Atlantic Canadians are enjoying a unique glimpse of some of the region’s best-known sites from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Hadfield is aboard the International Space Station — which he will take over command of in March — where he is becoming a social media sensation between the array of photographs he’s posting daily and his Twitter exchanges with television stars.
Hadfield has been keeping in frequent contact with his Twitter followers, which now number more than 124,000 up from roughly 37,000 on Jan. 1.
Hadfield, 53, arrived on the International Space Station before Christmas and is scheduled to remain orbiting the Earth until May.
Many of the images coming from space via his @Cmdr_Hadfield account are showing a typical Atlantic Canadian reality: snow and cold.
In one image of northeastern New Brunswick, Hadfield described the Bay of Chaleur as, "The name means 'bay of warmth', but the fingers of ice disagree."
Hadfield also took a picture of Saint John on Jan. 2 and described New Brunswick’s largest city as "beautiful in the sunlit snow."
Canada’s astronaut on the International Space Station has not only been interacting with people on Twitter, he also took time out of his schedule to speak with Nova Scotia students on Jan. 5.
Hadfield took questions from students attending Charles P. Allen high School in Bedford, N.S.
However, he made international headlines for a humourous exchange with William Shatner, the Canadian actor who played Capt. James Kirk in the television series Star Trek.
Shatner tweeted Hadfield, asking if he was using Twitter from space.
Hadfield replied on Twitter, "Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface."
'It almost makes you feel like you're there'
Catrina Russell is one of the growing number of people around the world who are following Hadfield’s journey closely.
Russell said she hasn’t missed any of Hadfield’s images taken from the space station since he arrived last month.
"He's been tweeting every hour since he's been up there, basically. And it's just neat, the sort of things he can share with us. It almost makes you feel like you're there," she said.
Scientists are also seeing value in Hadfield's use of social media while in space.
John Spray, the director of the Planetary and Space Science Centre at the University of New Brunswick, said Hadfield's photos have scientific merit, but they also go a long way in getting people interested in space.
"I think Chris Hadfield is particularly good at communicating with the public and bringing what he does into people's homes. And I think if you see the place where you live from space, I think it makes that important connection," Spray said.
"It's very interesting to see what Saint John looks like or what the Gaspé Peninsula or wherever, around Canada, or around the world. What it looks like from space. It's where we live. And it puts in perspective the planet we occupy. It shows that it's part of a bigger system, part of the solar system."