The Space Station is now continuously lit by sunlight, allowing me to capture dusk-to-dawn passages of the ISS.
On the night of May 31/June 1 I was able to shoot four passages of the International Space Station on successive orbits, at 90-minute intervals, from dusk to dawn.
The first passage, at 11:06 p.m., was low across the south. It’s the image at top.
Then at 12:45 a.m. the Space Station came over again, now directly overhead. It’s the image above. The Moon is the bright glow at bottom.
One orbit later, at 2:21 a.m., the Station came over in another overhead pass in the bright moonlight.
The final passage of the night came at 3:55 a.m. as the sky was brightening with dawn twilight and the Moon was setting. This was another passage across the south, and made for the most photogenic pass of the night.
Here’s an edited movie of the four passes, with a little music just for fun.
Seeing the Space Station on not one but two, three, or even four orbits in one night is possible at my latitude of 50 degrees north around summer solstice because the Station is now continuously lit by sunlight — the Sun never sets from the altitude of the ISS.
When the ISS should be entering night, sunlight streaming over the north pole still lights the Station at its altitude of 400 km.
To shoot the time-lapse clips and stills I used 8mm and 15mm fish-eye lenses, and a 14mm ultra-wide lens.
The bright moonlight made it possible to use short 2- to 4-second exposures, allowing me to record enough frames at each passage to make the little movies of the ISS flying across the sky. Keep in mind, to the eye, the ISS looks like a bright star. Some image processing trickery adds the tapering trails.
I used the Advanced Stacker Actions from StarCircleAcademy.com to create the trail effects, and to stack the time-lapse frames into single composite still images. The gaps in the trails are from the one second interval between frames.
– Alan, June 2, 2015 / © 2015 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.com
4 Replies to “Night of the Space Station”
Nice work, Alan. A number of years ago I used this window to view five ISS passes in succession. The key was to choose the central night in the viewing season, where ISS made a high pass cresting due S very close to local midnight. The passes immediately before & after that were routine, with the challenges being the first & last, which were so-called “daylight” passes on the order of a half hour after sunset/before sunrise, very low in the SE & SW respectively. In each case ISS didn’t reach more than 12 or maybe 15 degrees altitude from Edmonton but there was a couple of minutes to view it in each case.
In theory such was possible again last night June 01-02, though again two of the passes would be very marginal. (It clouded up here.) Your choice of a 4-pass night with the central two bracketing local midnight was likely a better choice for photography purposes.
Very interesting! May I know the location from where these pictures were shot?
Hello – from southern Alberta, Canada. About 50 deg north latitude so the ISS comes overhead for us at the Northern apex of its orbit.
One more “cooler” attribute of being in higher latitudes. We tropical people rarely encounter couple of passes in a single day…