Though his view isn’t very close to the action, NASA astronaut Terry Virts may have the best seat in all of baseball. Orbiting some 250 miles above Earth, the life-long baseball fan hopes to photograph all 28 cities with a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium. His challenge to you? Look at his pictures from space and guess the cities.
Each time Virts photographs a new MLB city, he’ll post the pictures to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. You can follow along and guess the cities using the hashtag #ISSPlayBall.“I grew up in Baltimore in the ‘70s and ‘80s as an Orioles fan and I started a lifelong love of baseball and the O’s. It was my favorite sport that I played as a kid, and I played through high school,” said Virts.
Both day and night shots of cities from Los Angeles to Toronto will be posted on Virts’ accounts. Some of the cities will be disguised in a group of four, while others will be presented as a multiple choice question.
On his first space flight, Virts and the crew of space shuttle Endeavour mission STS-130 constructed the space station’s Cupola, an observatory module. The Cupola’s 31-inch window is the largest ever used in space and now serves as the window through which Virts takes many of his photographs.
Research taking place aboard the orbiting laboratory is helping improve lives on Earth while helping NASA prepare for human exploration missions deeper into the solar system. Virts hopes the images he captures can provide millions of Americans with a different perspective of their city while inspiring them to learn more about the space station.
“This is my favorite thing to do in orbit,” Virts said. “I like to try to think of creative ways to take pictures, from a new perspective, or with new lighting. There is always something interesting looking out the window- if it’s lightning, aurora, city lights at night, interesting geology on Earth, wide angle ‘big picture’ scenes of the Earth as a planet, the moon, planets or even stars- there is never a lack of good subject matter. You just have to be prepared and able to use the camera very quickly and proficiently. At the speed we travel a good picture is often fleeting and only available for a few seconds. It’s also fun to take time lapse sequences that we can turn into movies that brings the view a little more to life. But as good as the camera is, it’s just not even close to the same thing as being here in person.”
In 1947, Jackie Robinson ended the eighty years of baseball segregation, known today as the baseball color line. April 15, which was baseball’s opening day in 1947, has now come to commemorate Jackie Robinson’s memorable career and his place in history as the first black major league baseball player. He made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers (known today as the Los Angeles Dodgers) and he was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
A Jackie Robinson replica jersey is currently on orbit with Virts and might make an appearance on Jackie Robinson Day. His number 42 may have been retired from baseball, but Virts is proudly able to don the number as a member of the Expedition 42 crew.