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Photographer Captures Four ISS Passes in One Night Sky Photo


Photographer Mark Humpage went outside his home in the UK this weekend and captured this amazing photo showing the International Space Station (ISS) streaking across the sky four separate times.

Quadruple passes of the ISS over the UK only happens a few times a year, and Humpage was fortunate to have clear skies during this latest occurrence. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have led to plane-free skies, giving Humpage an unusual opportunity to create this type of photo with only the ISS.

The photographer started out by using Heavens Above to look up the times and directions for the ISS passes over his location. Humpage then went outside his home in South Leicestershire the night of May 15th with his Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus 8mm fisheye, and tripod.

“All passes are pretty much west to east so I set my camera on a tripod pointing due south,” he writes. “Using a wide-angle lens, I set [the] camera in manual mode on a wide aperture (f/4) and long exposure time of 15s.

“I then left the camera on [the] tripod and captured continuous exposures from the first pass at 2250hrs on the evening of 15th until the final pass at 0340hrs in the morning. I threw a bit of light onto the field using a torch during the exposures (walking around switching a torch on/off) to achieve the ghostly figures.”

The next day, Humpage retrieved the camera and transferred all the photos to his computer. He used StarStaX to import each flyby exposure batch of roughly 15 photos and stack them to create the composite above.

“I cannot believe how well the symmetry works on the ISS passes as they cross over during the composite,” the photographer says.

Humpage also created a star trails version of the photo by taking all the ~1,200 15-second exposures and stacking them into one photo:

The full-stack composite includes meteors and satellite flares.

A 5-hour composite with meteors (the streaks), satellite flares (ringed), and the ISS passes (labeled with times).

You can find more of Humpage’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

A big thanks to Sam of Solarcan for sending in this tip!