If they’ve been following their Twitter accounts closely, there’s about a quarter of a million people – including a lot of Canadians– who now know Canberra a little better.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield, an engineer aboard the International Space Station, has built a big following on social media thanks to his regular tweets about life in orbit.
The first Canadian to walk in space, Commander Hadfield is a hero in his home country.
And his sense of fun and connectedness to earth through Twitter has made him known to many more.
In between the business of being an engineer for “Expedition 34”, which on Monday included providing blood and urine samples to be stored at -80 degrees for later analysis and maintenance of the station’s airlock, overnight Hadfield sent back to earth images of cities seen from above, including Canberra.
He accompanied his shot of the capital with the promise that “if you zoom in you can see the circle around Parliament House’’.
Canberra, capital of Australia. If you zoom in you can see the circle around Parliament House. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 22, 2013
Twitter being Twitter, and Canberra being Canberra, among the replies to his tweet was “I hate to say it but Canberra even looks boring from outer space’’.
That’s a pretty subjective view. What the image does show is the Brindabellas to Canberra’s west at the top of the shot as distinct dark green. The city itself is surrounded by the light browns of farmland, with a partly filled Lake George at the bottom of frame.
At the weekend he was part of a video hook-up to ceremonially drop the first puck for the Toronto Maple Leafs first home match of the NHL ice hockey season.
Of course the stunt had the realism of Queen Elizabeth skydiving into the Olympic Stadium to open the London Olympics, not to mention the sight gag of trying to drop an object in a microgravity environment.
While he may sport Ned Flanders looks, Hadfield has enhanced his image of geek cool by playing the guitar at 7.71km per second (the speed of the station in orbit) and also by having a brief Twitter exchange with William Shatner, a fellow Canadian who played Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek.