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Space station astronaut shows off camera kit behind stunning Earth shots

What wouldn’t a keen aerial photographer give for a place on the International Space Station? The shots posted on social media by astronauts past and present are, more often than not, jaw dropping, offering a stunning perspective on the beauty and diversity of our unique planet.

British astronaut Tim Peake, who arrived on the ISS in December, has been regularly posting pictures on Twitter and Flickr, including sun glints striking Canada’s Vancouver Island, the volcanoes of eastern Russia’s amazing Kamchatka Peninsula, and the awesome sight of Asia’s Himalayas from up high. He’s also captured the massive spread of smoke from the recent Alberta wildfire, as well as Italy’s Mount Etna having what he called a “cheeky smoke.” Check out some of the images in the gallery above.

Responding to the often asked question of what gear he uses to capture these shots, Peake recently posted a photo of the kit itself.

From the image we can see that the astronaut makes use of five pro Nikon D4 bodies and the following lenses: Nikkor 14-24mm, f2.8; Nikkor 28mm, f1.4; Sigma 50-500mm, f4.5-6.3; Nikkor 400mm, f2.8; Nikkor 800mm, f5.6.

While the D4 is obviously still up to the job of capturing incredible images from space, the camera, which launched in 2012 as Nikon’s top-of-the-range shooter, and has been superseded first by the D4S and then, just recently, the D5.

Related: Astronaut Scott Kelly tweets amazing photos from space

The full-frame, 16.2-megapixel D4 can shoot up to 11 frames per second – more than enough for Peake’s aerial shots – and has always been rated for its decent low-light performance, perfect for those night captures showing space walk camera and flashcity lights and starry backgrounds.

Peake even has a specially kitted out D4 and flash (pictured) with custom-made thermal blankets for grabbing shots during space walks.

For those who want to find out more about each of Peake’s shots, head over to his Flickr page where you’ll find lens and settings information on every picture he’s taken since arriving on the the space station.