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Wow! Astrophotographer spots spacewalking astronauts from the ground (photo)

Astrophotographer Sebastian Voltmer captured this photo of spacewalking astronaut Matthias Maurer on March 23, 2022. Voltmer used a telescope to take the image from the ground — from Maurer’s home tome of Sankt Wendel, Germany.  (Image credit: @SeVoSpace/Dr. Sebastian Voltmer/www.apollo-13.eu)

Here's a spacewalk as you've probably never seen one before.

Last Wednesday (March 23), NASA astronaut Raja Chari and the European Space Agency's Matthias Maurer spent nearly seven hours outside the International Space Station, performing a variety of maintenance work. 

Amazingly, astrophotographer Sebastian Voltmer managed to capture a snapshot of the spacewalk action from the ground — and from Maurer's hometown of Sankt Wendel, Germany, no less.

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"Yesterday I witnessed the #spacewalk shortly after sunset. Here comes a first photo. #ESA #astronaut Matthias Maurer was just 'climbing' at this moment. The rod-shaped structure (Canadarm2) is the robot arm. Greetings from Matthias Maurer's hometown — it was very exciting. #iss," Voltmer tweeted on Thursday (March 24).

Maurer is actually visible in the International Space Station image, as Voltmer notes in the annotated image he posted on Twitter along with the above description. And so is Chari, Voltmer added in a Sunday tweet, which he published after taking a bit more time to analyze the photo with the help of photographer Phillip Smith.

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"I feel like I just made a once-in-a-lifetime image," Voltmer wrote at SpaceWeather.com, which featured the photo in its online gallery. "It's probably the first ground-based picture showing two spacewalkers on the ISS at the same time."

Voltmer used a Celestron 11-inch EdgeHD telescope on a GM2000 HPS mount and an ASI290 planetary camera to get the shot, he told Space.com via email. You can find more of his work at his Instagram page and learn more about him here.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.