If you long to see the Earth from an astronaut's perspective, explore the wonders of the cosmos, delve into space history or capture your own vivid views of the sky, a book about space photography could hold just the picture. Here are Space.com writers' and editors' picks for photo collections and astrophotography books that will transport you to other worlds.
(We are constantly reading new and classic space books to find our favorite takes on the universe. Our recently-read books in all categories can be found at Best Space Books. You can see our ongoing Space Books coverage here. If you capture a spectacular image of the sky that you'd like to share with Space.com and our news partners for a possible story or photo gallery, send an email to Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
'Hello, Is This Planet Earth?' (Little, Brown and Co., 2017)
By Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake's photo book takes its name from an unusual moment during his six months on the International Space Station — he tried to call his family on Christmas Eve in 2015, but dialed the wrong number instead, confusing the answerer with an unusual greeting: "Hello, is this Planet Earth?"
The book is filled with Peake's favorite photo selections of night and day, oceans and rivers, mountains and deserts, towns and cities, and the Earth overall, as well as the satellites, cargo craft and other gear that made appearances during his time on the space station. His images are interspersed with descriptions of how he captured the photos and anecdotes about his time in space. ~Sarah Lewin
'Spaceborne' (Press Syndication Group, 2016)
By Don Pettit
NASA astronaut Don Pettit's stunning space photographs fill the pages of "Spaceborne," a glossy photo collection that spotlights the ever-changing Earth, streaking stars and the details of the International Space Station. Over the course of Pettit's three space missions, he captured hundreds of thousands of photographs documenting an astronaut's view — and the best of them are collected here.
Pettit's photographs of cities at night feature alongside Earth's natural wonders, auroras and glowing atmosphere, often framed by the space station's outstretched solar panels and modules. Long-exposure photos create psychadelic streaks on Earth and whirling star trails above, taking full advantage of an astronaut's unique vantage point, and Pettit talks readers through the sights and how he captured them. ~Sarah Lewin
'Abandoned in Place' (University of Mexico Press, 2016)
By Roland Miller
In "Abandoned in Place," photographer Roland Miller takes readers on a tour of abandoned facilities that once served NASA's human spaceflight program. The images of unused launch towers, empty science offices and antiquated technology are visually striking, and carry the ghosts of long-gone missions. Miller is a photographer and teacher by day, but he has been photographing unused NASA facilities for thirty years as a side project. Some of the sites featured in the book — particularly those at Cape Canaveral, Florida — are being quickly eroded by saltwater, and Miller, a child of the Apollo era, said he started to feel a sense of obligation to preserve these monuments, which stand as a symbol of one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. ~Calla Cofield
'Infinite Worlds' (Simon & Schuster, 2014)
By Michael Soluri
Packed from cover to cover with stunning images taken on the ground and in space, "Infinite Worlds" tells the story of STS-125, the last crewed mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Photographer Michael Soluri was granted nearly unrestricted access to the mission program leading up to the launch, and the behind-the-scenes images will thrill NASA fans. These masterful photographs capture the bare reality of preparing for a crewed space mission. The book's text includes essays by the astronauts and other mission staff. It also features images taken by the crew during the mission, and of course, images by the Hubble telescope. This is a fantastic addition to any spaceflight book collection. You can see photos from "Infinite Worlds" here or watch a video of Soluri discussing the book and Hubble.
'You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes' (Little, Brown, 2014)
By Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield made a name for himself on social media during his five-month stay on the International Space Station in 2012-2013 by tweeting from space, recording humorous videos and even playing guitar. The Canadian astronaut, like most visitors to the space station, also took innumerable photos looking back down at Earth.
In "You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes," Hadfield has compiled his favorite photos into one tour over the surface of the Earth as seen from space. Besides describing what's happening in the photos, he also compares them to more commonplace sights: desert sand like the storms of Jupiter, sprinkled icing over Australia, the "Eye of the Sahara" and more. On the heels of "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" (Little, Brown, 2013), which offers advice and anecdotes from space, this book takes a step back and lets an astronaut's view (mostly) speak for itself. ~Sarah Lewin
'Planetfall' (Abrams, 2012)
By Michael Benson
"Planetfall: New Solar system Visions" is an oversized tome filled with page after page of alien landscapes — its pages tour Earth, the moon, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the asteroids and comets that inhabit our solar system. Author Michael Benson, who published two previous books of celestial images, created the images by processing raw spacecraft data to reproduce what the human eye would see from each viewpoint in space.
The book is a celebration of the robotic probes and astronaut photographers that have set out to explore the solar system, and the enormous images put the viewer right among the dunes of Mars, on the Moon with Earth peeking over the horizon and alongside a tiny, steam-ejecting moon among the rings of Saturn. And as alien as those vistas look, it's surprisingly easy to feel like you're standing right there. ~Sarah Lewin
We're adding to these lists all the time; let us know your favorites in the comments below!