Incredible Image: Atlantis and ISS Transit the Sun

Article written: 21 May , 2010
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Here are some incredible images of Atlantis and the International Space Station captured as it transit the Sun.

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French astrophotographer Thierry Legault has done it again. He captured a view of space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station crossing the face of the Sun on May 16, 2010 about 50 minutes before the shuttle docked with the space station. Legault took the image from Madrid, Spain at 13:28:55 UT. “Atlantis has just begun the ‘R-bar pitch maneuver,'” Legault wrote on his website, “as the shuttle performs a backflip that exposes its heat-shield to the crew of the ISS that makes photographs of it; since its approach trajectory is between the ISS and the Earth, this means that we are seeing Atlantis essentially from above, with the payload bay door opened.”

Since this may be Atlantis’ last flight to space, the image is especially poignant.

See below for the full image, and make sure you go to Legault’s website and watch the movie of how quickly the pair of spacecraft actually flew across the face of the Sun — like the blink of an eye! It’s amazing he was able to capture this incredible image at all, not to mention how clear and sharp the two spacecraft are in the photo, against the face of the otherwise spotless Sun. The shuttle’s tail is even visible!

Legault said he used a Takahashi TOA-150 refractor (diameter 150mm, final focal 2500mm), Baader Herschel prism and Canon 5D Mark II camera, at an exposure of 1/8000s at 100 ISO, extracted from a series of 16 images (4 images/s) started 2 seconds before the predicted transit time.

Full image of the Sun, with transiting shuttle and ISS. Credit: Thierry Legault www.astrophoto.fr

Take time to browse through Legault’s impressive collection of spacecraft photography, including an amazing 3-D movie of the ISS.

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4 Responses

  1. TerryG says

    Bonjour Thierry,

    Merci de partager votre talent incroyable en tant que photographe en astronomie. Ils sont hors de ce monde.

    Si vous avez le temps, peut-être vous pouvez attraper le prochain X-37B de transit à partager avec nous?

    Merci beaucoup.

  2. HelloBozos says

    Great capture,Had to been one Fast Camera!! I tracked ISS/STS-132 Atlantis last night with Nexstar8SE manuly with the star finder on the side of it,used CanonT1i set dark an hooked to 25mm lens,This was was the best out 20-30 snaps i got :

    http://www.celestronimages.com/details.php?image_id=6528

  3. Spoodle58 says

    @ HelloBozos

    That is an awesome image all the same.

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