On New Year’s Day, Alan Strauss captured on a camera from Himmel Park in central Tucson the 1½-second journey of the International Space Station as it sailed across the sun.
Strauss is an amateur astronomer and director of the UA Sky School and Mount Lemmon Sky Center.
The space station was about 420 miles above Tucson and the sun was about 93 million miles away during the transit. Because the space station was so close to Earth, Strauss had to be ready to capture it the moment it flew in front of the sun at about 17,100 mph.
The space station is about the size of a football field and houses six astronauts as it orbits Earth 16 times a day.
Using positioning information that can be found online, Strauss determined Himmel Park was an ideal location to digitally record the event using his digital camera attached to his sun-filtered telescope.
He then stitched together 32 frames to create the final time-lapsed image.
“What’s neat, is that we were able to do a little outreach,” Strauss said. “People at the park would come up, and we could talk to them about observing the sun and ISS.”
Strauss usually photographs the Milky Way galaxy and had seen the space station transit the sun only twice before. The first time, he simply watched. The second time, he used his camera to capture the event but was challenged by thick cirrus clouds.
This time, he nailed it.
People are so fascinated with the space station, Strauss said, because “it’s the only place right now where we have people in space. It stirs people’s imagination. … We can look up and have sense of wonder,” he said.
To know when and where the space station will be and if you can view it from your location, visit: spotthestation.nasa.gov/