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Stunning star trail photos from the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Don Pettit takes some amazing long-exposure photographs from space.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.

At least, we hope that song is running through the mind of Don Pettit, Expedition 31 flight engineer for the International Space Station (ISS). He has taken a range of long-exposure photographs of space with his collection of cameras, including a Nikon D3S. He described his process of creating these composite long-exposure images:

My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures, I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then "stack" them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.

See the stunning composite images at the ISS Star Trails set on Flickr.

To make you even more envious of Pettit's job, check out his on-board photographic equipment below.

Pettit poses with "several still cameras" on the ISS. Understatement of the year! See a higher-resolution photo here. (Credit: NASA)