Yesterday afternoon, July 31st, 2015 I saw that there was going to be a bright pass of the International Space Station over me at around 10 PM and I began thinking how I was going to photograph it.
Recently, I have taken lots of #SpotTheStation photos over the lake, but this one got me thinking: I always take photos of Space Station flying over the lake. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking photos of it over the lake and it is a beautiful view because sometimes when the wind dies down, you can see the reflection streak off the water of it flying overhead – but I wanted to do something new.
So I thought to myself for a bit on where I could shoot it that was new, unique, and exciting while also including myself in the photo. I first thought oh, maybe I could go out again to the pole barn and shoot it, but maybe over the field next to the pole barn..or maybe from a different angle..
But that didn’t seem interesting or unique enough. Then I thought oh, what about out at the airport?
I could go to the East end of the field by the hangars and try and get the runway lights to shine through under the ISS flying over…
Then it came to me.
I thought, why don’t I pull out my grandpa’s little Cessna 150, position it just outside the hangar in the grass, have the runway lights shine through behind, and maybe stand next to it and watch the ISS flyover.
So just after being out at the pole barn and watching the Moon rise off the horizon, running home, and stitching that together:
That was it, that was what I was going to do.
I headed out to the airport to set up shop.
Now, pulling out the plane is easy when your grandpa is there to help each time we go flying as I work toward getting my instrument rating, but pulling it out of the hangar, and out through the grass was quite a workout.
I ended up having to move it out of the grass and back onto the pavement because you couldn’t really see the runway/taxiway lights very well.
So I moved it out on the pavement and set my camera down and began to frame up the shot.
I use the compass headings and star charts that heavens-above.com provides to frame up my shot. I saw that it was going to be flying alongside Virgo, up and just above Ursa Major, ~the big dipper~ and Ursa Minor, ~the little dipper~ and then between Caph and Shedir in the constellation Cassiopeia.
After a few test exposures, checking that it was level, that I had those stars in the frame, and that the plane and myself were going to be in it. It was 9:55 PM.
I thought it would look cool if I was sitting on the wing, so just before I began taking the exposures, I tried seeing if I could get up there using the strut of the wing and I could.
So just after pushing ‘Start’ on my intervalometer, I jumped up on the wing and right at 10:00:46 I saw it rise off the horizon and watched the ISS flyover me, waving a few times to Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren, who were probably sleeping at the time.
This is a stack of 16, 16 second exposures taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T5i and 8mm fisheye lens wide open at f/3.5 and ISO 100.
Heavens-above.com was spot on with the prediction, as always – and the ISS tracked right alongside Virgo, up and just above Ursa Major, ~the big dipper~ and Ursa Minor, ~the little dipper~ and then between Caph and Shedir in the constellation Cassiopeia before setting on the horizon and disappearing from view.