Space Station Crossed the Sun During Eclipse

August 23rd, 2017 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Now that a day or so has passed since the total solar eclipse raced across the United States, we are beginning to see some of the better photos from professional photographers appear.

I’ve gathered a handful of what I consider to be some of the best photos so far. I think the most unique photo was by Canadian photographer Derek Kind, who travelled to a remote spot in Wyoming just to capture the International Space Station crossing the sun at the same time as the moon was crossing. I’ve witnessed the ISS crossing the sun before, and you have to be in just the right place at just the right time to witness it.

ISS passing in front of the sun during the eclipse, Derek Kind, somewhere in Wyoming.

The following photos are also exceptional.

Prominences, Dave Cotterell, Glendo, Wyoming.

Using a hydrogen alpha filter and small telescope, by “V3ngence”, Livermore, California.

Moshen Chan, Madras, Oregon.

Jimmy Eubanks, Sunset, South Carolina.

Multi-exposure composite, showing Earthshine reflecting off the dark side of the moon. Joe Woolbright, unknown location.

A video of people gathered to capture the Space Station transiting the sun can be seen here.

21 Responses to “Space Station Crossed the Sun During Eclipse”

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  1. BBould says:

    Awesome pictures! Thanks for the post.

  2. Mac says:

    That shot of ISS crossing the sun, how long does that take? How long between those snaps? Do you have to be within feet of the right spot to get that and the eclipse together? Just too cool, thanks Roy, great stuff.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      It happens fast, about 0.6 sec from one side of the sun to the other. So you want a camera that will take as many fps as possible (for high-res photos, not reduced res and compressed frames like video).

      • gbaikie says:

        ISS goes 7.8 km/sec and Moon goes 1 km/sec, And ISS is much closer. Basically the sun and Moon aren’t moving much, it’s the Earth’s rotation, and ISS is moving.

      • Derek Kind says:

        In this case, even though I had a camera (attached to a telescope) capable of very fast RAW bursts (about 12fps), I chose to capture the transit in 4k 30fps video, so that I’d have more frames to work with.

        As far as where you needed to be, the path of transit was about 7km across (although I wanted the ISS to be near the center of the Sun, so my target was about a mile wide), but it intersected the band of totality in a part of Wyoming that is a little difficult to access (private property and a reservation). I was lucky enough to find a place to set up that was in the sweet spot for the transit and totality.

  3. ossqss says:

    Sunspot 2671 is captured in several of those photos also. Including the ISS one. Nice!

  4. RCronise says:

    Destin (in video) is from Decatur and works out at Redstone. His YouTube channel is “smarter every day” and is very popular. Just wanted to give a Huntsville plug.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Cool! I didn’t know that!

    • Derek Kind says:

      His channel is awesome. His video about the eclipse a few months ago really kindled my interest in this event. I couldn’t believe it when I later learned that he was about a mile away from me during the eclipse, also capturing the transit!

  5. John Smith says:

    Please excuse small uneducated nerd question.
    Is the space station actually in space?
    Space being interplanetary space.
    Isn’t it really well within the magnetosphere and therefore more accurately a high atmosphere station?
    Do we have the technical capability to survive for very long outside the magnetosphere?
    As a child of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, the 21st century is a bit disappointing.
    Thanks for your blog and stunning pics.

    • gbaikie says:

      “Is the space station actually in space?”
      yes, any thing at or above 100 km is defined as being in space.
      But I like to think airliners are flying in space.
      And space is the place, you can go faster.

      “Space being interplanetary space.”
      Space is mostly interstellar space.

      “Isnt it really well within the magnetosphere and therefore more accurately a high atmosphere station?”

      The tail of magnetosphere goes past lunar distance.
      Most think exosphere is highest atmosphere of Earth:

      “The exosphere (Ancient Greek: ἔξω xō “outside, external, beyond”, Ancient Greek: σφαῖρα sphaĩra “sphere”) is a thin, atmosphere-like volume surrounding a planet or natural satellite where molecules are gravitationally bound to that body, but where the density is too low for them to behave as a gas by colliding with each other. In the case of bodies with substantial atmospheres, such as Earth’s atmosphere, the exosphere is the uppermost layer, where the atmosphere thins out and merges with interplanetary space. It is located directly above the thermosphere”
      Or the Moon’s atmosphere is all exosphere.
      Wiki continue:
      The lower boundary of the exosphere is called the exobase…
      On Earth, the altitude of the exobase ranges from about 500 to 1,000 kilometres (310 to 620 mi) depending on solar activity.”
      ISS flies always under the exobase. In terms of highest Earth atmosphere, it flies in a lower atmosphere.
      But it’s in low earth orbit.

      “Do we have the technical capability to survive for very long outside the magnetosphere?”

      Well to keep simple, what we need is lots of water. Cheap water. In terms of anywhere in space [not including Earth] water at 1 million dollar per ton is cheap.

      One might ask how many tons of water do you use?
      Or there is… “264.3405 gallons per tonne” so how many gallons do you use per day?
      “Estimates vary, but each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day.”
      So in 3 days you could use a tonne of water- or 10 tonnes of water per month.
      So 1 million dollar per tonne is currently very cheap if at low orbit or above it- elsewhere in space [or not earth].

      And making it significantly cheaper than 1 million per ton, would be a technical answer to how to live indefinitely in space.

  6. ren says:

    22 sie 2017
    Deserts are meant to be dry and lifeless places but this one in Chile has just had a dazzling bloom of flowers.

    The plants grew in the Atacama Desert following unexpectedly heavy rainfall in the north of the country during the winter months.
    Flowers usually grow there once every seven years (because its the driest place on Earth) but the extra rain meant it occurred just two years after the last bloom.

    Atacama is one of the most arid places in the world so visitors were shocked when they stumbled across the bloom of more than 200 floral species and endemic fauna.
    It was so baffling the desert is now attracting thousands of tourists who are eager to see the flowers.
    And we dont blame them for wanting to witness the rare spectacle.

  7. Ric Werme says:

    These are great. I was going to collect some of my favorites on a web page about my experiences (few photos), but I’ll just link here instead.

  8. Walt Allensworth says:

    To even conceive of taking that first picture (ISS & Moon covering the sun) is amazing.
    Then, to know enough to figure out when and where on the surface of the earth you have to be to actually take this picture, well, the term “dizzying intellect” comes to mind.

    My hat is off to Canadian photographer Derek Kind and his team.

    • Derek Kind says:

      I thank you, Walt! While I don’t have a team, a lot of the hard work has been taken care of by some very clever people who have developed ISS transit prediction apps that are accurate down to the millisecond. I won’t pretend to understand the math involved, but I’m thankful that someone did. I had the easy job of going to the location and getting the capture. 🙂

  9. Derek Kind says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my photo, Roy! I just came across this. It was an amazing experience, being able to capture the ISS transit and then seeing totality – an event that was more beautiful than I expected!

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