In the lead-up to New Year’s Eve, Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield grabbed his camera and staked out a spot in the viewing cupola of the International Space Station hoping to glimpse his home country in winter and maybe spot some faint sparkles of New Year’s fireworks emanating from Earth. He only left Earth on Dec. 19, blasting off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in a Russian-built Soyuz capsule bound for a five-month mission. A veteran of two space shuttle missions, in March Col. Hadfield is slated to become the space station’s first Canadian commander.
With the station completing one orbit every 90 minutes, on Dec. 31 Mr. Hadfield crossed the International Date Line 16 times in the 24 hours it took for midnight New Year’s Eve celebrations to creep around the globe. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, he tweeted his photographic findings to his 40,000 followers. Capturing everything from the dull red of the Sahara to the M.C. Escher-esque agricultural patchworks of Southern Ontario, here’s what the world looked like to Canada’s highest-altitude citizen in the closing hours of 2012.
Long Point, Lake Winnipeg: “Like a pointed toe into icy water,” Long Point juts into frozen Lake Winnipeg, wrote Col. Hadfield in a Monday Tweet. Fittingly, the “toe” is rendered in Frostbite Black.
Montreal (South Shore): A record 45-centimetre dump of snow over the weekend made Montreal virtually impassable for anyone without a set of skis or snowshoes. Col. Hadfield captured this image on Dec. 30 just as the clouds responsible were beginning to dissipate.
Toronto: Thousands of Torontonians — including 400 soldiers — worked day and night to create the gray hue seen in this Monday photo of the city. Although the city was slammed by snow just after Boxing Day, by New Year’s Eve armies of shovellers and convoys of ploughs had meticulously removed the snow from the city’s streets and sidewalks. In this photo, only the city’s parks and hinterlands retain the mark of winter.
Ottawa: The Scottish Society of Ottawa and the National Post’s own John Ivison helped organize a traditional Scottish Hogmanay at Ottawa City Hall to ring in the New Year. Of course, even the gaudiest kilt could not be spotted by Col. Hadfield from 370 kilometres up.
Prince Edward Island: In one shot, Col. Hadfield captured Canada’s smallest province piled high with snow and awash in a stormy sea. Many of the province’s 140,000 residents closed out 2012 by dealing with the consequences of weekend storms that, among other things, peppered the island with car crashes, including a motor coach that was blown clean off a highway.
The Alps, Somewhere In Europe: At midnight, the skies over Alpine ski villages exploded with thousands of high-powered fireworks fired from all corners by independent revellers. Col. Hadfield captured this (much calmer) image of the snow-packed mountains only hours before the first celebratory Champagne bottle was uncorked.
Credits: National Post