Spectacular new ISS picture… from the ground!

By Phil Plait | September 1, 2009 7:41 am

The very talented astrophotographer Ralf Vandebergh has done it again! He’s captured an astonishing view of the International Space Station:

ISS picture by Ralf Vandebergh

Wow. You may remember Ralf’s earlier ISS shot, or when he caught an astronaut doing an EVA.

This image was taken on August 29, before the current Discovery mission, and shows the station gleaming in sunlight. On the right he has helpfully pointed out the Japanese Experiment Module, named Kibo. It consists of a pressurized module as well as a platform outside, exposed to space. The Exposed Facility was brought up to ISS in late July 2009 by Endeavour, and is the newest addition to the station.

[UPDATE! Ralf just sent me another great shot, this one taken after the Shuttle launch, as Discovery approached the station. The Orbiter is not in the same field of view as ISS so he added it to the ISS picture as an inset:

ISS and the Shuttle Discovery by Ralf Vandebergh

Pretty cool, huh?]

Mind you, this shot was taken with a 10 inch telescope, which is considered small-to-moderate in size these days. Even more amazing, Ralf manually tracks the telescope while taking pictures of the station! No fancy computers autoguiding or anything like that. Just good old-fashioned steady hands and lots and lots of practice.

Congrats to Ralf for another incredible shot!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures

Comments (25)

  1. I’ve taken my family to a local dimly lit parking lot a couple of times to see ISS pass overhead, in the evening.

    One time in particular I think Endeavour was docked and there was an EVA underway. To think that bright dot moving across the sky had people inside (and even outside). It was amazing. Can’t wait to see it again!

  2. One more reason I need to move to the country…I miss seeing stars in the sky at night.

  3. In America, you photograph satellite. In Soviet Russia, satellite photograph you.

  4. Claire

    I got chills looking the photo you linked with the astronaut doing an EVA. Unbelievable.

  5. If conspiracy theorists are looking for new ideas*, the ISS sure is starting to look like a swastika.

    *Hey, I like to help out where I can.

  6. Keith (the first one)

    Awesome. That’s very impressive.

    (I noticed another Keith posting here)

  7. Kevin

    Speaking of conspiracy theorists, did any of you read that even Neil Armstrong is now saying that he didn’t land on the moon?

    Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked

    Oh yeah…. ūüėÄ ūüėČ

  8. Why am I seeing double?

  9. @Shane

    I LOLed too, but here’s a little nitpick. Ralf is from the Netherlands ūüėČ

    /Saw some of his pics at Spaceweather.com and some other sites. All of them hand-guided. This guy must be a genius. Kudos!

  10. chaboyax

    i just love seeing this come over has any one here seen it in daytime i have once very early am

  11. @chaboyax

    Searching for daylight passes? Look at http://www.heavens-above.com. Select your observing site and you’ll get daylight and night passes with altitude, azimuth and the exact times.

  12. That’s amazing. I recently saw the flyover when the shuttle and space station where closing in on each other. Awesome!

  13. coolstar

    There’s a actually a reason that most of the best photos of the ISS and shuttle are taken with small telescopes: it doesn’t help to use larger ones. Resolution is effectively set by the “seeing” and one of the main determinants of that is called the “Fried parameter” which is essentially (and somewhat simplistically) the average size of a refracting blob of air above the telescope.
    Even at great seeing sites, that’s around 10-20 cm or about 4-8 inches. Once your aperture gets much larger than that, you’re averaging over lots of little blobs of air, which makes things worse. Most of these shots are also taken with very short exposure times, to help “freeze” the seeing. Professionals have learned this technique from amateurs and call it “lucky imaging”.
    (well, it can help to use larger telescopes, of course, if you have a million dollar adaptive optics set up…….).

  14. John Keller

    There was some loon on godlikeproducts stating that the ISS was fake.

    Here’s a link to a site that give you information on ISS sightings.


  15. MadScientist

    Ralph’s certainly committed and does great with the equipment he has. Anyone with observing time on maybe a 50″ telescope want to try to see what comes up? Just whack a digital movie camera on the back – that’s got beamsplitters filters and multiple detectors so you don’t get artefacts due to changing filters and don’t get such bad artefacts if you need to blow up the image. Of course you’ll need a ‘scope which can be programmed to track an object in orbit and which can slew pretty fast.

  16. little vampire

    In case you sit in bed one night (or day) and wonder how many people are in space right now, here you’ll find the answer: http://www.howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow.com/. Though, it doesn’t say how many mice or frogs are in space.

  17. chaboyax

    thanks Fritriac thats how i find them but good info for people that didnt know

  18. A collection of Ralf’s best images of the ISS, Space Shuttle and other Satellites, including information about Ralf himself, is here:

    Amazing Images of the International Space Station

    Well done on this excellent new image, Ralf!

  19. Mike

    keep looking at the moon, this year or next its going to be released by the UN that the world governments had discovered a long time ago that there are bases and mines on the moon,
    recently in the last 2 to 3 years a pioneer astrophotographer in the UK has created a unique camera set up that allows him to film the moon like no one has ever filmed before, as technology improves so does his filming system
    this is not a hoax or a joke but i am writing to get the attention of only a few folks who have the ability to think beyond what they are taught to believe regarding the moon
    go on you tube and check out the most recent footage of the moon from the last 6 months filmed and put on utube by John Lenard Wilson
    hes filming roads, mines, satelitte dishes, radio masts, a huge amount of machinery and a huge amount roads, bridges
    we as a group called humanity will step out of the dark ages very soon
    this truth of civilisation and beings on the moon is going to be breaking news soon
    you dont have to force yourself to believe, just be open minded and start to review the footage of the moon that is now coming out
    Nasa has known this for years and more but its in Nasa constitution that they can never confirm the fact that extraterrestials exist because they thought we wouldnt be able to cope with that fact
    but humanity is all grown up now and we are ready and the truth is coming soon


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