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greenbaron Jul 8, 2018 8:14 AM

nikon p900 and ISS solar and lunar transits
Hi all, some photos from just over a year ago. I had acquired the Nikon p900 being in awe of it’s optical reach. It’s by no means a good camera but it definitely has some nice appliances.

At some point I came across this website which seemed be a ‘trustworthy’ calculator for solar and lunar transits by the International space station (link below). Having the reach at hand I put myself up with the challenge of recording a transit. A good transit happens as vertical up in the sky as possible. This will have the ISS at the shortest possible distance from the observer and therefore biggest in size in the photo. But.. the iss is a fast guy and close proximity also means a very short transit time. 0,58 seconds on the solar attempt.

I had never done anything like it before so I couldn’t know how precise the planning tool was. And the nikon p900 only has a max burst of 7 frames over 1 second so the margins were tight indeed. And what time piece to use for the timing of the burst? I checked the system time of my phone against internet pages showing the exact time and behold, it seemed in sync. Still it felt like a long shot (pun intended) but fun to try. So I drove to the centre location of the transit, set up and waited. With the phone in one hand counting the seconds towards the transit moment and my other hand ready on the shutter to press. Against all expectations two frames had the iss in it..

Several months later a promising lunar transit would happen nearby so I headed out again. Both to catch the transit and to find out if the shot could be repeated. Again two frames with the station in it, though only just recognisable with a shutter speed on the limit.

For the solar transit I used a Baader solar spotting filter to protect the camera.

Website for planning the transits:

the set-up. Between the tripod and videohead a leveller that came with a Nodal Ninja panorama set. Handy for precise adjustments on these focal lengths.

Success.. rotated / cropped to taste. Warm punch for atmosphere

1:1 crop of 2nd frame to show the actual size pixel for pixel. The station is 467km away.

Lunar transit. It’s to the right and in the middle of the frame. The other frame suffered from camera jitter. Since the camera has no raw capture it’s questionable if an iso boost for better shutter speed will improve things.

Walter C Jul 10, 2018 12:05 AM

Fascinating. Great job of capturing it.

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