After his first space mission, Jay Apt felt that the view from orbit should be shared with the widest possible audience. He and NASA geographers Mike Helfert and Justin Wilkinson reviewed all 268,000 photographs of Earth taken by NASA Astronauts over 30 years of space flight. Together with professional photographer Roger Ressmeyer, they selected 156 of the most moving and spectacular for the book Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth. Extended captions describe the changing Earth as revealed through the astronauts’ photographs.

Orbit book coverOrbit book cover

NASA ordinarily releases copies of copies of copies of the original photographs, with resulting loss of clarity. Orbit represents the first use of digital scanning of the original flight film to bring out the sharp details seen by the astronauts.

Pictures taken in space contain more blue than your eye sees from orbit, because the ultraviolet rays of the sun are reflected off the atmosphere into the camera. The digital techniques used in Orbit allowed digital expert Ressmeyer to correct the hue of the photos to what Apt’s eye saw. The result is a set of photos that exactly capture the experience of looking at Earth from orbit.

These same digital techniques have been used to create the images Jay Apt uses in his programs for live audiences. You will have a front-row seat to experience Earth from orbit!

Bryant Gumble interviewed Jay about Orbit on NBC’s Today Show. A video clip is available here.

Over 600,000 copies of Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth have been sold in 11 languages.

NGM Cover November 1996

Jay Apt wrote the cover story for the November 1996 National Geographic Magazine based on the research done in writing Orbit. 7,500,000 copies of that issue were sold.

Orbit: The Book


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