Over the next few days, the International Space Station is making a series of excellent early evening passes over the western United States. I missed the one Friday night due to clouds, but Saturday (9/11) was perfectly clear.
With my off-the-shelf digital camera set to ISO 400, f/3.5, and using a 15 second exposure, I got a couple of very cool shots. Here it is rising in the northwest over my back yard:
[Click to embiggen. You really should go see the biggest versions of these shots to appreciate them.]
The bright star in the center is the orange giant Arcturus, a star much like the Sun but already in its death throes. The Sun will look like Arcturus in about 6 billion more years… and bear in mind that while it was only about half as bright as the space station when I took that shot, Arcturus was about a trillion times farther away.
Here is another one I took a few seconds later, when the ISS was passing just to the south and east of the constellation of Corona Borealis: