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Stunning Astronaut Photos Capture Beauty of Earth from Space

Night on Earth and in space
Stars shine above Earth in this amazing time-lapse photo from NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman. It was taken from the International Space Station. (Image credit: <a href="https://twitter.com/astro_reid">Reid Wiseman</a>/NASA)

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman seems to be having a great time living in space, and he is using social media to share his experience with the world.

Wiseman has taken some truly amazing pictures of Earth and the cosmos from the International Space Station since he boarded the orbiting outpost in May. The astronaut usually uses Twitter to beam back pictures from his life in space.

"Enjoying the view on a Sunday afternoon," Wiseman wrote in a post on Twitter (@Astro_Reid) on Aug. 17. "Hard to believe this is real." The image attached to the post shows the astronaut gazing out the cupola, a seven-sided Earth-gazing window on the bottom of the space station. [See more amazing photos of Earth from space]

Sometimes Wiseman's images show cities from space or science experiments on the station, but other posts foster engagement with space fans by asking about the origins of objects and geological formations he spots from the lab.

"Anyone been to this circular island chain near India? I want to know more about this!" Wiseman wrote in an Aug. 13 post. The post included a photo of a blue chain of islands partially obscured by cloud cover.

Almost immediately, Twitter users from around the world started to answer Wiseman's question. It turns out the circular island chain is actually the Maldives. "I was born and raised there," Mauzoom Ali said in reply to Wiseman. "It's an atoll of Maldives. Called Huvadhu Atoll. And its [sic] the largest Atoll on earth."

Wiseman also asked his more than 216,000 Twitter followers to help him identify some odd green lights in the ocean outside of Bangkok, and the crowd happily replied. Many of the NASA astronaut's fans suggested that the green lights are actually attached to fishing boats off the coast of the country.

The green lights attract phytoplankton, which, in turn, attract fish to the boats, according to a Wall Street Journal blog shared by a Twitter user in response to Wiseman's query.

Wiseman has also released some breathtaking, artistic photos of the planet. He has recently started tagging the artful images with the hashtag #EarthArt. In one such photo, the Bahamas are awash in different shades of blue and yellow.

"The #Bahamas make for amazing #EarthArt," Wiseman wrote on Aug. 17.

He also recently posted an image taken during nighttime from the station on a 3-second shutter delay. A multitude of stars and Earth's atmosphere are visible in the photo.

Space fans can also see the photographic ghost of the station in the image posted on Aug. 18. Two objects that look like satellites are actually the edges of the space laboratory's giant solar panels. Wiseman captured the objects due to the longer exposure time set on his camera and the movement of the station.

NASA's Steve Swanson, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and cosmonauts Maxim Suraev, Oleg Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov join Wiseman on the space station. Wiseman is expected to stay onboard the station until November.

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Miriam Kramer
Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a staff writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also serves as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. You can follow Miriam on Twitter and Google+.