ISS Saturn transit
We were pleasantly surprised when new International space station command Timothy Kopra took a photo of TinyMOS’s home country – the city state of Singapore. The photo was featured on local news Asia One, which caught our eye. Incredibly, just slightly over a week after the photo of Singapore was published, the ISS flew by Singapore in a transit path across Saturn.
Just look at all that light pollution… We hope someone on the ISS can image Singapore during Earth day when the lights are off. Hopefully we get a glimpse of where to get the best skies when most of the lights are switched off.
Imaging the ISS and Saturn
We had to return the favor of snapping a photo of our home country, by commemorating it with an International Space Station’s transit across Saturn. ISS flybys are pretty common. However a transit, such as that of the moon or the sun, is less common and a transit of a small object such as a planet is pretty rare. The coincidence that the transit was across the most beautiful planet Saturn, when viewed from terrestrial instruments, was exceptional.
At TinyMOS, we have attempted to image the ISS transits no less than five times by now. Being on a tropical island, all prior attempts were thwarted by the ever occurring clouds, which often forms dramatically seconds before the time of transit. We had 2 lunar, 2 solar and 1 Saturn ISS transit thwarted by clouds so far. As these occur pretty rarely, it means that we have never imaged the ISS with Commander Scott Kelly on board – something we sorely regret.
When we assembled the equipment required to capture the transit, the clouds were obstructing the view of Saturn and we only got rare glimpses at it. After calibrating the Vixen Polarie tracking mount, all we could do was wait and hope for the best. Thankfully the skies cleared a hole big enough for us to capture the image.
Here’s the composite of the transit, which happened at a fraction of a second. Capture time was approximately 6.24am GMT +8. Capture duration was just over 0.5 seconds as we were capturing at 14FPS.
Here’s the GIF taken from the sequence. In case you’re wondering why the image is in monochrome – there was a thin veil of cloud which introduced false color from the light pollution. There is next to no way to remove it so we thought monochrome was the next best thing.
Next week we will describe the process for capturing an ISS transit event!
*Apologies for the lack of updates. The team has been overseas in Israel and Japan for startup conferences by Microsoft Ventures and Pioneers IO respectively*