The International Space Station passing over Wheaton College (Norton, MA)

ISS passing over the Sun.

On 2017 April 23, at around 09:50:35 EDT the International Space Station (ISS) flew right in front of the Sun as seen from Norton (MA). While regular ISS passes are quite common, flying right in front of the Sun or Moon is relatively rare and happens once every few months or so. The weather was predicted to be clear this morning, so we decided to try to take a video of this event.

We put a solar filter on one of our CPC1100 scopes (11" aperture, f/10 SCT), and attached a Canon EOS 60Da DSLR camera at the Schmidt-Cassegrain focus. The camera was set to capture 1280x720 video at 59.94 fps. Unfortunately I forgot to sync the camera to the PC, so the timestamps were off, but successive frames are about 1/60 seconds apart. (In the composite image shown above I actually have superimposed every second frame, i.e. images that are 1/30 seconds apart.)

We were a bit late setting things up and I was still fumbling around when the event happened. In fact, I didn't see anything at that time on the laptop screen (the camera was connected and controlled from a laptop) and was disappointed. However after getting back indoors and while replaying the movie ... voila ... there was the ISS!!! We caught it ....

  • As it happened in real time (MOV format; 386 kB)
  • A 2 fps slow-motion movie of the frames with ISS passing (AVI format; 12 MB).
  • A 2 fps slow-motion GIF animation of the same (11 MB).
  • The 2 fps movie on YouTube (Thanks to Tony Houser for putting it on YouTube).
  • The raw movie capture by the camera is 281 MB in size, and is available on request.
  • Individual frames extracted using avconv: 2403.png, 2404.png, 2405.png, 2406.png, 2407.png, 2408.png, 2409.png, 2410.png, 2411.png, 2412.png, 2413.png, 2414.png, 2415.png, 2416.png, 2417.png, 2418.png, 2419.png, 2420.png, 2421.png, 2422.png, 2423.png, 2424.png, 2425.png, 2426.png, 2427.png.

    Note:Astronomical images are typically not bright and therefore require your monitor to be properly calibrated. While a proper calibration of the monitor is time consuming (and expensive), a quick (and dirty) way is to adjust your monitor so that you can see ALL the 17 different shades in the image below, in particular the darkest shades.

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    Last updated: 2017 Apr 24 by Dipankar Maitra.