On Wednesday night, two nights ago, there was a pretty nice ISS pass scheduled. On the one hand, it was the last good one for a while. On the other hand, it was partially cloudy with a storm moving in and WINDY AS HELL!!! By which I mean that when setting up I twice had to grab the tripod to keep it from going over, and it was set firmly on level ground, not on a slope or with any other issue. And it’s not a cheap, flimsy tripod either.
I wasn’t at all sure that I would even see the ISS at all and I wasn’t having fun out in the wind. But I just (finally!) got some really great results in capturing the ISS, so I wanted to see if I could duplicate them. So, what the heck? Try it! What have I got to lose, right? Disc space and memory are dirt cheap, it’s not like I was shooting on film. So, holding down the tripod with one hand, triggering the remote with the other, hoping that the wind and my holding down the camera wasn’t jiggling everything too much, I set out to see if I got lucky.
Blow that sucker up to full sized to see it in all its glory. ISS is coming from the lower left (you can see it just starting to clear the horizon, actually in the bare branches of the tree across the street) toward the upper right through the cross of Cygnus. If you look at it full-sized you can also tell which way is north by comparing the start trails (almost five minutes long) on the left and on the right. North is to the right – the star trails there are much shorter since they’re near the pole.
Swinging around to the north, we see the ISS fading toward the horizon and fading to black in the very last frame. And speaking of star trails (there’s only about a minute’s worth in this picture) that bright star right near the start of the ISS trail is Polaris, the north star. It’s not trailing at all, because as the Earth spins it appears to stand still in the sky. But all of the stars around it will trail, some that way, some this, all in a circle around Polaris.
Another thing I noticed:
In this individual frame the ISS is crystal clear, as is the roof on the house across the street, and the telephone pole on the left. The image is in focus. But those tall palm trees in the lower center? Nope, they were whipping all over the place during this five-second exposure and they’re blurry as hell.
Ditto for this single frame looking north. Telephone pole and our roof in good, sharp focus. The cedar trees were having and E-ticket night with those winds.
I guess that I’m glad I gave it shot!