Category Archives: Satellite Watching

Images: ISS and Mercury captured crossing the face of the Sun

An image of both the planet Mercury and the Int. Space Station transiting the face of the Sun simultaneously:

Space in Images – 2016 – 05 – Space Station Mercury

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“Space Station Mercury” –  Thierry Legault

On 9 May Mercury passed in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. These transits of Mercury occur only around 13 times every century, so astronomers all over Earth were eager to capture the event.

For astrophotographer Thierry Legault, capturing Mercury and the Sun alone was not enough, however – he wanted the International Space Station in the frame as well.

To catch the Station passing across the Sun, you need to set up your equipment within a ground track less than 3 km wide. For Thierry, this meant flying to the USA from his home near Paris, France.

On 9 May there were three possible areas to capture the Station and Mercury at the same time against the solar disc: Quebec, Canada, the Great Lakes and Florida, USA.

Choosing the right spot took considerable effort, says Thierry:

“Canada had bad weather predicted and around Florida I couldn’t find a suitably quiet but public place, so I went to the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

With 45 kg of equipment, Thierry flew to New York and drove two hours to Philadelphia to scout the best spot. Even then, all the preparations and intercontinental travel could have been for nothing because the Station crosses the Sun in less than a second and any clouds could have ruined the shot.

“I was very lucky: 10 minutes after I took the photos, clouds covered the sky,” says a relieved Thierry.

“Adrenaline flows in the moments before the Station flies by – it is a one-shot chance. I cannot ask the space agencies to turn around so I can try again. Anything can happen.”

The hard work and luck paid off. The image here includes frames superimposed on each other to show the Station’s path. Mercury appears as a black dot at bottom-centre of the Sun.

For Thierry, the preparation and the hunt for the perfect shot is the best part.

“Astrophotography is my hobby that I spend many hours on, but even without a camera I encourage everybody to look up at the night sky. The International Space Station can be seen quite often and there are many more things to see. It is just a case of looking up at the right time.”

Watch a video of the pass, including another moment with an aircraft flying by. 

Visit Thierry’s homepage here: http://www.astrophoto.fr/

BINARY SPACE Satellite Tracking Tool available as free Win 10 app

BINARY SPACE’s Satellite Tracking Tool is now available as a free app for Windows 10: SpaceTracker™ – Windows Games on Microsoft Store

The SpaceTracker™ is a 2D/3D real-time satellite tracking application. It allows you to determine the current position of most Earth-centric satellites currently in orbit and also features location pass & interlink predictions. It can even help you to setup your TV antenna dish.

Windows 10 users should run this new version. The previous version used Microsoft’s Silverlight graphics system.

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Update: BINARY SPACE chief Adrian Wenz tells me that a nice new feature of the SpaceTracker™ is its support for live tiles:

If you pin the app to the start menu (see lower right corner [of the screen capture below], right to ‘Minecraft’) it will periodically show you the position of any desired satellite. By default, it comes-up with positional information about the ISS, but you can choose any satellite via the ‘Favorites’ panel (-> ‘Star’ symbol). For large/wide tiles you can specify up to 4 satellites to be monitored. These tiles are updated even if the app is not open (via background tasks).

To pin the app to the start menu: Open the ‘All apps’ group, scroll to the letter ‘S’ and right-click on the ‘SpaceTracker™’ icon.

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A marvelous view of the Space Station in front of the Moon

A great picture of the International Space Station transiting across the face of the Moon: Space Station Lunar Transit – NASA

The International Space Station, with a crew of six onboard, is seen in silhouette as it transits the moon at roughly five miles per second, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, Woodford, VA.  Onboard are; NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren: Russian Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko, and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The International Space Station, with a crew of six onboard, is seen in silhouette as it transits the moon at roughly five miles per second, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, Woodford, VA. Onboard are; NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren: Russian Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko, and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Click here for a larger image.

Find more about tracking and imaging spacecraft in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.

Great view of the ISS transiting the Moon

Australian astrophotographer Dylan O’Donnell captured a wonderful view of the International Space Station crossing in front of the Moon:

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“International Space Station over Australia” by Dylan O’Donnell

Find more about tracking and photographing spacecraft in orbit in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.

Hobbyists tracking the X-37B spaceplane in orbit

Spacecraft tracking hobbyists are now following the X-37B US military spaceplane, which was recently launched onto an undisclosed orbit:

For more about seeing and tracking spacecraft of all sorts, see the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.