Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Satellite Transit Gallery

Following Skylab and Mir, the latest entry in orbit around our planet is the International Space Station. This piece of latest technology measures over 70 meters in length and represents the culmination of over seven years worth of work by a consortium of sixteen nations (United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe). With an original budget of 60 billion dollars and an anticipated 35 Shuttle missions for its complete construction, the life expectancy of Space Station Alpha is thirty years. The first section of the ISS, the 24.2-ton Zarya module, was put into orbit in Nov/98 and was followed by the placement of the US-constructed Unity module by the STS-98 crew in Dec/98. The third and fourth missions to ISS (STS-96 in June/99 and STS-101 in May/00) involved the transport of various tools and cranes in anticipation of the arrival of the third major component, namely the Zvezda Service Module in July/00. STS-97 in Nov/00 was the last shuttle mission of the 20th century and was responsible for the delivery and installation of the solar panels. The first shuttle mission of the 21st century, STS-98 (Feb/01), delivered the Destiny Laboratory Module. Finally, STS-100 (Apr/01) delivered the station's robot arm and a second reusable cargo system (the Italian built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module known as "Rafaello" which follows the earlier similar system "Leonardo").

Note: Earlier this year, the ISS was successfully captured transiting the Sun (click here) following the departure of Atlantis (STS-132) and whose primary purpose during its twelve-day mission was to deliver and install two main modules to the ISS, namely the Integrated Cargo Carrier and a Russian-built Mini Research Module (MRM-1) which was attached to the Zarya module. STS-132 represented Atlantis' eleventh and final flight to the ISS and was sceduled to be retired from the active fleet immediately thereafter.

A few days thereafter, a successful first attempt to capture the ISS without transiting either the sun or moon as background was realized and which is most difficult given the lack of contrast presented by the daytime bright sky as well as the immense difficulty in achieving perfect focus. The ISS (42.1 arc-secs apparent diameter) was captured on two successive digital images spaced approximately 0.33 seconds while transiting Jupiter (37.53 arc-secs in diameter, mag -2.3 and with a phase of 99.1%) at an elongation of 69 degrees from Sol and 34 degrees altitude.

The opportunity below involving Mars was relatively more difficult owing to the fact that the Sun was higher (41+ degrees altitude) and Mars is characterized with a magnitude of only 1.5 as well as a miniscule diameter of only 4.17 arc-secs. Equally important is the fact that Mars was at an elongation of only 34.2 degrees. As indicated by the composite image below, four consecutive frames spaced approximately 0.33 seconds apart were successfully captured during ISS's flyby of Mars in broad daylight.

Image Details
ISS flyby of Mars
Imaging Details
Int Space Station

25544 (ISS)

Physical Dimensions:
73.0 x 44.5 x 27.5 m

Orbit / Inclination:
351.3 x 355.1 km, 51.6

Range (Image):
565.9 km

Angular Diameter:
32.7 " (ISS)

Pass Details (ISS):
Duration : N/A
Angular Vel : 37.9 ' / sec
Direction : 135.6
Azimuth : 177.8
Altitude : 37.2

Launch Date (UTC):
Nov   20, 1998   (ISS)

Sep 27, 2010
15:17:14 - 15:17:15 UT+3

Athens, Greece

AP 160 f/7.5 StarFire EDF
AP 2x Convertible Barlow
Canon EOS 5D Mark I
Baader UV/IR-Cut filter

4 x 1/1600 sec
ISO 1600
RAW image format
4368x2912 image size
Continuous Servo Mode
Manual Mode

Photoshop CS2

RAW to TIFF (16-bit conv)
JPG Compression