Photographer in Parking Lot Captures ISS Passing In Front of the Moon

NASA photographer Lauren Harnett captured this photograph of the International Space Station passing in front of the moon. What’s amazing is that it didn’t require any fancy astronomy equipment — Harnett was shooting from a parking lot using a Nikon D3S, 600mm lens, 2x teleconverter, heavy duty tripod and sandbag, and a remote shutter release. She shot at 1/1600, f/8, and ISO 2500 in burst mode, and then combined the resulting photographs into this one image.

Space Station Crossing Face of Moon (Thanks Warren!)

Image credit: Photograph by Lauren Harnett/NASA

  • Matty

    bust mode? hehe I think you mean burst mode. :) 

  • Zak Henry

    Really shows the incredible speed they fly around the planet when the D3s had to be in burst mode, albeit at 5fps.

  • Bill Rhodes

    no fancy equipment,huh? d3S, 600mm lens? that’s about $10k at least right there

  • Spider- Man

    LMAO 600mm no special equip! epic

  • Tzctplus -

    Same thing I thought. Some people are way too posh around here…

  • mythbuster

    about the same quality is possible with a cheap 4/3 300 mm … Lumix 100-300 or Zuiko 75-300. Here, the most important piece of gear is tripod

  • BT

    600mm is not fancy astronomy equipment… 
    Okay, it’s not normal run-of-the-mill stuff but not a Celestron either.

  • Sam Sawyer

    It said no “fancy astronomy equipment.” It’s nice photography equipment. Not astronomy ;)

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks Matty :)

  • MattB

    Celestron w/ equatorial wedge and tracking can be had for less than that 600mm lens.  

  • Don

    New canon t3i bundle with 600mm lens incoming?

    You should rethink your articles guys…

  • Ian Ludwig

    Freud is smiling somewhere.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    Isn’t that the kind of equipment they do use on the ISS? So technically it could be considered as “fancy astronomy equipment” just like the Hasselblad 500EL was a fancy astronomy camera.

  • Allison S Lavine

    No special astronomy equipment… but more than $16,000 in lens and camera alone…  That is some sweet gear!!! 

  • Martin Ocando

    I think the 2X converter destroyed the image’s quality, contrast and showed up aberrations like the blue border on the lower right side of the moon. I would have shot without a TC, at a faster speed or lower ISO, and cropped it in PP. She would have got lots better quality. It looks bland if you ask me.

  • brandon

    while i think perhaps a wider f stop should have been used, and then the ISO settings should have been pulled back i think it’s a really cool photo. My main thought though is, how would one go about knowing when something like this is possible? I mean, I’d like to give it a try and see what my 5d with my 300 +1.4 tele could do.  also, this image would really be helped with some tweaking.

  • Ejperel

    I think the point is she tried and did it. How do you beat the result up if you yourself haven’t done it? Quit pixel peeping and acknowledge the effort it took to know the exact time the ISS would be in that location. And for a professional photog, a D3s and 600 is not special equipment

  • Erik

    I think the point is she tried and did it. How do you beat the result up if you yourself haven’t done it? Quit pixel peeping and acknowledge the effort it took to know the exact time the ISS would be in that location. And for a professional photog, a D3s and 600 is not special equipment

  • mythbuster

    continuous shooting mode of DS3 is from 1 fps to 11 fps. ISS goes around the earth (360 degrees) in 92 minutes and the apparent angle of moon is 0.5 degrees. So the time for ISS going through moon is (0.5/360)*92 minutes. This is equivalent to 7,7 seconds. So, in this case, the burst rate is only 1 fps.  No need for such an expensive equipment indeed…

  • Rob McMillin

    Opposite a telescope, which is even more expensive.

  • Algor

    You forgot that the moon is at 330000 km, and the ISS is at 400 km. ISS goes at 7.7 km/s, so it clears 1/2 degree in about 0.5 second.

  • brandon

     i’m surprised nobody mentioned my error. about 5mins after i made that post i thought, 1200mm  at f8? that sounds pretty fast actually, and here i just said how it might have benefited from being opened up.. whoops. I would have to take some test shots to see if the 600 at f8 with the 2x is better than the 600 at f8 cropped with that high iso, or the 600 at f4 with the iso reduced 2 stops cropped. perhaps she made the right choices. I would wager a person with that level gear knows what they are doing. Still, that image could be improved in a minute with DXO. If I knew how to post things here I’d grab that original and do it myself, but again that’s not really the story here. although, if the image she had gotten was ALOT worse it really wouldn’t be a story. 

  • Algor

    Your calculation would’ve been correct if the photographer were at the center of the Earth.

  • mythbuster

    Agree. Thanks, you are right.

  • Jaison

    10K hahaha

  • Ralph Hightower

    Great detail on ISS! I watch ISS when it flys over my location. Once, after the Space Shuttle departed from ISS, I was blown away from seeing the ISS and the Space Shuttle fly over me.

    The next joint mission, I preped my camera for the next flyover. Before the scheduled time, I went outside and photographed the ISS and Space Shuttle. My exposure time was 30 seconds. I braced myself against the van. There is camera shake.

  • Jason Manion

    Very nice. I was doing some star trail photography the other night, and I think I may have caught it twice? There’s something that looks pretty similar, that went across my photo twice in an hour. It went across in like 60-90 seconds both times, so it was moving pretty quickly. Check out the shot on Flickr and tell me if I’m right, or if you know what else it could be. It’s in the lower left-hand side:

  • Michele AnneLouise Cohen

    Headline reads: photographer in parking lot – no folks, it’s not your every day photographer with a $4k D35, a $10k 600mm lens – ordinary photographer’s in a “parking lot” don’t own this gear and consequently can’t get a shot like this…get real!

  • Santi Ago

    mhhh yeah but you could buy a REALLY NICE telescope and cmos astronomical camera for 10k! :P 

    Requiring no fancy equipment in my mind would be .. d3100 and 70-300 non VR LOL!!!!!