The ISS on a Cold January Morning

The International Space Station (ISS) made two appearances this morning — one at 4:56am and the other at 6:30am. The first appearance was short and low. Its maximum elevation in the sky was only eleven degrees up off the horizon and it was visible for just a little more than a minute. I decided I’d try to photograph both flyovers.

Here’s the image from the first flyover. Because the ISS was so low on the horizon, it wasn’t very bright and it is hard to see in the image below. Click on the image to open a larger version and maybe you can spot the streak the ISS made.

If you still couldn’t spot it, click here for a hint.

The second flyover was a long one. It was visible for six minutes and passed almost directly overhead. Its path was too long and too high in the sky for me to capture in one shot, so I pointed the camera in the direction it was traveling (NE), took a series of 8 second exposures to capture the second half of the flyover. I composited those images into a single image.

Here is the composite image made from 24 separate images. Click the image to view a larger version.

Each dash is an eight second exposure. The gaps in the line are from the short duration between exposures. If i had captured the whole thing in one exposure, it would appear as a solid, unbroken line.

The ISS orbits at an altitude of about 240 miles and travels at an average speed of 17,239.2 mph, or 4.788 miles per second. That means that each dash shows the ISS traveling 38.304 miles. There are 24 dashes in the composite image which combine for a total of 919.296 miles — and that doesn’t include the distance it traveled between camera exposures.

Previous ISS post: The ISS and Space Shuttle Discovery as Seen From Pennsylvania

~ by peeancefreeance on January 16, 2012.

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