back to article Space station 'naut supplies Reg with overhead snap of Vulture Central

We've all seen photos of London before, but this one was snapped from 250 miles above the Earth's surface by astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is hurtling round and round the planet aboard the International Space Station at the moment. This is what London looks like from the station. Showing the metropolis at night the orbital …


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  1. Chris007
    Thumb Up

    great photo

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Yes, a great photo, but at first glance, I thought it was a broken touch screen! :-D

  2. David Knapman

    What are the blue dots? Anyone know?

    1. Silverburn

      Noise on the sensor, probably.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Fly spots on the ISS's window. Of the blue crap space fly, obviously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fly spots on the ISS's window. Of the blue crap space fly, obviously.

        Yup. Lazy bastard couldn't even be bothered to wind down the window and wipe 'em off.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OOPS! Forgot to turn off the heads-up sights for the ICBMs.

    4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      If it's a bog standard camera (or even if it isn't) then they're probably radiation interference. Even a height of 240 miles makes quite a difference to the level of radiation that you're subjected to.

    5. Glesga Snapper

      It's noise from the sensor. Given the speed that they would be passing over, a long exposure shot wouldn't be an option (without some sort of tracking camera mount), so they would've needed to crank up the ISO (gain) on the sensor in order to get a usable shutter speed.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Certainly not noise to my eye. I'm with the cosmic rays! The four conspicuous blobs over central & east London are particularly intriguing. Wonder why the blue hue. Highest gain on that signal overwhelms the green & red components?

      Hope we get to see the original!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blue dots

      It's the Tardis materialising at various points in its own timestream, but simultaneously relative to us.

      If you look at the full resolution image, you can see Troughton & Zoe browsing rubber cat suits in a Soho shop whilst Colin Baker is embarrassing Perry in Speakers' Corner by heckling the lunatics.

      Meanwhile, in the south, you'll notice Ace setting light to a furniture store during the Croydon riots, much to the consternation of McCoy, who only took her there to help choose a new armchair for his recently redesigned console room. Immediately after that, he dumped her back in Perivale and went to John Lewis instead, leading us nicely into the TV movie.

      It's all on Wikipedia.

    8. Andus McCoatover

      Blue dots...

      They wouldn't be aircraft, perchance, approaching Heathrow or London city? There are quite a few, which might make sense. Some kind of heat-sensing interference? Just a wild guess....

  3. Chemist

    "so much of history came from this brightly-lit city."

    so much of history came from the country whose capital is this brightly-lit city. - fixed that

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      So much of history came from the "people" that lived in the country whose capital is this brightly-lit city. Although those same people were not necessarily citizens of that same country or from that same city - fixed that.

      1. Combustable Lemon

        Doesn't everywhere technically have exactly the same amount of history? Call me pedantic if you must.

    2. mike2R

      Chip on your shoulder much? London is an awesome city with an awesome history, it isn't its fault it makes you feel insignificent.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge


        >Chip on your shoulder much

        I doubt it, I lived for there for a few years.

        Lets have a quick look at the word history.

        "The study of past events, particularly in human affairs".

        The "People" are what create history. London is what it is because of the "People" that live there, the City itself is just another city. it's the same for all of the cities in the world.

        1. mike2R

          I was actually aiming at the post above yours. As far as distinguishing between the place and the population, I think that when you talk about a city (or indeed a country), it is pretty obvious that you are referring to the place and its inhabitants, not just the geography.

        2. SkippyBing

          At the same time you can argue the people are who they are because of where they live, all cities are to some extent unique in their location. London's location allowed it to become a great trading centre by dint of the river Thames, this trade led to much of the history that the people of London created. E.g. the East India Company, the Hudson Bay Company etc. which then helped shape North America and the Indian Sub-Continent.

          If they'd lived in Madrid it's less likely they would have traded as it was poorly located for that not being on a major waterway. And although Spain had an empire there was less of a trade aspect to it and more of an 'invade the place and take the gold' approach.

          1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


            And although Spain had an empire there was less of a trade aspect to it and more of an 'invade the place and take the gold' approach.

            And what do you think the East India and Hudson Bay Companies were? Some sort of benevolent societies?

            1. SkippyBing

              Re: @SkippyBing

              Not benevolent societies no, trading companies, e.g 'we'll give you these nice wool blankets in exchange for some of those beaver pelts and maybe syphilis'. As opposed to 'show us the city of gold or we kill you, oh and have syphilis on the house'.

              You do get what the word trade means don't you?

              I'm not saying the distinction was that clear cut but certainly the trading companies from the UK were more interested in the trade aspect than the various expeditions sent from Spain.

        3. fixit_f

          London is pretty meh

          And I say this as somebody who owns his own house somewhere on that photo, has lived there for eight years or so now and will continue to do so for the forseeable.

          It's not a bad city, I certainly have no major problems with it, but as major international cities go it's pretty much an also-ran IMHO. Most of the people who live here and love it so much haven't traveled enough to experience proper cities, so spend most of their lives with their heads rammed firmly up London's arse. Don't get me wrong it's not bad - it's just not that amazing either!

          1. cnapan

            Re: London is pretty meh

            Do you live in Penge?

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: London is pretty meh

              "Do you live in Penge?"

              I hear it's very nice, but I've never been there myself.

              Mine's a pint of Large please Neville.

              1. fixit_f
                Thumb Up

                Re: London is pretty meh

                Nope, I live in one of the supposedly "nice" suburban bits. Penge does have the "incorrect dinosaurs" in Crystal Palace park though.

      2. Chemist


        London is indeed a great city - but much of what people think of as 'London's' history derives from people from all parts of Britain -it may appear to outsiders that it came from London but on the whole it passed through London.

        1. mike2R

          But even just considered as a city, London has a great deal of history. Its the formost city in Europe (in my obviously unbiased opinion...). Hell its been around twice as long as there has been a country of England.

          I can understand why people get annoyed at London-centric views, but I think you've fallen into the trap of dismissing it to much. I might have made that point a little less snarkily however - not enough cofee for 9:30am.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Which leads me to brelieve you have never been there!

        it's a toilet.

        the people who live there are insane.

  4. Silverburn

    Cue enviro-tards...

    ...with screams of "so much light pollution! Won't someone think of the...errr...badgers!"

    1. pepper

      Re: Cue enviro-tards...

      I have a hughe disdain for light pollution. Us skywatchers loath it, and I have to travel a significant distant to get some view on Andromeda. No backward watching for me :(...

      I think its mostly skywatchers though, never saw many environmental activists going after the light, they have more important priorities.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Cue enviro-tards... @ Pepper

        I think you are correct it is mostly skywatchers who complain about the light pollution. Nobody bothers to look at the sky anymore. Your point about the environmental activists is funny though, a huge amount of electricity is needed to light up all the bulbs and if they could get rid of them (or at least a lot of them) it would probably do more towards their goals than anything they are doing now.

        Of course you'll have the people who are afraid of the dark coming out of the woodwork claiming that lights keep them safe.

        1. Jim 59

          Re: Cue enviro-tards...

          If all those lights were switched off for a minute, Londoners would see Hadfield gently gliding across the Heavens...

          1. PhilBuk

            Re: Cue enviro-tards...


            More like "whooshing across the heavens". The ISS moves at a hell of a lick.


        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue enviro-tards... @ Pepper

          Sounds like Ray Bradbury - "Fahrenheit 451".....

          "I think you are correct it is mostly skywatchers who complain about the light pollution. Nobody bothers to look at the sky anymore. Your point about the environmental activists is funny though, a huge amount of electricity is needed to light up all the bulbs and if they could get rid of them (or at least a lot of them) it would probably do more towards their goals than anything they are doing now."

      2. Bob. Hitchen

        Re: Cue enviro-tards...

        Rural Cornwall is good.

        1. pepper

          Re: Cue enviro-tards...

          There's even some sort of 'turn of your lights' day if I recall. I do remember seeing a very informative video on light pollution, energy use etc made by a local skywatchers group at a uni. They made it for the board of directors with the argument that there was too much light on the campus. It made a good point about costs though. Bloody expensive lighting up the local neighbourhood, especially without any use 99% of the time. And yes, I know I spend a part of almost each night outside.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    You can see our house from up there!

    Just... it's in that blob of light just to the left as the M1 leaves the frame... probably in the topmost row of pixels!

    1. Chris Rowland

      Re: You can see our house from up there!

      Mine too, top left corner.

      Should have got the scope out yesterday evening, it was the first clear evening for ages.


      1. Gazareth

        Re: You can see our house from up there!

        Do you two live next door to me or something?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vulture Central cannot quite be glimpsed in the image - even in the large version - but we are sort of on the left of the bright bit north of the river.

    Erm... ain't that the Queen's gaff? Something you're not telling us Lester?

  7. auburnman

    First ever space album?

    Sounds like a nice idea, but I hope he takes his other expedition members into account and doesn't overdo it. cooped up in a cramped space station with a wannabe crooner for several months? There's definite potential for his guitar to 'fall' and break.*

    *Yes, even in zero g. Call it a spatial anomaly if you want to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First ever space album?

      His first single will be called 'Ommmmmm'

    2. GettinSadda

      Re: First ever space album?

      Kryten: "Well, at least Mr Lister's Guitar survived intact"

      Cat: {grabs} {breaks}

      Kryten: "Not even Mr Lister's Guitar survived intact"

  8. jake Silver badge

    Question is ...

    Why was the "" page 404 for a couple hours?

    That's gonna drive the conspiracytards absolutely nuts!

    Well played, ElReg, well played. This round's on me :-)

  9. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Made me realise

    Just how big Heathrow is...

    1. taxman

      Re: Made me realise

      That you can fit two Isle of Dogs into the same space.

      Maidenhead shows up well too - just.

  10. CraPo
    Thumb Up

    I don't want to seem ungrateful but...

    the picture is "wonky" and it aggravates my OCD.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't want to seem ungrateful but...

      There there... Just look at any US Midwestern city, and your OCD will be soothed. Nice grid of roads, extending out into the country on a nice mile by mile grid of sectional roads.

  11. Simon Harris

    Giant speaker stacks...

    Hadfield likes to play his guitar in the ISS

    Presumably his songs are very simple and follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.

    1. Isendel Steel

      Re: Giant speaker stacks...

      and if had been written by Paul McCartney would have set him up for several lifetimes...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an Australian

    I am jealous of your fascinating recorded history and outstanding architecture. I hope you fully appreciate it.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: As an Englishman...

      ... living at 3.5,7.5 on that photo (if you make each axis 10), I am jealous of your incredible weather and outstanding sporting achievements. I hope you fully appreciate them....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As a Yorkshireman

      I'm jealous of both of you.

      /nod 2 Ronnies & Cleese

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: As a Yorkshireman

        As a Californian, if I were to purchase a home in the British Isles, it'd be in The Dales. The Whippets would feel right at home, too ;-)

        This round of bitter is on me.

        1. Bob. Hitchen
          Thumb Up

          Re: As a Yorkshireman

          Following Bill Bryson? But I agree London is best avoided dirty smally and full of crooks especially Westminster.

    3. Darryl

      Re: As a Canadian

      I have to second the Australian's sentiment.

  13. Wombling_Free

    Is it just me?

    Or does anyone else get the theme from 'Eastenders' in their head?

    Yes, UKTV guide in the pocket, thats mine.

  14. Valeyard

    do you reckon he span the camera round slowly and started singing the eastenders theme tune?

    who knows how funny being in space can send you...

  15. RainForestGuppy

    S##t I left the outside light on.

  16. SirDigalot


    the mind boggles at the modern connotations of the name, then wonders off into a strange surreal place with flying bunnies and hopping elephants...

    <--- get it? they won't let me take it off anymore, the room is well padded though, like a trampoline on every surface...

    1. BoldMan

      Re: maidenhead

      Try finding a Maiden in that town though... more like Chavhead...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In the playlist? Is that really necessary?

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: Nickelback?

      Considering the man's rather appalling taste in music as evidenced by his playlist, you should be thankful there's no Justin Bieber or Britney Spears in there.

      Regarding the first album recorded in space, that honour was historically supposed to go to Jean-Michel Jarre, with his album "Rendezvous", of which the final part (the saxophone solo) was intended to be played by astronaut Ron McNair while in orbit aboard the space shuttle back in 1986. Except that the space shuttle in question was the Challenger...

  18. JDX Gold badge

    Looks more like a scene from Matrix:Revolutions after Neo is blinded.

  19. Mostor Astrakan


    A nice rendition of the Dread Sigil Odegra there.

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "My Dad's an astronaut"


  21. A Known Coward

    Which camera? Lens?

    Come on, this is a tech site after all, I can't be the only one wondering which camera/lens was being used. I'd love to know what focal length was required to get this shot ... just in case I'm ever staying on the ISS for a couple of nights ...

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: Which camera? Lens?

      He probably snapped it with his mobile phone.

  22. PhilBuk

    Galactic Imposter

    You could put that picture on the NASA site and claim that it was IR image of some deep space phenomenon. Wonder how long it take people to latch onto that?


    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Re: Galactic Imposter

      Ha, you reminded of when I was a kid back in the 70s and 80s. I used to imagine that my city (Adelaide) was a galaxy and that my parents' car (or my pushbike) was a spaceship, with the streetlights representing stars and the nearby houses being the planets that orbited them. The car was of course capable of Warp 9, while my poor little pushbike was only good for Warp 3 or thereabouts. Sometimes we'd go up to Mt Lofty, where you used to have an awesome view of the whole city (they close the lookout at night these days, sadly), and it certainly looked like a galaxy then to my young eyes!

  23. LordHighFixer


    Now I know where to insert the tube to give the planet a proper flushing out. Now if you would all be so kind as to bend over and grab your ankles.

  24. promytius

    AMERICAN perspective

    "Vulture Central" - completely lost on any American viewing this - never heard of it before. Completely confused me when it turned out to be London. Never in 66 years have I heard the phrase "Vulture Central" so I thought you might like to know so that next time your headline might be a little less obscure to those outside of the 'know'

    As for the comments on light pollution, well it's only a problem when you're trying to see the stars, isn't it. Seems to me since they're always there, one could plan a viewing in a non-light-polluted area. To complain that you can't see the stars whenever you want to is just silly. It's a lot worse over here, the stars are barely visible even in the rural areas; may I suggest Celestia or Stellarium, both freeware programs that will show you ALL the stars, even when the Sun is out!

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: AMERICAN perspective

      Welcome to the site.

      "Vulture Central"

      Our logo and mascot is a vulture (see the masthead) and thus Vulture Central is our HQ. A nod to readers who have been us for the past decade or so.

      PS: We really do have a stuffed vulture in the office to greet visitors.


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