Sun Pass

The ISS crosses the disk of the Sun. Click for full-size version. © Alan Friedman.

Astronomy hobbyist and solar photographer extraordinaire Alan Friedman captured a wonderful image of the International Space Station transiting the edge of the Sun’s disc during a Winter Star Party in Florida on March 1, 2011. Taken with a solar telescope that images the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, the image above clearly shows the ISS with solar panels outstretched – as well as the space shuttle Discovery docked in its lower center! Fantastic!

But this was no chance snapshot…precision timing and positioning were required. Alan explains:

“I was scheduled to give my talk 12:30-1:30 – the transit centerline was 69 minutes later, 20 miles to the north on Marathon.With help from Brian Shelton and Mark Beale, I finished my talk, jumped into the car with solar imaging gear and we got set up just in time to catch it. I underestimated the narrowness of this event. We were about 5000 feet south of the centerline in a good location… another 500 feet and we would have missed it entirely. Lucky day!”

– Alan Friedman

Lucky, perhaps, but a less-skilled photographer might have missed the shot entirely! Don’t sell yourself short, Mr. Friedman. 🙂

The dark silhouette of Discovery is visible at the center of the ISS

To think…the ISS is 220 miles above the Earth, the Sun 93 million miles further. And here they are together in perfect focus. Talk about from here to infinity!

Alan’s images have been frequently featured on as well as, the Huffington Post,  several installments of Astronomy Picture of the Day…and, of course, here on Lights in the Dark! (And lots more places too.) You can see another solar image by Alan taken during the Winter Star Party here.

Be sure to check out Alan’s astrophotography site for more great images and fine art prints of his photos available to order!

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

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