If you were plucked from 1914 to watch a high-definition, time-lapse video of Earth from space, there's a good chance you'd either weep or faint. A century later, though, we're spoiled by so much amazing footage from orbit that when the majesty of our planet roars at us, many of us respond with a yawn.
Yet the beauty of Earth — and the sprawling space around it — remains inherently awesome. We just need to occasionally remind ourselves what we're looking at.
The video above offers a helpful reminder. Titled "Astronaut," it uses 80 gigabytes of photos taken by the International Space Station (ISS) crew and stitches them into a cinematic, three-minute tour of our planet from 200 miles overhead. Some of the imagery has already been featured in other time-lapse videos, but graphic designer Guillaume Juin puts it together in a way no one else has.
The smooth, high-speed exploration of low-Earth orbit is a "stunning" and "formidable" piece of art that photo blog PetaPixel calls "bar none the best edit of ISS photographs and footage we have ever seen." No wonder it has been watched more than 280,000 times on Vimeo in less than a week.
Earth is the clear headliner of this video, but there's also a scene-stealing co-star: us. Not only can we watch our cities illuminate the globe like a Lite-Brite, but we see it all through the frame of the ISS, highlighting the enormous human achievements that have paved the way to space. We may be plaguing our only planet with climate change, deforestation and other environmental missteps, but the fact we've even figured out how to leave Earth — and that we're still compelled to look back in awe — at least offers hope we'll figure out a way to live here sustainably before we're forced to leave forever.