Even from outer space, Fenway Park is immediately recognizable. That “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” as John Updike famously described it in 1960. “Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg.”
At the time, space programs like Gemini and Apollo hadn’t yet launched. Neil Armstrong was still nearly a decade from setting foot on the moon. It’s unlikely, then, that Updike could have imagined Fenway the way we can see it today—in high definition, but from a great distance. A mossy looking diamond, still in curiously sharp focus in its own way. Here’s footage from UrtheCast’s ultra high-definition camera aboard the International Space Station:
You can see the cars on Storrow Drive! (And even more clearly on I-90.) You can see the Prudential Center and the Hancock Building appear to drift, leaning into their shadows as the camera vantage point changes in relation to the ground.
The whole thing is astonishing, sure, but it’s strange in a darker way, too. UrtheCast offers surveillance data as a service so that businesses can “monitor areas of interest with consistent access to satellite imagery in order to analyze, strategize, and plan,” according to its website. The famous example in the satellite business is the idea that companies will be able to count the cars in their parking lots to track customer flow, estimate revenue, and otherwise contextualize their work.