Sunday, 10 April 2016

International Space Station (ISS) followed by Dragon spacecraft (CRS-8)

The history in space exploration is being written everyday, two days ago another success was achieved. Most likely everyone meet the news here or there, SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon rocket onto a floating platform. 

We rarely see from London, if a cargo ship begins its hot pursuit to catch up with ISS. Well not this time ;)
I do image ISS from time to time, first I used a SW 200/1000 newtonian scope with a Canon 600D, then a SW Skymax 90/1250 maksutov and now a 127 maksutov teamed up with a Zwo ASI 120MC planetary camera. It is giving me a bit of a hard time as I struggle to find good settings with an ASI camera.

Setup is ready, wonderful sunset at the background
Anyway I went to a nearby open park to gain some more experience on how to capture ISS, every attempt gives me further reference points, what gain and shutter I should use. I knew Dragon might be visible, but probably only for the camera lens, not to my eyes.

So did my setup, waited for ISS to appear and began shooting my video. Below here is my best shot if the station, panels are reflecting a little amount of light, mainly the truss, the coolers, Columbus and Kibo labs, Zvezda, Zarya and Unity and Destiny parts are visible. 

International Space Station (ISS)

I kept my 600D clicking (with a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens on it) whilst I was busy with the ISS close up. I knew (from website) that Dragon will follow ISS within about a minute gap behind. But honestly I did not expect it to get as bright as it was.

ISS, Drgaon, Jupiter and Moon

So I stopped recording ISS, quicky set gain higher and started pointing my scope toward the Dragon spacecraft. I didn't know what to expect, I've never attempted to image such a small object travelling quite quickly. Here are the best two frames, One looks spherical (on the left) - similar to the front end of the cargo ship. But still pretty unsure what part of it is illuminated, sadly the solar panels remained hidden. I was hoping that at least those will be illuminated, which could make the identification a lot easier for sure. 

Dragon (CRS-8) cargo supply spacecraft

Courtesy of  SpaceX

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