Why there are no stars in space photos? Or in moon landing photos? Because, when you try to shoot a very bright object (for example, the Earth) and very dim objects (stars) in the same frame, you cannot properly expose both. To be able to see the stars, the bright object would have to be overexposed making it appear as a featureless white blob.
For example, in the photo above, we can see Space Shuttle Atlantis immersed in the total darkness of space. There are no stars in the photo. Is this photo fake?
Of course not.
Because even though the sky is black, it was still “day” here – which means the body of the Earth is not between the Sun and the astronauts on board the International Space Station. In this photo, Space Shuttle Atlantis is illuminated by the sun and, hence it is a very bright object.
Just like at night on Earth, you need to expose your picture for a good fraction of a second or more to see stars. At that point, the shuttle would be completely over-exposed.
This is the same reason why there are no stars in the sky of the moon landing. Not because it was shot in a studio and the world’s brightest scientists just forgot about the existence of stars. No, it’s because all Apollo lunar landings happened during the lunar day and the white space suits and bright lunar regolith were illuminated by the Sun.
Stars are also rarely seen in sporting events that take place at night, for example.
There are no stars in space photos? Actually, there are
Here’s a picture below that might give you an idea of what the sky looks like for astronauts and cosmonauts. This was shot at “night” so you can see the stars but keep in mind that, to the human eye, most of the sky around you looks like this at all times. You just usually can’t capture it in photographs.
I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. Please consider supporting me on Patreon.