Space Station Streaks Across Pleiades Star Cluster in Striking Amateur Photo

ISS Soars, Pleiades Star Cluster Shines Over Pisa
This image shows the International Space Station passing over Pisa, Italy with the blue Pleiades Star Cluster shining in the background. Giuseppe Petricca sent this image to on Feb. 10, 2014. (Image credit: Giuseppe Petricca)

The International Space Station streaks through the night sky over Pisa, Italy, as the bright blue Pleiades star cluster glitters in the background in this amazing photo recently submitted to

Amateur astronomer Giuseppe Petricca took this image of the Pleiades star cluster, which is also known as M45. It is an open star cluster formed about 100 million years ago and its brightest stars glow a hot blue color. Scientists estimate the young, recently formed stars in the cluster will burn out quickly, likely in the next 200 million years.

"It's always a waypoint in the winter skies, opening the way from Perseus to Orion," photographer Petricca said of Pleiades in an email to "But, yesterday, above Pisa, Italy, the International Space Station made a beautiful passage, and it crossed next to the cluster." [See more amazing February night sky photos by stargazers]

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The Pleiades cluster is a group of 800 stars located in the constellation Taurus, about 410 light-years from Earth. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for She began writing and producing content for in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.