Splendid Isolation: The International Space Station Photobombs the Moon

March 31, 2020  •  3 Comments

I suppose the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are the most socially distanced humans right now. I'm hoping by the time they return to Earth the coronavirus crisis will have passed.

This is a daylight view of the ISS passing in front of the Moon. It's quite a challenge to capture; one of those times where being at the right place at the right time truly counts. It took only about 1/2 second for the ISS to pass in front of the Moon. It happens only a few times a year for any location and at any given time only from within an area on the ground a few miles wide by maybe 50 miles long, much more tightly constrained than a total solar eclipse, but much more frequent. Thanks to software called the ISS Transit Finder (https://transit-finder.com/), I learned about the location and timing of a pass visible from close to home. Also, the Moon is actually fairly small in the sky so needs a lens with high magnification (long focal length) to project any size in the camera. And it's a challenge to focus and set the exposure, but there's plenty of time to take test exposures while waiting for the main event. Oh and the weather has to cooperate too of course. I was afraid that some clouds would scuttle the view today but there was a patch of clear sky just at the right time. This was my second try for such an event; the first one, with the ISS transiting the Sun, failed. And this one almost did too, one of the two cameras I used did not fire properly.

With a bit of enlargement, you can even see some detail in the ISS, which seems remarkable to me considering the relatively minimal equipment used to take the photo. The ISS is about the size of a football field and was 279 miles away at the time. 

Technical information: this photo is a composite of ten frames shot in high speed continuous mode starting a second or so before the predicted pass: Nikon D850, 200-500mm f/5/6 lens, 500mm, 1/400 sec., f/14, ISO 250. Processed in Lightroom, composited in Photoshop with lighten layer blend mode.


Just Little things(non-registered)
I have never seen this before, For the first time, I have been seen international space photography. I had also a dream to become a photographer but, some cause it did not do it completely.
Zolt Levay Photography
Thanks Ann! Hope you are staying safe and healthy.
Ann Feild(non-registered)
Technically and aesthetically brilliant — from the gentleman who processed the first decades of Hubble data to produce so many stunning images.
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