On the evening of September 25th, 2015, fellow Boilermaker Max Fagin and I set out again to the infamous central illinois cornfields to witness the marvel that is the International Space Station transiting (crossing in front of) the Moon.
The first time I attempted a lunar transit, I was only armed with camera lenses and my Flight Director, Max was in “mission control” … this time though Max and I were well equipped with not only cameras, but this time – two Orion telescopes – a 6 inch reflector and 14 inch Dobsonian.
As we pressed on and the sun drowned in the horizon, the sunset turned into another underglow stunner . This was taken just as the color was in its prime and the sun had set about 10 minutes prior.
Underglow sunsets are when there is a layer of clouds above, with a break in those clouds in the western sky, allowing the already set sun to shine on the underside of those clouds. These are usually the most beautiful sunsets because that light on the underside of the clouds is also shining through many, many miles of the Earth’s atmosphere, providing the beautiful red, pink, orange, and yellow colors to the sunsets.
The trip there was about an hour and a half and once we got there, we used Google Maps and our previously scouted location from CalSky (Cullom, IL). Transit time was scheduled for exactly 10:59:42 PM central time.
Setting up both telescopes takes about an hour, and so we arrived at about 9 PM, two hours early, to have plenty of time to get the scopes setup and focused, and all the camera settings straight.
We setup the Rebel for video on the 14” and used the 7D MkII’s 10 fps capture rate for photos on the 6”.
We recorded video on the Rebel with the following settings:
30 fps 1/3200 ISO 3200 WB Auto
and we shot successive photos at 10 frames per second on the 7 D MkII with the settings:
1/1200" ISO 800 WB Auto
Max announced the countdown and maintained the 6 inch pointed in the right direction while I maintained the 14 inch.
10 seconds to transit..
I was ecsatic. Our calculations were perfect. The framing of this photo/video is on the left side of the Moon looking up in the sky. The moon was two days before its full moon and phase details were as follows:
Phase: Waxing Gibbous
Moon Age: 11.73 days
Moon Distance: 367,182.58 km
Right at T zero the ISS began the planned transit as you can see in the video and followed nearly exactly the transit line we predicted.
And the photo from the 6″ reflector telescope camera running at 10 fps.