SOLAR TRANSIT OF ISS AND ATLANTIS - LAST MISSION OF ATLANTIS
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Image of the solar transit of the
International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis 50 minutes before
docking, taken from the area of Madrid (Spain) on May 16th 2010 at 13h 28min 55s UT.
Atlantis has just begun the "R-bar pitch maneuver": the shuttle
performs a backflip that exposes its heat-shield to the crew of the ISS that
makes photographs of it; since its approach trajectory is between the ISS and
the Earth, this means that we are seeing Atlantis essentially from above, with
the payload bay door opened.
Transit forecast calculated by www.calsky.com.
For this transit of a maximum duration of 0.54s, the visibility band crossed Spain, southern France, Northern Italy, Austria etc. This band was 4.8 km wide but being placed at its edge implies that the transit duration becomes zero, so in practice I had to be placed less than 1 km from the center of the band. The choice of central Spain has been deduced from the study of weather forecast and detailed maps on Google-Earth.
ISS distance to observer: 391 km. Speed in orbit: 7.4km/s (26500 km/h or 16500 mph).
(click on the image for the full size version)
Takahashi TOA-150 refractor (diameter 150mm, final focal 2500mm), Baader Herschel prism and Canon 5D Mark II. Exposure of 1/8000s at 100 ISO, extracted from a series of 16 images (4 images/s) started 2s before the predicted time.
Below, a real time video sequence of the transit, taken with a FSQ-106ED Takahashi refractor, Astrosolar photo filter and a Casio EX-FH100 compact camera. This camera is able to take VGA videos (640x480) at 120 frames per second.
Downloadable DivX file (for private show only).
Below, the same sequence in 3D at 10x reduced speed. To see the ISS and Atlantis passing between the Sun and you, squint (cross the eyes) and merge the two images of the Sun: