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Watching the International Space Station: Finally a photo

A few weeks ago I wrote about seeing the International Space Station pass overhead and it included my failure to successfully take a photograph of it. Well, since then I have played with the settings on my camera and studied it almost to the point of actually getting the manual out. I have made a few more attempts to take some photos and this time I removed the lens cap. My Pentax Finepix s5600 camera is getting old. A newer fancier camera should be able to do a better job of this. I did manage to force it to take 15 second exposures with the aperture opened right up which at least lit the sky up well.

The International Space Station in the night sky

The streak across the sky is the ISS. The ISS didn’t appear as a streak in the sky, that is simply how the camera records it with a time exposure. The length of the streak indicates how far the ISS travelled in 15 seconds. What’s interesting in this photo is that the ISS was over southern Victoria when this photo was taken, which is about 1000 km (600 miles) away. The ISS would have been 400 km above Earth, so that makes it… allowing for the curvature of the Earth… umm, a long way away.

The ISS may not look that bright compared to the stars, but the stars have a full 15 second exposure while they are in one spot, while the ISS was moving resulting in its 15 seconds spread across that streak. It was actually brighter than all the stars in the photo.

The four stars at the tips of the Southern Cross can be seen above the tree.

Here’s another shot on a different night.

The International Space Station in the night sky

In this shot the ISS was travelling west towards the left side of the photo. The trail gets fainter towards the left as it is moves into the Earth’s shadow.

If you haven’t seen the ISS yet, jump over to Heavens Above, enter your location, check out the next pass in your area, go out to your backyard and become a Satellite Spotter it’s really cool.