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Caught: the ISS passing Jupiter and the Southern Cross this morning.

Gungahlin Al 18 October 2012 18

An early rise this morning for a very long and bright pass of the International Space Station yielded this beginner a couple of interesting shots.

They were all taken from the side of Horse Park Drive Throsby, with obvious effects of lights from intersections and homes.

This is looking west, with the ISS passing the Orion constellation, with Rigel to the left and red giant Betelguese to the right, Jupiter at the bottom, and Aldebaran bottom centre.

Before the ISS pass, this was Jupiter in the centre, the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) centre left, Orion running off the top, and Capella centre bottom.

This is looking east towards the centre of the Milky Way (not very obvious given the light pollution and the dawning sky) as the ISS approaches the end of this visible pass.

The Southern Cross (without Pointers) is clear in the lower right, with Beta Crux looking very orange. There’s a lot of colour variation between the stars in this shot.

I’ve pushed the exposure of this one, so a little more of the Milky Way is obvious (as is the poor quality of my kit lens!) as the ISS disappears.

The light spill is from the intersection and traffic lights on the end of Well Station Drive.

Earlier this week, the Crescent Moon on 13 October.

A couple more over on my blog: the Moon in conjunction with Venus and a very ordinary shot of Neptune.

There are some more good passes for early risers over the next few days, including at 4:14 tomorrow and 4:59 Saturday. Details: http://twisst.nl/67222


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18 Responses to Caught: the ISS passing Jupiter and the Southern Cross this morning.
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DrKoresh 2:14 am 20 Oct 12

It’s so beautiful isn’t it? I don’t spend enough time star-gazing, mostly out of laziness but it’s also because of how intimidating it can be, it’s hard to stay angry or outraged at the little things in life when you look up into the night sky. It can make even the biggest trials of life seem like nothing more than the petty bullshit it ultimately is.

Can I take a moment to point out that we have Al and Mr. G having a civil and thoughtful discussion together? That is the majesty of the Universe for you right there.

bigfeet 12:11 am 20 Oct 12

Thanks Al for that detailed response.

Good luck to you tomorrow (today I guess by the time this is posted). Whilst I don’t agree with many of your parties policies, ( so subsequently you featured quite low on my preferences) I applaud your your obviuous desire to actually do some good for the electorate you want to represent.

Gungahlin Al 8:56 pm 19 Oct 12

Thanks again folks for the lovely comments.

bigfeet said :

Al, can you give us some technical details on the shots if its not too much of a hassle.

Camera? Lens? Settings? Or are they on Flickr or somewhere else where this info is embedded?

My night-sky pics are atrocious!

Bigfeet: I think my photos are quite ordinary really, but I’m just starting to get a handle on it all.
I’m picking up some tips from buying this Shooting Stars ebook by the amazing Phil Hart: http://philhart.com/shooting-stars

I have a Canon EOS 600E, just with the standard twin zoom lens kit. (I really need a quality wide angle lens…) I have a T adapter and ring to hook it onto the Schmidt Cassegrain 150mm telescope with no lens attached – that’s what the Moon shot was with. I want to start using Registax to stack multiple of such photos to do the “Abby can you sharpen that?” NCIS thing. But I haven’t had time to learn that yet and it’s software design that makes grown adults cry. My gear will also attach to the 300mm telescope that the astronomical society has up on Mt Stromlo, so I’m itching to give that a go!

So for the other shots, basically I have the aperture as wide as it goes (smaller F number), ISO was on 800 and auto Noise Reduction turned on. This last means shots take twice as long – a 30 second shot, then another 30 seconds for the camera to gauge the sensor noise with the aperture closed, so it can subtract that noise from the photo. you have to take that into account when you are trying to nab as many ISS shots as you can (including reframing the fast-moving target) in a 4 minute pass.

I have a wireless remote: Hahnel Giga T Pro – they cost about $100 – worth it. I try to get the best focus I can by using Liveview mode to find something like a planet, centre it, then use the 5x then 10x live view zoom to sharpen it as much as I can. Focus must be on manual for star shooting. Because you have Liveview on, the mirror is already raised so there’s no shudder from it when you start the shot. And the remote prevents any jiggling from touching the camera – even a wired remote can move it.

For ISS shots I have the 18-55 lens set as wide as it goes. I use the iThing app ISS Spotter so I know exactly what angle and direction it will come from. I’m talking with the app developer about including angle details on when it will appear and disappear too. He’s great. Already incorporated several of my suggestions.

Beforehand I’ve just started to use the Star Walk app to see whether the pass will go close to anything special. Then I can see whether a pass is really worth an early rise (dusk passes are easier!), and plan if I can get any interesting background and foreground things in shot. I also want to try getting some other satellites in shot at the same time. The best I’ve seen has trails from the ISS and six satellites in the one shot!

For this attempt I just went down the end of the street and across Horse Park Drv into the paddock. The intersection lights provided the foreground light of the grass and the trees. Looked pitch black but after a long exposure… Sometimes in darker sites, I’m trying “painting” the foreground feature with a torch for a second or two during the exposure.

<a href="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-3ROwDdnhjBY/UGF53Nubj4I/AAAAAAAABFY/Cbq8fGfjYQ8/s939/ISS+pass+Harrison.jpg"This is my best ISS shot so far, taken on the hill up behind my place, looking towards Forde.

Then it is basically trying different exposures. You can’t go beyond 30 seconds at 18mm or the stars and planets start trailing – turning from dots into lines. I tried 20, 25 and 30 seconds last night. Was doing some shorter ones but a fog came in and the lens got misted. (I thought I had a really nice one last night of Venus rising over the mountains right next to a big tree, but when I got it home, it was fogged…)

The other thing I think is to get the entire trail inside a shot – rather than running out of the frame like the top one here does. I don’t think it looks as good as a trail that starts and ends inside the shot, like the one at the link here.

I’m waiting now for a piggyback mount to come from US so I can mount the camera with lens onto the top of the telescope and use the scope’s tracking to allow me to take longer shots. It isn’t an equatorial mount – it’s only what is called an alt-azimuth mount – so the tracking is pretty ordinary (only a $2000 scope – my Dad’s – he can’t use it any more – Alzheimers…). But I should be able to do 60 or maybe 90 second shots without trailing. Then hopefully I can figure out Registax and start doing some decent photos.

But this is just beginner stuff. I went to the talk the other day by Martin Pugh. You could buy a sweet Lexus for what his gear costs! But that’s what it requires to be the best astrophotographer in the world I guess.

Sorry that’s a bit all over the place, but I’m nuked after another day “pounding the pavement”. Hope it helps!

bundah 7:39 pm 19 Oct 12

poetix said :

Pork Hunt said :

poetix said :

Gungahlin Al said :


Got some good pics and video frames of Juliter though, which I hope to stack and process Sunday. Little bit busy before then… 🙂

I suppose if we like these photos and want to see a lot more we shouldn’t vote for you, Al…

Come now. I’m sure Al can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Well that probably puts him ahead of a lot of other candidates…

Come to think of it, doing either does that…

Some of them probably think Betelguese is what you get if you step on a cockroach…

Haha now that would be Sirius!

bigfeet 7:07 pm 19 Oct 12

Al, can you give us some technical details on the shots if its not too much of a hassle.

Camera? Lens? Settings? Or are they on Flickr or somewhere else where this info is embedded?

My night-sky pics are atrocious!

poetix 6:27 pm 19 Oct 12

Pork Hunt said :

poetix said :

Gungahlin Al said :


Got some good pics and video frames of Juliter though, which I hope to stack and process Sunday. Little bit busy before then… 🙂

I suppose if we like these photos and want to see a lot more we shouldn’t vote for you, Al…

Come now. I’m sure Al can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Well that probably puts him ahead of a lot of other candidates…

Come to think of it, doing either does that…

Some of them probably think Betelguese is what you get if you step on a cockroach…

Pork Hunt 6:07 pm 19 Oct 12

poetix said :

Gungahlin Al said :


Got some good pics and video frames of Juliter though, which I hope to stack and process Sunday. Little bit busy before then… 🙂

I suppose if we like these photos and want to see a lot more we shouldn’t vote for you, Al…

Come now. I’m sure Al can walk and chew gum at the same time.

poetix 1:51 pm 19 Oct 12

Gungahlin Al said :


Got some good pics and video frames of Juliter though, which I hope to stack and process Sunday. Little bit busy before then… 🙂

I suppose if we like these photos and want to see a lot more we shouldn’t vote for you, Al…

Mr Gillespie 1:26 pm 19 Oct 12

I don’t have a spare million really, but I wish good luck on a highly ambitious feat to get a small target as a planet in the same telescopic frame as the ISS.

Thumper 12:40 pm 19 Oct 12

That second photo is simply brilliant.

As is the last one of the moon.

Gungahlin Al 12:24 pm 19 Oct 12

Mr Gillespie said :

A million bucks says you can find a point where and when you can get the ISS within half a degree of Jupiter through a lens strong enough to show Jupiter and its moons.

You have a spare million do you?
I was all set up earlier this week to catch it coming very close. But the ISS passed about two fields of view in the telescope away from Jupiter. DSLR attached to the Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.

I’m targeting this sort of shot for a while to see if I can nab one.

I have actually followed the ISS across the sky once using the fully manual Dobsonian scope. We could even see the solar sails!

Got some good pics and video frames of Juliter though, which I hope to stack and process Sunday. Little bit busy before then… 🙂

Mr Gillespie 11:24 am 19 Oct 12

A million bucks says you can find a point where and when you can get the ISS within half a degree of Jupiter through a lens strong enough to show Jupiter and its moons.

Flyinghurts 10:03 am 19 Oct 12

Awesomes pictures. Thanks mate

shirty_bear 9:54 am 19 Oct 12

Fascinating – well done, Al.

Gungahlin Al 9:20 am 19 Oct 12

Deref said :

Great job, Al! 🙂 Thanks!

Thanks guys for the feedback. Got a lot more the learn about doing this, but it’s fun trying to capture them.

LSWCHP 7:57 pm 18 Oct 12

Thanks Al. It’s heroic efforts on the part of blokes like you that allow me to sleep soundly at night. 🙂

Deref 6:35 pm 18 Oct 12

Great job, Al! 🙂 Thanks!

breda 5:51 pm 18 Oct 12

Cool pix – thanks Al.

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