During a flight back home from a recent business trip, I was lucky to get a window seat. I was thinking of the possibility to see some stars of the night sky above the clouds and I wasn’t disappointed. The flight was held entirely during night time with cabin lights turned off. This was crucial because cabin lights are an additional light source which make unwanted reflections visible. The reflections usually overcast faint light sources such as stars. I took some photographs with my smartphone Samsung Galaxy S22 at exposure duration of 20-30 seconds and ISO 3200. The exact location of the photograph is unknown, it must have been somewhere in a part of south-eastern Algeria over the Sahara desert while looking to the east. I would estimate the position as follows: 23° North, 8° East, flight attitude 11 km (36 000 ft).
I made about a dozen pictures of the night sky but due to minor turbulence and slight flight course corrections, most of the images were shaky and had to be discarded. However, I was able to get 1-2 pretty decent pictures of the night sky which turned out to be OK. I was pressing my smartphone against the window to avoid shaking motion and put a pillow over it to block most of the residual (emergency) cabin lights.
The taken pictures show some prominent stars from the constellations Cygnus and Lyra: Vega, Deneb, Albireo and others. I was able to identify some stars by using an web-based star map application such as Stellarium Web. During the flight I could observe meteor flashes occasionally (no picture taken though) and lightning of distant thunderstorms, which were perhaps >200 km away. There were virtually no city lights visible during the flight over Sahara desert. Just imagine being there and watching the night sky without any light pollution…
The 8-hour-flight was very tiring because of lack of space to move and stretch. Sitting for hours in an uncomfortable position wasn’t very pleasant but it worked out somehiw. However, I was able to catch some nice pictures of the world 11 km below my feet. #worthit