Photographer Captures Image of the ISS Crossing in Front of the Moon

Photographer Captures Image of the ISS Crossing in Front of the Moon

With a bit a of planning, patience, and a whole bunch of luck, Australian photographer Dylan O'Donnell managed to capture this great shot of the International Space Station crossing in front of the face of an almost-full moon.O'Donnell attempted to capture this image once before almost a year ago but, in his own words, "completely botched it".

The CalSky website sends me alerts for potential fly overs for which I’ve been waiting a long time – about 12 months. I got one this week and this was adjusted by 15 seconds by the time of the “occultation”.

Because of the speed at which the ISS orbits the Earth, the satellite crosses in front of the moon unbelievably fast, roughly 1/3 of a second. To plan for this, O'Donnell had to keep one eye on the clock and one hand on his shutter release, hoping for the best.

If you think that it might be a case of sitting there with your camera and a clock, with one hand on the shutter release, you’d be absolutely correct! The ISS only passed over the moon for 0.33 seconds as it shoots by quite quickly. Knowing the second it would pass I fired a “burst” mode of exposures then crossed my fingers and hoped it would show up in review – and it did!

O'Donnell mounted his Canon 70D to his Celestron 9.25″ telescope (equivalent to a 2300mm/f10 telephoto lens) and dialed in an exposure of 1/1650th of a second at ISO 800. He then stacked multiple exposures to create his final image.

I took about a second of further exposures on either side of the pass to stack the lunar surface detail using AutoStakkert2, and the increased the saturation in post to create this colour enhanced version of the moon. The colours on the moon relate to the chemical composition of moon geology.

He includes a close up crop of his image so you can see the definition of the satellite.


O'Donnell is no stranger to astrophotography, he has a whole collection of his photos available on his website. Oh, and as if that wasn't cool enough, he he offers up the majority of his images completely free. Congratulations on a fantastic photo Dylan!

[Via Dylan O'Donnell]

Andrew Strother's picture

Andrew is a professional photographer based in Houston, Texas. Texas is better than all other states including Canada.

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THAT is a Tie Fighter! Just in time for the new movies!

Exactly what I was thinking! Clearly a TIE Fighter! :)

That's no moon...