ISS & Dragon

There was a so-so ISS pass over SoCal tonight.

(Image from

It was low, it was only a partially visible pass, I’ve got a street light smack dab in the middle of that view from my front yard so I would have to go down the hill a ways to see it…



The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that was carrying four astronauts (three from the US, one from Japan) was about 7km from ISS, getting ready to dock. I was hoping to be able to see the two of them flying together, like a double star cruising across the sky.


Coming up from the center bottom toward the top of that telephone pole (ignore all of the power lines, and that plane heading off toward Camarillo) is the trail of the two spacecraft. It fades into orbital night just as it passes the pole.

Here are the blown up version of the last three five-second exposures, from right to left. You can see how bright the streak is on the right, fading in the center, and going quickly to orange, red, and black on the left.

I wasn’t at all sure that I would really be able to see the two vehicles as discrete points of light since they were so close, but it was quite distinct and amazing. The pictures don’t show it well because: a) the long, five-second exposures blur the two together since they’re traveling in the same direction, and; b) that stupid issue I’m still having with getting this lens to focus for astrophotography.

Nonetheless, click on that wide combination of three images to blow it up to full size. Look at that middle image. As the two started to fade and get dimmer, they start to not record photons over the top of each other and you can (kinda? sorta?) see that there are two streaks there right next to each other, not one large streak.

And of course, shortly after this, we got to watch this:

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