For a start, Hubble is not in deep space, it is in a low Earth
orbit. Secondly, Hubble does not take pictures as we would
do with a telescope on Earth fitted with a camera. Creating an
image from the data that Hubble collects is a very
complex affair that requires extensive data processing and
algorithms and then some artistic interpretation to produce
the final image.
The heritage of Hubble can be traced back as far as Galileo
Galilei and the Vatican.
One thing that has always puzzled me is why no other space
capable nation has its own space telescope. Hubble was so
I am told, that no other nation can afford to have one, and why
would we need another one if Hubble is available? Well, time on
Hubble is very hard to come by, and only approved observations
will ever get time allocations.
There have been attempts to place smaller, much cheaper
telescopes in space, but so far none have ever got off the
Testbed Paves Way for Amateur Space Telescope
Vintage Micro: The Amateur Space Telescope
It is surprising to me that a country such as Japan with their
ability to get into space and their companies such as Nikon
which produce some very fine cameras and optics, and whos
products are used by the ISS crews to photograph Earth and
its surrounding atmosphere, would not be interested in having
their own space based telescope. Russia certainly has the
capability, and for 'National Security' reasons perhaps, I doubt
they could not afford such a venture.
The reason that there are no simple, space based telescopes with
a camera at the focal plane is that they will not be able
to see anything if they are pointed directly away
from Earth, and there is absolutely no proof that they could.
If the stars are not visible from space then all presently
accepted astronomical models collapse.