Night Sky Photography – ISS Flyover

Not my usual kind of nature photography, but I do enjoy studying the night sky. On a whim I recently decided to see if I could catch the International Space Station passing between the Moon and us, and sure enough, less than a week later it was predicted to transit the Moon, and I could see it from my own back yard! So, on September 27th, I set up my small telescope and camera to try and photograph the ISS flyby.

This is a composite image of 12 frames I captured of the ISS transiting the Moon.

This enlargement of one image shows the ISS passing between the Moon and us. My kids said it looks like a TIE Fighter from Star Wars.

In this picture you can see the solar panels on each end of the station, and the radiators are probably what is the brightest section in the middle.

The ISS flew over at about 401 km above the Earth and travelling at a ground speed of 7.7 km/sec. My Starry Night Enthusiast program estimates that it was 1164 km away when I took this image. It is amazing you can see any detail at this distance. There are currently 6 people flying around in this high tech space can!

My equipment was a 120mm SkyWatcher, a Nikon 1.7x teleconverter, and a Sony A7Sii.

ISO 2500
1/1500 sec
600mm x 1.7 = 1020 mm
f/5ish (can’t remember what the teleconverter would make an f/5 telescope)

This computer generated image is what a program, Starry Night Enthusiast, predicted it would look like. The solar panels are quite large but were not reflecting sunlight at us at the time.  This simulation does not show the radiators deployed near the centre, which is probably the bulk of the bright area in my images.


I used Cal-Sky to do the search, and also the Heavens Above website and app.


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