Photographer Nails Conspiracy Theorist’s Challenge to Capture the ISS

When a conspiracy theorist promised to concede that the International Space Station (ISS) is real if photographer and YouTuber Dave McKeegan could get a photo of it — the challenge was accepted.

McKeegan operates a popular photography YouTube channel where a person left a comment insisting that the ISS does not exist despite multiple documentations of it from Earth. “The only thing that’s been into space is your imagination,” writes the person whose screen name is Pokie.

Pokie challenged McKeegan to capture the ISS and while he wondered why he should bother at all, the unbeliever was unequivocal that he would admit he was wrong if the photographer could capture the ISS because he seems “trustworthy.”

Capturing the ISS to Disprove a Conspiracy Theorist

After accepting the challenge, McKeegan explained to Pokie that it “won’t be a quick process.”

“Seeing the ISS is pretty straightforward, there are numerous trackers available which show the path that its orbit will take,” he says.

“So when you see the path that is going to go near your location during the night you go outside and as long as the skies are clear you’ll see a bright dot going across the sky.

“Photographing it however takes a bit more planning because it passes by pretty quickly and you need a very long focal-length optic to have a hope of seeing any real detail of it.”

The ISS in orbit | NASA

Capturing the ISS on a long lens makes it difficult because photographers only have a narrow field of view to capture the spacecraft on their sensor and finding an exact piece of sky is not easy. However, the Moon makes a great reference point so McKeegan set about finding when the ISS would be traveling across the lunar surface so he could silence Pokie once and for all.

“This was my first ever attempt at capturing the ISS,” explains McKeegan. “I put my camera into electronic shutter mode rather than mechanical shutter because I didn’t want to risk any vibrations from the camera causing shake to the images.”

He also used a wire release removing the need to actually touch the camera itself and set his Sony a7R III to the fastest shooting speed it has (10 frames per second) to give him the best chance possible of getting a good photo.

He even set up a second camera recording the screen of the main camera so that no one can say his photos are fake.

Lo and behold the ISS appeared in front of the Moon exactly when it was expected to and McKeegan got a photo of it. He proved once and for all that the ISS is real — or did he?

Does the Conspiracy Theorist Now Accept the ISS is Real?

Pokie commented beneath McKeen’s video and congratulated him on photographing the spacecraft accepting that there was no “fakery.”

However, Pokie did still seem to question the authenticity of the ISS, bizarrely comparing it to a 747 airplane.

It’s not the first time this month photographers have had to deal with allegations from flat earthers. Backyard astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy addressed accusations that his images are “fake” following a photo he took of the ISS crossing the Moon.

“They also said the ISS was fake, so I made it my mission to photograph it. And I did! I got lucky that this early photo of the ISS wasn’t a misshapen blob like many of them are (shooting the ISS is hard).”

More of McKeegan’s video can be viewed on his YouTube page.