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Thumper
2003-Apr-11, 07:09 PM
I had just sent off a note this morning to some friends stating that tonight (wed 4/11) woud be a good night to view the ISS in our neck the midwestern US (read Ohio).

A friend wrote back asking if we would be viewing it with our scope and if she could come out and watch with us. I explained that because of the speed at which it transits the sky, a telescope (esp. my manually operated scope) would be useless. Besides, the ISS is a beautiful object naked eye or binoculars.

But this got me thinking: I've seen photographs of the shuttle, or the shuttle connected to Mir shot from the ground. In order to get these photos, do astronomers point the camera to a spot where the target will be and then shoot at the appropriate time. Or do they actually track the object? Are there telescopes with motor drives that can track that fast? And if so, could you computer control the scope with orbital tracking information from a particular point on the ground and have it track a satellite keeping the object in the crosshairs for photography or eyepiece viewing?

If the above is possible, is it possible for the dedicated amateur with say like a Meade LX-200 or would the exercise be reserved for extremely serious (read quite expensive) astronomy?

I was just curious.

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-11, 07:19 PM
Meade and Celestron GoTo scopes slew at 5-8 degrees /second - fast enough, but that is not the same as tracking. I'm sure that such a tracking program could be written, I sure couldn't do it! :wink:

aurorae
2003-Apr-11, 07:29 PM
There are people that have imaged the ISS. I saw an article on this in Sky & Telescope last year. By using a low light level video, they can get the best individual images and combine them.

A quick web search turned up
http://www.djcash.demon.co.uk/astro/webcam/spacecraft.htm
which is not the images I was thinking of, but is similar.

ToSeek
2003-Apr-11, 07:46 PM
Bunch of photos here: http://www.bullhammer.com/satphotos.htm

Some used hand-slewing, some used their drives, and a number used digital compositing after the fact to get better images.

RafaelAustin
2003-Apr-12, 08:22 AM
http://www.iss-tracking.de/images/stationpic.html

This site was posted by someone on BABB long ago (failing memory!). Really cool pics. I'm still lamenting the fact that the solar panels may not be completed, they would make the ISS the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon.

Rodina
2003-Apr-12, 03:45 PM
Those guys in Germany are really good, and there's a fellow in Washington State, too, that as made some similarly spectatular shots.

http://www.geocities.com/tegwilym2/astrophotos/index2.html

I've emailed a few times with this fellow and he's very friendly and helpful (although I have yet to try his advice) and he does both hand tracking and computer tracking.

One of shots even made NASA's homepage photograph for a few days.

N.B.: You have dig around his site a little bit to find the stuff - I think it's under the "Spacecraft" link.

Duane534
2003-Apr-14, 03:23 AM
If you create an Active Desktop item on a Windows PC and click Yes to view the Microsoft gallery, there is a tracker for a bunch of satellites and the ISS.

dmcco01
2003-Apr-14, 06:01 PM
So when you view an ISS flyover with your naked eye, what do you see? Does it have any definition as ISS, or is it just a bright spot moving across the sky? How about with binoculars?

ToSeek
2003-Apr-14, 06:05 PM
So when you view an ISS flyover with your naked eye, what do you see? Does it have any definition as ISS, or is it just a bright spot moving across the sky? How about with binoculars?

Naked eye: a bright spot. Sometimes a very bright spot, if the Sun catches it just right.

Glom
2003-Apr-14, 08:02 PM
A friend of mine photographed it with his digital camera at longest focal length (I don't know what it was) while Atlantis was docked during STS 110. He then blew up the image when he uploaded onto his computer. He showed me a printout. I had to take a weekend to interpret the fuzzy thing because all the zooming and enlarging had led to a distortion such that the line of modules (Zvezda-Zarya-Unity-Destiny) appeared curved into an arc so it was misleading, but eventually I managed to locate those four modules along with the P6 and solar arrays and Atlantis at the end. I don't thing the image was good enough to see the PMAs and the newly installed S0 was a faint blob on the paper.

The Shade
2003-Apr-15, 03:59 PM
I haven't seen it yet, but my family has. :cry: Anyways, is there a site that gives you the times and locations that the station would be visible overhead?

ToSeek
2003-Apr-15, 04:12 PM
I haven't seen it yet, but my family has. :cry: Anyways, is there a site that gives you the times and locations that the station would be visible overhead?

http://www.heavens-above.com/

RichField
2003-Apr-15, 06:27 PM
Before I found heavens-above I used JPass 2.0 (http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/RealTime/JPass/20/) from NASA to find out when passes would occur.

The one time I saw the ISS it started out as a reasonably visible naked eye star. Probably mag 2 or so. It stayed that way for most of its path, but for about 10 degrees near the zenith it brightened (mag -2) and had a very blue color. It dimmed again as it headed east until I lost it in the skyglow of downtown Boston. It must have caught the light just right as ToSeek said, but not know what to expect at the time, it was a really nice treat.

Rich