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Thursday, October 18, 2012

ISS Startrails - TRONized by Christoph Malin

Here is a creative video using photos taken from the International Space Station in style of the old Science Fiction movie Tron. A movie, believe it or not, that I have never seen.

ISS Startrails - TRONized from Christoph Malin on Vimeo.

Do you remember 1982's "TRON" movie? The plot: A computer programmer (epic: Jeff Bridges) is digitized inside the software world of a mainframe computer, where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out. Including light cycle races and strange solar wind ships...

Back in the real word the ISS is in a way one of these solar ships, constantly rotating around us. A tiny white spot, as it can be seen racing over the sky from time to time, when illuminated by the sunset (and sunrise ;).

This Video was achived by "stacking" image sequences provided by NASA from the Crew at International Space Station, see also These "stacks" create the Star Trails, but furthermore make interesting patterns visible. For example lightning corridors within clouds, but they also show occasional satellite tracks (or Iridium Flashes) as well as meteors - patterns that interrupt the main Star Trails, and thus are immediately visible.

The many oversaturated hot pixels in some of the scenes are the inevitable result of high ISO settings the Nikon D3s in ISS-use are pushed to for keeping exposure times short (owed to the dramatic speed the ISS travels). As there are no dark frames or RAW data currently available, hot pixels are not easy to remove.

After the initial stacking, all images have been sequenced with Apple Motion and the Video cut and edited with Final Cut Pro X. Stacked with the StarStaX app, get it here:

All sequences and images courtesy "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth", Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center,

Closing sequence © Christoph Malin / / filmed at Cerro Paranal.

Thanks a lot to my favourite bad Astronomer, Phil at BadAstronomy for first posting the film ( and many many thanks to Vimeo for the Staff Pick!

Great minimal soundtrack "Eileen" by Lee Rosevere (, and a short clip of "Window #3" by Two Bicycles ( VIMEO MUSIC STORE ROCKS!

A truckload of thanks go out to NASA astronaut Don Pettit ( and his colleagues for taking these images, and making films like this one reality!

Finally, please also be aware of Light Pollution ( one can see in many of these scenes! In the US join for preserving the night skies for our children!!

Always believe in your dreams and make it possible!

All the best,
Christoph Malin

PS: At about 1:42 you see Comet "Lovejoy" rising...!/christophmalin