Incredible Photos Show ISS Crossing The Face Of The Sun


Incredible Photos Show ISS Crossing The Face Of The Sun@cosmic_background/Instagram

A keen star gazer from California managed to capture an incredible photo of the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the face of the Sun using telescopes in his back garden. 

Andrew McCarthy, who goes by the handle ‘cosmic_background’ on Instagram, explores the universe ‘from a backyard in Sacramento.’


The photographer regularly shares images of the incredible sights he captures on camera, showing everything from the sun and moon to meteor showers and planets.

This week, McCarthy was able to snap the moment the ISS crossed the sun, with the space station appearing miniscule against the huge, orange background.

McCarthy said the scene was visible for less than a second, when the sun, the ISS and his back garden were all aligned. He managed to capture the unique shot by using two telescopes simultaneously, ‘one with a white light filter for ISS details and one with a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope for surface details.’


The photographer then blended the images together to form a ‘crisp, detailed snapshot of the transit.’ McCarthy’s pictures include a close-up version of the space station against the sun, plus footage of how the scene looked in real time.

In one image, he also inverted and enhanced contrast on the ISS’s silhouette in order to shine a spotlight on the orientation and details visible on the space station.

ISS against the Sun@cosmic_background/Instagram

McCarthy shared the images on Reddit and Instagram, where he quickly racked up thousands of likes and comments from impressed users. One joked that the space station looked more like Star Wars’ ‘imperial fighter’ craft, while another questioned whether the ‘sun’ in the photo was actually an orange, but mostly people commended McCarthy for his work.

One comment read:

What a great shot! Incredible speed and rare opportunity. Less than a second of transit is such a tough catch.

McCarthy has photographed the ISS in the past and described it as ‘the most incredible feat of engineering created by humans.’


The star gazer downloaded the ISS tracker app in order to get alerts about when the station would be passing his location, and explained:

Pretty much anyone can see it. No need to travel, it’ll come to you!

During the pass, the ISS shows up as a bright star steadily moving overhead. There’s nothing quite like it in the sky. If you have a dobsonian telescope like mine, you can position it just ahead of where the station is moving, and catch it in the eyepiece as it zips by.

Seeing the panels and radiators in real time is breathtaking.


Though the image of the space station passing the sun took some planning to get, McCarthy said that he intends to get a similar shot of the space station crossing the moon this week.

You can keep an eye out for his photos on his Instagram page.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: Life, Astronomy, California, International Space Station, Now, Space, sun, Telescope, universe


Andrew McCarthy/Instagram
  1. Andrew McCarthy/Instagram


Emily Brown
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