Astrophotographer Jamie Cooper has traveled the world looking for exceptional views of the stars. But he didn't have to travel far to capture something rare. From his backyard in Northamptonshire, England, he was able to photograph the International Space Station (ISS) transiting the Sun. Considering that the event lasted for less than a second, the image he produced is incredible.
The ISS moves at a speed of five miles per second, which means that it circles Earth every 90 minutes. In fact, it passes in front of the Sun 16 times during a 24-hour period. Though it's a frequent occurrence, actually seeing it is another matter. Cooper just happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture multiple frames that he composited into one image.
“There's a very narrow band where you, the space station and Sun are all in a straight line and it's about three miles wide,” shared Cooper. “I'd checked the data three days before and it was going to miss my house, I checked the day before and it was going to be over my house, so I was lucky.”
To capture the event, Cooper used a high-speed camera that shoots at 80 frames per second. He also used a special telescope with a filter that allowed him to photograph the event safely.
If you are interested in seeing when a transit might happen in your area, NASA has a helpful website that provides detailed information. But, it's important to note that just because a transit may occur, there's no guarantee that it will be visible. Weather is a critical factor in whether or not one can view this blink-and miss it event. And, if you do attempt to view an ISS transit, it's vital to take a cue from Cooper and use proper safety equipment to avoid damaging your eyes.