Entries tagged as ISS

Clearest view of ISS yet from Nikon P1000

International Space Station seen on the evening of February 11, 2019

Animation of the ISS overpass
Previous tracking of the ISS with Nikon P1000 was alright, but I felt that it could have been better. Another good tracking opportunity came up yesterday, so I got my equipment ready and had another shot at it. Suffice to say, the results were quite satisfactory. Many of the shots came out quite clearly, you could see the division of each section easily. I did not need to resort to stacking - only the brightness and the sharpness were adjusted here.

The Space Station came closest to the observer on 18:48:49 (third photo) at a distance of 428km. Altitude from the ground was 411km at the time. You can see that the shots before that had the Zvezda module (lowest point in the second photo at 18:48:19) pointing at the observer, while the shorts after that had the Kibo-Harmony-Columbus modules (lower part of the middle section in the fifth photo at 18:49:49) doing that. Another thing to note is that I was looking at the general direction of the Sun, which had just had set below the horizon, before the space station made the closest approach. As the solar panels are always facing the Sun, I would be looking at the back of them in the first and the second photos, which is why they aren't illuminated and visible there.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 100 - 1/400 to 1/640s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-02-11 18:48-18:50 KST
Location: Naju, Korea
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Nikon P1000 catches the ISS transiting the Moon

ISS transits the Moon on January 22, 2019 (18% size)

Orbital prediction indicated that the ISS would be seen passing in front of the Full Moon at a place about 20km away from home. Thanks to the Moon being at an altitude of more than 60 degrees, the space station was to pass close to the observer with an angular size of nearly one degree (58.7"). It seemed be a good opportunity for using the 7-frame full resolution burst mode of the Nikon P1000 camera, so I drove to the observation spot despite the cold weather (-4°C) and inconvenient time (3 AM).

Crops of the ISS passing in front of the Moon

There was about one second of difference in the transit time prediction between different tools, and the burst mode could only take the seven photos in a span of a single second. So I took a guess as to when to press the shutter button and hoped for the best. Luckily, I did manage to catch three frames out of it, as you can see here. The results were sharp and large enough to make out the individual solar panels and modules, proving the capabilities of the P1000's telephoto optics.

Device: Nikon P1000
Settings: 3000mm - ISO 200 - 1/1600s - f/8
Filters: None
Time: 2019-01-22 03:08:23 KST
Location: Yeongam, Korea
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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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