ISS Transit

One of my favorite things to do with the telescope is to chase and photograph the International Space Station, and catching it transiting the moon is a fun challenge that I don't get to try too often. My last attempt was all the way back in December of 2018. Needless to say I was excited when I noticed that I had an opportunity coming up in the next few weeks that was only a few minutes from the house, and even better, my cousin's house was right on the path so I didn't have to worry about where to go.

I packed up my gear the night before so I wouldn't forget anything when I headed out the door around 4:15 the next morning. Despite it being so early it was rather bright out getting everything setup. I quickly got the mount tracking, and fine tuned the focus, but after that I had some time to contemplate why I don't drink any coffee.

Setting up the telescope
Setting up the telescope

The transit was set to happen at 05:09:18am, so I pulled up my SkyView Lite app which tracks the station. At 17,500 mph it moves from horizon to horizon within a few minutes, so you have to pay attention. I saw it behind me fast approaching the horizon at 4:56, and knew it would be on the opposite side of the sky within 10 minutes.

Tracking the station
Tracking the stations location

Once it rose above the houses it took me about 10 seconds to find it and start tracking visually. I watched it fly overhead, and then downwards towards the moon, letting me hit the shutter just before the transit. Here's a close up single frame as the station passed.

Single frame closeup of the ISS lunar transit
Single frame of the ISS lunar transit

With my Canon 5D MkIII I was able to get 10 frames. At 45° it wasn't the largest station photo I've taken, but there was still some significant detail. It's always fun to catch the station going by, I highly recommend everyone give it a try.

Full 10 frame grab of the transit
10 frame stack of the ISS lunar transit