Split-second photography: the ISS in front of the moon and sun

That tiny speck in front of the moon is the International Space Station, which is traveling nearly five miles a second relative to us Earthlings. That means French photographer Thierry Legault only had 0.55 seconds to make the shot. He got it — and got one with the sun, too (during an eclipse, no less).

Now, Legault couldn't just whip out his camera and snap the shot willy-nilly. Instead it took a lot of planning and precise positioning. In this case, that position was the country of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula, as "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait explains:

hat's why Thierry sojourned to Oman; due to the geometry of the ISS orbit, it was from there that he had the best chance of getting a picture of the station as it passed in front of the Sun during the relatively brief duration of the actual solar eclipse. But talk about brief; the ISS was in front of the Sun for less than second, so not only did he have one chance at getting this spectacular once-in-a-lifetime shot, but he had only a fraction of a second to snap it!

Here's the shot of the ISS with the sun, eclipsed in the bottom left corner by the moon, in what Legault is calling a double eclipse of the sun. He only had an 0.86-second window to capture it:


Got some free time? You won't go wrong filling it with a tour of Legault's site. He's got a ton of great space photography on there.

Thierry Legault, via MAKE, via Neatorama

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