International Space Station, 9th April 2009

On the morning of the 9th April, a bright ISS pass went almost overhead, coming out of Earth’s shadow at about 60° altitude in the South West (where I have trees) heading through to the North East. I was well prepared for this pass – finderscope was aligned (and not fogged up!) and I checked focus with the 2x barlow and DMK21AU04 using Jupiter.

My hand-tracking was good and I got loads of frames with the ISS captured, but very few were sharp and usable so I’m not overly happy with the results. My shutter speed was too long again and the seeing wasn’t good.

The solar panels flared while I was capturing – the image on the left shows very bright solar panels (earlier less sharp images showed them even brighter. The image on the right shows a shadow across the solar panels, probably from one of the radiators.

ISS 9th April 2009

ISS 9th April 2009

Please read on to find out more about the pass and the capture.

Unfortunately I missed the early stages of the pass when the ISS was at its brightest, because I couldn’t find it in the finderscope. I really need to get better at that, because I’m continually missing the brightest and best part of the pass. Maybe I’ll try moving my telrad up near the finderscope and use the telrad as the initial guide.

I used a shutter speed of 1/1000s which was too long. I should’ve used 1/1250s to reduce the motion blur that ruined many of the frames. My Gamma was 125 and Gain was maximum (1023).

I captured at 60fps and had almost 200 frames on which the ISS appeared, but the ones later in the pass when the ISS was lower, smaller and further away were all unusable due to motion blur.

There’s another pass this afternoon which I hope to capture, but it’ll be a difficult one – at just after 5:30pm in the afternoon the sky will still be very bright so finding a star to pre-focus on will be tough.

Thanks for looking.

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