I knew exactly where it was going to rise, where it was going to set, how high it was going to be. (Thanks, Heavens Above!)
I knew where the edge of the frame was. (Just past that honkin’ big tree, good landmark!)
I knew where to move the camera when it exited the frame so that I could see where it was going to go over the horizon to the northeast while being in the shadow of the telephone pole to block the light from that street light.
Check the focus.
It’s earlier and the sky’s brighter than it’s been the last couple of days, so go back to one second exposures instead of five seconds. Can I do two second exposures? Maybe, but don’t push your luck, stick with what has worked.
Trust the data.
Trust the plan.
I was ready.
Go ahead, click on that image and enlarge it! Look down there in the lower left corner where the first three or four dozen dots are almost lost in the coastal haze out over Malibu. Trust the data, indeed. There it is in the first frame, just peeking over the neighbor’s roof, exactly where I expected it to be! Then look up in that upper right corner, where on frame #6085 it’s just leaving the frame…
…and 24 seconds later, having moved the camera and lined it up, frame #6086 shows it coming into the frame here in the upper left! Nailed it!
One thing I wanted to see the picture for because it was really obvious to the eye – look at the bottom center where the ISS is just about to go over the horizon. See how throughout its path it’s about the same brightness, fading just a little as it got into the haze off toward Bakersfield? But just about there it got noticeably brighter for about 12 seconds? The data’s there. It happened.
My guess is that, being at the end of the daylight portion of the orbit, the big solar panels were maneuvering into position to pick up the sun coming around on the other side and in doing so they flared. Just my guess, but it fits.
The only downside tonight was that the focus was just a tiny little bit off. Not much, but enough to be a little annoying since almost everything else was perfect.
It’s been a great week for ISS passes here in LA!