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ISS Lunar Transits

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November 10, 2008 ISS Lunar Transit

Image -- Large

Additional solar panels have been deployed since my last attempt over two years ago.   This would be an excellent opportunity to video record the transit since the  ISS was to be at a range of only 242 miles.  I traveled a few miles to get  to the observing site in Livermore, CA.  In the field, I did not see the ISS transit at all.  It was only until I returned home and reviewed the video tape, that I noticed a very fast streak just catch the upper right corner of the field of view.

Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and  KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.  

The four-second video of the transit can be seen here:

Windows Media 280 KB


October 6, 2006 ISS Lunar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

This would be my first attempt at an ISS lunar transit after the deployment of the new solar arrays.   The ISS was going to be at a range of only 260 miles.  Thanks to the e-mail from Thomas Fly's ISS Transit Alert service, I knew in advance that I had to travel 15 miles to get to the observing site just outside Tracy, CA.  After obtaining the latest orbital elements from Space-Track.org and entering them into SkyMapPro, I knew where to point my telescope.  The transit would occur very near impact crater Tycho!   The composite image above consists of 6 frames (12 fields) with the ISS moving right to left. 

Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and the KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.  

The four-second video of the transit can be seen in various formats:

Windows Media: low bandwidth 137 KBhigh bandwidth 1.04 MB

Animated GIF: 360x240 801 KB, 720x480 2.72 MB

Mpeg-1: 360x240 993 KB

Mpeg-2: 720x480 3.25 MB


February 13, 2006 ISS Lunar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

When I received the e-mail from Thomas Fly's ISS Transit Alert service, I knew right away I had to attempt this transit.  The ISS was going to be at a range of only 238 miles, closer than any other transit that I have attempted.  Even though I had to travel 50 miles to get to a suitable observing site just outside Newman, CA, it would be worth the drive from my home in Livermore, CA.  I scouted out a location during the day and kept an eye out for the latest elements from Space-Track.org.  An updated Two Line Element set was posted about 30 minutes before the transit which allowed me to zoom in on a specific location of the moon.  Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and the KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.  The composite image above consists of 4 frames (8 fields) with the ISS moving right to left. 

The five-second video of the transit can be seen in various formats:

Windows Media: 360x240 low bandwidth 165 KB, 360x240 high bandwidth 247 KB, 720x480 high bandwidth 982 KB

Animated GIF: 360x240 846 KB, 720x480 2.1 MB

Mpeg-1: 360x240 1.2 MB

Mpeg-2: 720x480 3.0 MB


January 30, 2004 ISS Lunar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

The ISS was at a range of only 271 miles for this transit. The predicted center line was only 2.3 miles from home.  Once again, I scouted a location during the day.  And once again, at the time of the event there were thin clouds in front of the moon.  The ISS was not positioned as favorably as in the November 8, 2003 event (see below), but nevertheless, I'm satisfied with the video and  composite image.  The composite image actually consists of 4 frames with the ISS moving right to left (the fourth image of the ISS is within the lunar terminator between two craters -- if you look carefully in the large image, you can make out the solar panels).  Equipment used: 10" F/10 LX200GPS, No Focal Reducer, and Watec 902H CCD Video Camera.  Audio from WWV.  FOV: 7.75’ x 5.875’

Click here to see 2 second MPG video (320x240, 388KB)

Click here to see 2 second WMV video (720x480, 581KB)

Note:  Once again the ISS flies in and out of the FOV very quickly (4 frames). 

Alert information for this transit

SkyMapPro map for this transit

Click here to see a map of the observing site for this transit


November 8, 2003 ISS Lunar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

This was my first attempt to video an ISS transit in which I had to go mobile.  Since the ISS was going to be at a range of only 264 miles (that's twice as close as the event on July 12, 2003, below), I decided I would attempt it.  The predicted center line was only about 10 miles from my home in Livermore, CA.  I selected an observing location near Tracy, CA during the day.  There were thin clouds at the time of the event with a relative humidity of 100% and temperature 54 degrees F.  Despite the weather, the result was a spectacular video of the event!  Equipment used: 10" F/10 LX200GPS, No Focal Reducer, and Watec 902H CCD Video Camera.  Audio from WWV.  FOV: 7.75’ x 5.875’

Click here to see the 556KB video

Note:  The ISS flies in and out of the field of view in about one-tenth of a second (3 frames).  Those of you using QuickTime to view the video can single-step through frames using the arrow keys.  You can also pause the video and use the horizontal slider to move to the frames which include the ISS. 

Alert information for this transit

SkyMapPro map for this transit

Click here to see Thomas Fly's Analysis for this transit

UPDATED, September 30, 2005:   I now use VirtualDub to create composite images, with the ViewFields filter.  These tools allow me to extract fields (60 per second) instead of frames (30 per second), which produce twice as many still images to go into the composite image.  This Lunar Transit Image has been updated using this new technique.


July 12, 2003 ISS Lunar Transit

ISSLunarTransit030712Comp.jpg

Video taken July 12, 2003 from my backyard in Livermore, CA.  Equipment used: 10" F/10 LX200GPS, No Focal Reducer, and Watec 902H CCD Video Camera.  Audio from WWV.  FOV: 7.75’ x 5.875’

Click here to see the 165KB video

Alert information for this transit

SkyMapPro map for this transit



September 12 and 15, 2006 ISS/Atlantis Solar Transits

September 12

I was able to catch two ISS solar transits the same week while the Space Shuttle Atlantis was docked to it.  In both instances, the Sun was too low in the sky to get sharp details.  These transits were part of a busy week for me which included mobile observations of the El Nath graze and the occultation of a star by the asteroid Vibilia only 5 hours before the September 15th transit. 

Composite Image -- Large

The above composite image was taken from the video.  Unfortunately the video tape was defective, so there is a significant "wave" to the video and images.  Nevertheless, the transit is clearly visible, and it is unlikely that a good video tape would have been able to show us both the ISS and Atlantis in significant detail.  This map shows the Sun, along with my CCD camera field of view and the NASA element path prediction.  The ISS was at a range of  935 miles.   Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope with Solar Filter, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and the KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.

Windows Media video of ISS/Atlantis transit: 467 KB

An interesting side note to this transit is that less than a minute following the transit, a plane zoomed by in the field of view.  Not too surprising, since I live nearby Livermore airport.

Composite Image -- Large

Windows Media video of plane transit: 225 KB

September 15

Composite Image -- Large

The transit prediction for my home was right on the edge of the Sun, where there was a chance of a miss.  This map shows the Sun, along with my CCD camera field of view and the Space-Track.org element path prediction.  The ISS was at a range of  506 miles.   Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope with Solar Filter, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and the KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.

Windows Media video: 185 KB

Mpeg1 video: 487 KB


August 29, 2006 ISS Solar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

The first alert I received for this transit had my home right on the center line.  The final alert had me only 0.2 miles from the path edge.  To complicate matters, CalSky and the Space-Track.org  elements had my home outside the path.  Only the NASA elements had me inside the path edge.  This map shows the Sun, along with my CCD camera field of view, the NASA element path and the SpaceTrack element path.  The actual ISS path split the difference and was barely inside the Sun's edge.  The ISS was at a range of  342 miles.   Equipment used: Meade 10" F/10 LX200GPS telescope with Solar Filter, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and the KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.  The composite image above consists of 5 frames (10 fields) with the ISS moving bottom to top.   Sunspot complex 905 is on the left side of the field of view.

The four-second video of the transit can be seen in various formats:

Windows Media: low bandwidth 119 KBhigh bandwidth 928 KB

Animated GIF: small 508 KB, large 1.94 MB


September 30, 2005 ISS Solar Transit

Composite Image -- Large

Wow, it has been over a year and a half since my last successful attempt to video record a transit.  This transit was actually the second in as many weeks that was visible from my backyard.  The first transit was a no show, but this one did not disappoint.  The ISS was at a range of  376 miles.  The composite image consists of 6 frames (12 fields) with the ISS moving right to left.  Equipment used: 10" F/10 LX200GPS, No Focal Reducer, Watec 902H CCD Video Camera and my new KIWI OSD Video Time-inserter connected to a Garmin-18 LVC GPS.

Click here to see 2 second WMV video (720x480, 475KB)

Alert information for this transit

SkyMapPro map for this transit

CalSky map for this transit

Click here to see a Google Earth map of the observing site and ISS Shadow path for this transit (640KB)



June 1, 2003 ISS Solar Transit

ISSSolarTransit030601Comp.jpg

Video take June 1, 2003 from my backyard in Livermore, CA.  Sunspot region 373 is to the left as the ISS flies past below. Equipment used: 10" LX200GPS, F/3.3 Focal Reducer, Solar Filter, & Watec 902H CCD Video Camera. FOV: 19.92' x 15.00'

Click here to see the 205KB video

Alert information for this transit

SkyMapPro map for this transit



ISS Transit predictions obtained using the ISS Transit Prediction Program

A few hours before the predicted transit event, I download the latest ISS orbital elements from the NASA Spaceflight web site and Space-Track.org.  I then load the elements closest to the prediction time into Sky Map Pro.  From there I print out a map which provides details of the transit, including Altitude & Azimuth, direction of ISS, time of transit and CCD Field of View.  Other resources I use are Heavens Above and Cal Sky.



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