ISS-Lunar Transit

ISS MOON STACK 0330_.jpg
ISS MOON STACK 0330_.jpg

ISS-Lunar Transit


The International Space Station transiting the Moon.

15" x 15" - fine art quality paper

* please allow a couple weeks lead time for printing, contact me with questions.

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A real labor of love is this photo. The amount of work and headache required to achieve this image was immense and consisted of four failed attempts before finally capturing the shot. 

The International Space Station (ISS) orbits Earth at just over 17,000 mph and completes 15.5 revolutions per day. This means the ISS will appear somewhere in the sky every ~90 minutes. Even though the ISS passes over this frequently, each attempt to get this photo was separated by a few weeks, and therefore months before the transit was captured.

There are many reasons that compound to make this photo such a challenge. Here are a few of them: 

  • Exact GPS coordinates are required, deviating even a few hundred feet and you'll be out of the line of transit. These coordinates are different for every pass. 
  • The ISS-Lunar transit time is just 0.64 seconds. This is the window of opportunity. 
  • The ISS flies over 17,000 mph which required a shutterspeed of 1/2000th of a second to prevent blur.
  • The Moon phase needed to be full or near-full.
  • The Moon had to be high in the sky to prevent atmospheric disturbances lower on the horizon. 
  • The ISS had to have a specific angular declination to actually be able to see the solar panels in the photo.
  • The ISS transit time required a sync to the international atomic clock due to ping latency on my cellular network, tenths of seconds matter.
  • And of course, immaculate weather. 

I wouldn't normally divulge this much information for a single photo, however, I consider this a perfect example of science intersecting art. The numbers make it that much more cool. There's a special place in my heart with this image.