To get the best view of something you often need to step back. And astronauts can step way, way back.
After travelling to the International Space Station 22 miles away from Earth, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi sent back a stunning stream of photographs of our planet, showing the land masses he travelled over, the sun rising over the Earth and the rocket he was on shooting through space.
Noguchi returned to Earth June 1 after a six-month stint in space, but now American astronaut Doug Wheelock may be taking over his role -- heavenly shutterbug.
Wheelock arrived at the Space Station last week after a ride on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft -- Wheelock and Shannon Walker blasted off from Russia's manned-space launch facility in Kazakhstan on June 16 with Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin. And he seems to have immediately taken out his camera and started documenting the trip.
His first image from space captures the southern lights over the south pole, which Wheelock describes as "a breath-taking masterpiece ... like brush strokes from the Master's hand..."
Shortly thereafter, he photographed sunrise over our planet. It's an amazing sight, but one astronauts see more often than you might realize. As Wheelock writes, "we're blessed with 16 sunrises each day!"
Part of the inspiration for these images is a new module installed on the space station February 16. The new module is a Cupola observation dome, which affords the astronauts stunning views of the Earth.
And most recently, Wheelock has captured sunlight reflecting from the Mediterranean sea. After capturing the sight, he wrote on his Twitpic feed "Beautiful reflection of sunlight on the eastern Mediterranean Sea. No borders or conflict visible from space…just breath-taking beauty like this view of the island of Cyprus."
Let's hope his camera lens keeps on clicking!