ISS and Iridium Flares

   Using a system that includes the NASA web site for ISS sightings, an App on my Kindle Fire HD, an Astronomy program on my desktop, and a few other resources I am able to plan photography sessions scheduled around the time that the ISS flies over my location and is high enough above my local horizon to be seen. At about the time of the fly over I set up my camera on a tripod and take a series of 1-3 second time exposures as fast as I can as the ISS flies past the camera field of view.

Iridium Satellite 77

Iridium Satellite 77

The result is a series of pictures that show a bright streak of light moving across the starry field of view making up the background. The banner picture for this page is a good example.
   Similarly I aim the camera toward the calculated spot for the Iridium satellite to turn as it repositions itself such that the solar panels reflect sunlight in my direction. When this happens the satellite which at first appears as a faint dot suddenly brightens, sometimes reaching a magnitude of -10 or greater. The brightest I have seen, as calculated by my app and other software and web sites, was around magnitude -6.

   Some software and websites for tracking and planning photo opportunities. A Kindle App, ISS Detector Pro, the ISS Sightings web site, SATVIEW web site, and the Starry Night software.

What does it feel like to fly over planet Earth? – by James Drake


               Below are links to some of my past postings about photographing the sky.
Iridium Satellite This Morning – 9 March 2014
ISS and Earth Rotation – 25 January 2014
ISS and the Kids – 26 December 2013
The Magnitude of the Situation – 16 October 2013
Evening Sky Views-ISS – 7 October 2013
Morning Sky Views – 7 October 2013
ISS Belts Orion – 2 October 2013
ISS This Morning – 29 September 2013
Tracking Satellites – Online – 18 September 2013
Tracking Satellites: An App – 15 September 2013
ISS and the Sisters – 14 September 2013
Catching an Iridium Flare – Part 2 – 5 September 2013
Catching an Iridium Flare – 4 September 2013

4 thoughts on “ISS and Iridium Flares

  1. Pingback: Tweets From ISS | Bob's Spaces

  2. Pingback: ISS, The Moon, and a Comet | Bob's Spaces

  3. Pingback: 2 Nights – 2 Fly Overs | Bob's Spaces

  4. How cool. Once in the 1990s I was living where we could see the shuttle approach the ISS to dock. It was wonderful, even though the ISS moved out of sight before the dots of light merged into one.


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