ISS above London is back

August 31, 2010 21:21 by scibuff

After a short stay in Amsterdam my photo equipment is back in London snapping photos of ISS fly-overs whenever the weather permits. Here’s a stacked composite of the International Space Station (ISS) pass over London at 20:30 UTC tonight.

ISS fly over London

ISS fly over London with 2 minutes worth of star trails from the "zodiac" constellation of Ophiuchus. The bright star to the right of the ISS trail is Arcturus - Canon 450D, 20x5s f/4.5 ISO 400

Click on the the photo to see more details and star trails.

Sky chart for ISS fly over London

Sky chart for ISS fly over London - Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - 20:31:57 - 20:35:56 UTC - Source: Heavens-Above.com

For more information about (visible) passes of ISS, and satellites, not only in London but for any place on Earth, visit the heavens above website. You can also follow @twisst, @abovelondon and @abovesf (if you’re in the San Francisco area) on twitter.

ISS groundtrack

The ground track of ISS with its current position - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earth's shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

ISS above London 5

July 13, 2009 00:00 by scibuff

Update 1: In case you’re wondering, the bright star in the top-left is Arcturus – α Boo, the brightest star on the northern celestial hemisphere (positive declination).

As I was watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch NASA TV live coverage, I stepped briefly outside and took a few photos of the ISS fly-b. My tripod obviously isn’t that good with long(er) exposures so this time made a series of 2s takes as well.

Date Mag. Start * End *
12 Jul -3.4 22:27:52 22:33:44

* all times are in BST and represent the moment when the station’s elevation drops below 10°.

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 2s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 5s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 5s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 10s f/4.5 ISO 800

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 10s f/4.5 ISO 800

Sky chart for ISS fly over London - Sunday, July 22, 2009 - 21:27:59 - 21:33:52 UTC - Source: Heavens-Above.com

Sky chart for ISS fly over London - Sunday, July 22, 2009 - 21:27:59 - 21:33:52 UTC - Source: Heavens-Above.com

For more information about (visible) passes of ISS, and satellites, not only in London but for any place on Earth, visit the heavens above website. You can also follow @twisst, @abovelondon and @abovesf on twitter.

The ground track of ISS with its current position - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earths shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

The ground track of ISS with its current position - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earth's shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

ISS above London 4

July 6, 2009 16:35 by scibuff

Update 1: Thanks to @Bigyan I’ve fixed the link to the flickr set (oh man, i gotta stop using url-shortening in posts)

I just received my new Canon 450D camera in mail on Saturday so I did a bit of poking around different settings (mostly on manual) to get various photos just right. Here’s my first shot at the International Space Station (ISS) pass over London at 00:31 UTC on July 06, 2009 (adjusted for WordPress – for higher res see my flickr set)

ISS Above London (with star names and constellations) - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London (with star names and constellations) - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

ISS Above London - Canon 450D, exp. 20s f/10 ISO 400

The ISS will be visible in London until July 25 with the next window starting on August 18. Below is the list of the “best” passes over the UK’s capital:

Date Mag. Start * End *
7 Jul -3.5 00:46:39 00:52:31
7 Jul -3.5 02:21:53 02:27:43
7 Jul -3.3 23:36:05 23:41:49
8 Jul -3.4 01:11:10 01:17:02
8 Jul -3.3 02:46:24 02:52:08
9 Jul -3.5 00:00:28 00:06:19
9 Jul -3.5 01:35:41 01:41:32
9 Jul -3.3 22:49:51 22:55:36
10 Jul -3.4 00:24:57 00:30:49
10 Jul -3.3 02:00:11 02:05:54
10 Jul -3.4 23:14:12 23:20:04
11 Jul -3.5 00:49:26 00:54:10
11 Jul -3.2 22:03:32 22:09:18
11 Jul -3.4 23:38:39 23:44:31
12 Jul -3.0 01:13:53 01:16:19
12 Jul -3.4 22:27:52 22:33:44
13 Jul -3.5 00:03:05 00:07:29
13 Jul -3.3 22:52:17 22:58:10
14 Jul -3.1 00:27:31 00:30:13
14 Jul -3.3 21:41:28 21:47:21
14 Jul -3.4 23:16:41 23:21:37
15 Jul -3.3 22:05:51 22:11:44
15 Jul -3.1 23:41:04 23:44:29
16 Jul -3.4 22:30:13 22:35:58
16 Jul -3.4 22:30:13 22:35:58
17 Jul -3.0 22:54:34 22:58:54
18 Jul -3.3 21:43:40 21:49:32

* all times are in BST and represent the moment when the station’s elevation drops below 10°.

Source: Heavens-Above.com

For more information about (visible) passes of ISS, and satellites, not only in London but for any place on Earth, visit the heavens above website. You can also follow @twisst, @abovelondon and @abovesf on twitter.

The ground track of ISS with its current position - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earths shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

The ground track of ISS with its current position - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earth's shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

ISS above London 3

May 21, 2009 00:56 by scibuff

The ISS made another pass over London. Once again, after almost two months, my Nokia N96 was ready to capture the event.

Currently, we are almost at the end of ca 40 day period during which the ISS is visible in London either shortly after the sunset or just before the sunrise. The last visible pass until June 22 will be on Tuesday, May 26 with maximum -0.2mag at 21:23 BST (UT+1). However, today was the last time the station reached -2.4mag until 03:57 BST on June 29. The animated sequence below shows the ISS around the time of maximum visual brightness passing through the constellations of Gemini, Cancer and Leo Minor (no stars are visible).

ISS during a pass above London on May 20, 2009

ISS during a pass above London on May 20, 2009

For more information about (visible) passes of ISS, and satellites, not only in London but for any place on Earth, visit heavens above website.

The ground track of ISS (orbit #60142) - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earth's shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

The ground track of ISS (orbit #60142) - The dashed part of the orbit path shows where the satellite is in the earth's shadow, and the full part is where it is sunlit - Source: Heavens-Above.com

ISS above London 2

March 21, 2009 22:12 by scibuff

The International Space Station made another great fly over London a few hours ago (19:24 UT). At the maximum brightness (-2.4mag), the station overshone any other object in the sky. Observing conditions were slightly worse tonight than yesterday, nevertheless, the image sequence below is a little better than the composite from my last pos (ISS above London).

ISS flies above London reaching -2.4 mag. at 19:23:35UT on March 20, 2009

ISS flies above London reaching -2.4 mag. at 19:23:35UT on March 20, 2009

The ISS will make a several great appearances over London in the next few days ( 7 passed brighter than -2.0 mag in the next week). The next visible pass during which the station will reach -2.3mag, will occur tomorrow at 19:47:52 UT. Monday offers two remarkable fly-overs (starting at 18:39:41UT and 20:15:08UT) each reaching -2.3 mag. More information about the current position as well as fly-over predictions for ISS (and many other objects) are available at Heavens Above.

ISS above London

March 20, 2009 23:54 by scibuff

The International Space Station (ISS) takes about 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. Because of its inclination of 51.6° it “flies” above any single place (between +51.6° and -51.6° latitude) a few times a day. Nonetheless, the station can be observed from the ground only under right conditions – shortly before sunrise or after sunset when the sky is darkened and sun light reflects from the station before it slides into the night.

Today, two passes were observable from the UK’s capital. The first started a few seconds after 18:51 UT and the station reached the altitude of 10° after 2 minutes (at around 18:31:30UT). It passed through the constellations of Eridanus, Orion, Gemini, Canis Minor, Cancer and Leo where it slowly sank into Earth’s shadow. At the maximum brightness, ISS was twice as bright (approx -2.0 mag) as the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius (-1.46 mag).

The second pass, during the station’s next orbit, wasn’t as glorious as the first. The station climbed over the horizon at 20:26 UT but wasn’t observable until it reached the altitude of about 10-15° at around 20:29 UT and appeared from behind the fog and light pollution.

ISS above London

ISS above London

I took the picture above with the digital camera on my Nokia N96. As you can imagine, light pollution is terrible in London. It wasn’t before some image reduction (using dark frames) that the captured station clearly appeared. I used the camera set to 800 ISO, decreased contrast (I wish I had remembered the black & white option) and in the burst sequence mode. Unfortunately, after 20 photos, the phone couldn’t store the raw image data in the buffer any more and began writing the data to disk effectively turning the camera to stand-by. At that point all I could do was to enjoy the show through my own eyes.

One piece of good news is that before a blackout window from April 1 through April 22 during which the ISS will not be observable from London, no less that eight majestic passes, each showing the ISS brighter than -2 mag, will be visible. More information about ISS visibility (for any location on the planet) can be found on Heavens Above.

From left to right, Expedition 18 flight engineers Koichi Wakata and Yury Lonchakov and Commander Mike Fincke are joined by former Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus, now an STS-119 mission specialist, for a media interview aboard the ISS - Source: NASA TV

From left to right, Expedition 18 flight engineers Koichi Wakata and Yury Lonchakov and Commander Mike Fincke are joined by former Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus, now an STS-119 mission specialist, for a media interview aboard the ISS - Source: NASA TV

As the ISS passed above London, I also watched the astronauts aboard the station during a live video broadcast on NASA TV. It was an interesting experience hearing the crew in TV while watching the station pass through Orion and reach -2.4 mag. During the conference, the crew answered questions about the recent debris collision alerts and described the view from the station. Apparently, astronauts can not only see the continents, mountains and cities but also airports, bridges and even some buildings. The Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke talked about the tremendous value of international cooperation in projects such as the ISS and compared it to the utopian society from the Star Trek universe. He also answered an frequently asked question: it is impossible to see the Great Wall even under ideal weather conditions despite its length (over 6400km). The wall is not that wide, and made from native materials that match the color of the surrounding landscape.