International Space Station

International Space Station

Got up early today to see if I could get some shots of the International Space Station as it flew over. If you ever decide to do this, I recommend’s satellite tracking service. It’s a lot easier to use than NASA’s satellite tracker, in my opinion – if only because of how easy it is to read the output.

The first time I looked this information up, I saw that the ISS was going to be over my house in… one minute. Yikes! I jumped up, grabbed my camera and tripod and ran outside. I spotted the space station immediately… if you have a brightness index of -3 or lower, it’s BRIGHT (these images are from a -3.6 brightness index pass – the lower the number, the brighter it is). At this level, you literally need to be in a rainstorm to miss it. The station moves FAST.

This morning’s fly-by lasted all of two minutes and twenty-three seconds. If you don’t have your gear set up ahead of time, forget it.

These images were taken with a 50mm lens, f / 2.8, ISO 400, and all are ten second exposures. As much as I would have liked to have tried some different settings, there just wasn’t enough time.

Clicking any of these images will open them up larger, and you can scroll through the collection by hovering your mouse on the left or right side of the large image to get an arrow (if you have trouble with this, please let me know).

What do you think? Are any of these particularly interesting? Which one do you like best?


  1. Well!! Its really an amazing service by But, to be my tough luck, it only works in USA, not in India…

  2. I really the pictures and the URL that you have shared with us, so that we could have some experience to see the ISS by our own selves. Thank you very much for such a nice post and i want to say that the second one is interesting..

  3. James Moralde says:

    Must have been a very still night (no breeze at all), judging from the twigs and leaves silhoutte. And it looks like it is indeed passing right above your house. Spaceweather says it’s never gonna happen with mine. :)

  4. @Micky – scroll down the page, you can get most countries, including India, using the global service under the U.S. service. I made sure before I made the post – more than half my guests here are outside the U.S., and I wanted it to be useful for everyone.

    Your next opportunity, depending on where you are exactly, will be around 5 a.m. on the 19th of October.

    @James – The first couple of times I tried this, I got the same result… but the orbit is continuously shifting, so if you check it every couple of weeks, you’re almost sure to get a hit sooner or later. The service only checks ten days at a time. It was actually a windy day, and just as I started taking pictures, it calmed down. :) It was surreal.

  5. Good idea.
    I should take a look at the website to check if i can spot.
    Huge problem is : i live in Paris.
    I guess there will be too much light around …
    May i ask if you live in a city and if there was other lights around when you took the pictures ?

    • Can you see any stars at all in Paris?

      My moment of shame – I was there in ’08, and not once did I go out at night. The city of lights, and I only went out in the day time. By the time it got dark, I was so jet-lagged and tired from walking all day, I just wanted to sleep.

      Ah, well… if you can see ANY stars at all, you should be able to spot the space station. It’s brighter than anything else up there (except the moon).

  6. wow, amazing. first, tho, why are three of them angled top right to bottom left, and one is almost oblique to those? I like the one where you can see the trees best – the streak of light is interrupted by the branches, like the light is stuck in between them like sticking a needle in and out of fabric. what time of day (night)?

    • I took these between 5:52 a.m. and 5:54 a.m.

      The reason they seem to “change” angle is because the ISS rose in the WNW of the sky and set in the NE sky. It’s a straight line, but it didn’t go straight over my head, so it appears to change angle from shot to shot.

  7. Now I wonder how often I took pictures at night thinking it was an airplane. Totally forgot that it could have been the space station.

  8. There some things really are kept away from human knowledge -the universe. It is interesting to realize that some things bigger than the Earth are left to be discovered, thereto evoking man’s curiosity of holding things in his head. =)

  9. All are astounding. Wish it was going to pass over my house…

  10. Pretty amazing. Wonder what would happen is the photographer didn’t know what he/she was seeing?

  11. I really like the one where you can glimpse the trees best – the mark of light is cut off by the parts, like the light is attached in between them like attaching a needle in and out of fabric.

  12. Wow this is amazing night photography!

  13. I will definitely have to check out the site to see when it will be over. Trying to teach my son about planets, space, and astronomy.

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