Entries tagged as ISS

Nikon P1000 observes ISS-Sun transit

Nikon CoolPix P1000 observes the Sun next to Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope

Encouraged with the results from the previous observation, I took the Nikon P1000 outside during the day to take the photos of the ISS crossing in front of the Sun. Last time I was able to see the transit at home was three and a half years ago. I also got my Celestron telescope out as a backup in case any one of the equipment failed to record the phenomenon. The camera needed a solar filter like the telescope, so I bought an ND100000 glass filter online for US$40 that provided the same amount of light reduction.

Full-resolution composite of the ISS passing in front of the Sun on November 3, 2018 (click for the full photo)

Although the P1000 has burst mode, it can only take seven photos in a span of a second. The window of opportunity was too narrow, so instead of taking the risk I used the 4K 30fps video capability instead. It would sacrifice image quality, but I was sure to get the shot if the frame and focus were right. And sure enough, the transit was captured successfully as you see above.

Stacked image of the ISS shows the details

The result may not be not quite as sharp as using a telescope, but much of the features of the space station were distinguishable. Perhaps I should try the burst mode the next time I get the opportunity to see if that makes a difference.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 400 - 1/500s - f/8
Filters: ICE N100000 (Neutral Density 16.5 Stop)
Time: 2018-11-03 10:48:02 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
17 photos processed with Pixelmator and RegiStax 6.1.0.8

Tracking the ISS with Nikon P1000

Int'l Space Station captured by Nikon P1000 on October 27, 2018

Next target I've been eyeing to take some photos of using the powerful zoom provided by the Nikon CoolPix P1000 camera was the International Space Station. Although it's a fast-moving target, I have experience with other equipment and the P1000's zoom should be sufficient enough to let me distinguish major features under ideal conditions, similar to the photos I took using a telescope. One such pass happened on October 26, coming in as close as 410km, but the thick clouds prevented me from taking the shots. Luckily, a slightly worse backup opportunity (closest approach of 572km) happened just a day after and I made the best of it - what you see above is the result.

iPhone 5S was used to help track the ISS as the P1000 took photos

As it was the case with SX50 HS, tracking the station is nearly impossible with just the integrated screens on the camera. So I enlisted the help of an iPhone mounted on the camera's hot shoe. It was very effective and I was able to take an unbroken sequence of the space station for more than a minute, until it went out of my view. If you want to see the whole thing, watch the video below. I think it was good for a first try with a new camera. More opportunities are to follow in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.



Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 100 - 1/320s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2018-10-27 05:29-05:31 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
78 photos processed with PIPP 2.5.9 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8
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Today’s “The Toon-Box”

A more successful tracking of ISS

ISS as seen from Naju in April 12, 2018

After several days of clear skies, clouds have been rolling in for the past two days. Amazingly, they did thin out for a few hours in the evening, enabling me to see the ISS for two consecutive days under good conditions. Tracked observation on April 11 failed due to low battery on the telescope, but I was better prepared on April 12 and made a successful tracking.

The International Space Station was 546km away from me at the closest approach at 19:38:03 (408km altitude, -3.6 mag brightness), so the second photo from the bottom right is representative of this. It is coincidentally the clearest photo I got. You can identify many of the modules - starting from the Zvezda module on the top and moving down, you can see the Zarya module in the center with two radiator panels side by side. On the bottom, you can see the cluster of Columbus-Harmony-Kibo modules in the center, with large solar panels on each end. The bright spot is likely where the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the CRS-14 mission is currently docked at.


As I have captured several hundreds of frames, it was sufficient enough to arrange them into this 34-second video clip. I have hosted the file on the website, and it should be watchable on a modern browser.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone X (afocal)
Settings: 28mm - ISO 400 - 1/1500s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Date/Time: 2018-04-12 19:37-19:38 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
Photos processed with PIPP 2.5.6 and RegiStax 6.1.0.8
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ISS and Rigel as seen by iPhone X

Composite of 50 frames showing ISS making a pass near Rigel (35% size)

The International Space Station was to make a very close pass to Rigel, one of the brightest stars making up the Orion constellation, last Saturday evening where I live. The separation at the closest point was around 0.055°, making it look like the space station passing right over the star to the naked eye. Instead of manual tracking, I decided to fix the telescope on Rigel and record the pass with iPhone X's 4K 60fps video mode. A total of 50 consecutive frames captured the rapid movement. The windy condition, coupled with relatively low angle (35.6°) blurred the results a lot, so I should try this technique again at a higher angle.


Here's the rotated video of the pass, once at the original speed and once at the slow speed.

Telescope: Celestron NexStar 6SE + X-Cel LX 9mm eyepiece
Device: iPhone X (afocal)
Settings: 28mm - ISO 880 - 1/1500s - f/1.8
Filters: None
Date/Time: 2018-03-24 20:00:59 KST
Location: Naju, Korea

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