Self-proclaimed amateur astronomer Alan Strauss took this photo of the sun on New Year’s Day from a park in Tucson, Arizona. But, do you see that faint stitching that’s bisecting the sun’s middle? That’s the International Space Station.
Strauss, the director of the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, has a PhD in education but enjoys dabbling in the cosmos like his colleagues. Sometimes, he said, when he finds out the ISS will be passing overhead, he finds out where he can see it and takes his telescope to catch the show.
“Occasionally, I like to try to take a picture of it,” Strauss said.
But, that is not a particularly easy thing to do. The time it takes for the ISS to pass in front of the sun, Strauss said, “lasts about a second.”
The ISS itself is only about the size of a football field, according to NASA, so it’s hard enough to see from the Earth’s surface. Couple that with the fact that the station is moving at about 17,500 mph, and a photographer has to be incredibly precise to capture the image.
Strauss ended up taking a short video as the space station flew overhead and later stitched the frames together to make this cool image.
But, for him, the best part was being asked questions by random passersby about the telescope, and getting to show them the pictures afterward.
“There was definitely a sort of fun, guerrilla-outreach aspect to it,” he said. “That, to me, is part of the fun of it – getting kind of a sense of wonder going in people.”