Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise ...

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has really cornered the market on photographing sunrises and sunsets from space—not that he has much competition. But did you know that Kelly sees more of them than people on Earth do? Much more.

The International Space Station travels at a brisk 17,100 miles per hour. That means it orbits Earth every 90 minutes—so it sees a sunrise every 90 minutes. Thus, every day, the residents of the ISS witness 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets.

The sunrise seen above was captured by Kelly. Here’s a sunset:

That fuzzy line hugging the planet, called the terminator, is the boundary between day and night. On the ground, we experience the terminator as dawn or dusk.

Kelly is in the middle of a 342-day mission on the ISS. In that period of time, He will see 10,944 sunrises and sunsets. Down here, we’ll see just 684.

As we noted earlier, when Kelly returns to Earth next March, he will have set the record for the longest spaceflight by an American, at 342 days. He also will have accumulated 540 total days in space, another U.S. record.

But for the record for the most time spent in space ever, we must turn to the Russians. Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who returned from the ISS over the weekend, has spent 879 days in space over five trips. That’s more than two years in microgravity.