Solar Transit | ISS Crosses the Sun

I’ve been waiting patiently. Today, three parts of a challenge finally came together. The sky was clear. I had the correct video equipment. And, the International Space Station crossed the face of the Sun as seen from my location. I received an email notice from CalSky this morning about this event. The track of the centerline was directly over our communities. I had to be ready in about an hour if I was to record video of the event.

I put the solar filter over the lens of my camera and put it on the tripod. I stepped outside to test the video settings. A test video of the Sun turned out as I hoped. I went inside and set a timer. The transit across the Sun was to occur moments after 1:03 local time. I figured to record from 1:02 until 1:04. The transit would show a silhouette of the ISS for only 0.6 seconds since it is going so fast at 5 mile/sec. I used my cell phone to accurately keep track of time. It was within a second of the national atomic clock.

Here is the result. The video is slowed down to half speed. Transit occurs about 6 seconds into it. You can slow it down even more with the gear tool on the video panel.


I was thrilled with the result. This isn’t the first time I’ve recorded a transit. Others are here and here. But, this is by far the best quality. I am still waiting for an opportunity to record an ISS transit of the Moon.

Here is a sequence of superimposed screen shots from the video showing a more detailed look at ISS. Two large solar array panels are quite visible. Total transit time was 0.6 sec. Each position of ISS is about 0.1 sec apart. Notice a few small sunspots left of center and to the far right limb. The faint concentric rings are imaging artifacts and not real. North is to the top of the frame.


30 thoughts on “Solar Transit | ISS Crosses the Sun

  1. This is fantastic!!! Wow. Here’s to you for getting it right. That’s one of those things that you only have one chance at (until the next time). Great job. It makes me smile seeing things like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that the solar arrays are so clear. I’m as in awe of your skills as I am of the space station. Maybe the ISS is a little more complicated, but you surely do wonderful things with that new camera of yours.


  3. Amazing Jim, thanks for sharing. I don’t know if you did this with the computer software? I’m afraid I’m going to become addicted to the 4K video feature, soon to come out with the new Canon camera, the Canon 5D Mark lV. I would also really like to get into astrophotography. The cool thing about newer cameras is that the time lapse video feature is built-in. So I suppose time lapse would be easier to do as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I recorded the video in HD. But, it was not the highest setting, only 720. Then, I took individual frames and superimposed them with photoshop.

      My Canon camera won’t take time lapse. But, I can import regular video into iMovie and slow it down. That doesn’t work for very slow motions. But, for my needs it is ok.


  4. As soon as I saw the title Solar Transit I thought not of astronomy but of subways. One of the three subway lines in New York is the IRT, which stands for Interborough Rapid Transit. Another is the BMT, meaning Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit.

    Liked by 1 person

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