Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day Photo Challenge - ISS and Fireworks

Fireworks and Moon
Awarded 2nd place by NASA lunar scientists and artists
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Tonight will be a rare (maybe unique?) photographic opportunity. For those in the mid-west of the United States, the International Space Station will fly over between 9:52pm and 9:58pm or so. What makes this rare or possibly unique is that it's Independence Day. That means fireworks.

I scouted out a spot where I will be for the fireworks tonight. I've been reading up on how to properly expose shots for fireworks and have been experimenting with photographing the ISS for years now.

ISS will look like a fast moving point of light. If you've seen satellites fly overhead, ISS will look just like that but brighter...sometimes a whole lot brighter. Since it moves at about 17,000 miles per hour, it will be fast and obvious.

Tonight, July 4th, 2010, ISS will become visible in Minnesota at 9:52:42pm CDT at 310 degrees (North West) at an altitude of 10 degrees. It will reach its peak height at 9:55:04pm CDT at 4 degrees (North) at an altitude of 22 degrees and move to its end at 9:57:27pm CDT at 58 degrees (East North East) and 10 degrees altitude. If you know your constellations, ISS will pass through looks like a "W" in the northern sky. Here is a nice applet from NASA to help you track ISS and other space flights.

Now that you know where and when ISS will pass, the big challenge will be to properly expose your shot. You'll only have about 5 minutes. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do other than a small aperture and long exposure, perhaps 1-2 minutes, with and ISO of 400-800 or so. I suspect the fireworks might be over exposed with such a long shot but I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen. Be sure to turn off your in camera long exposure noise reduction or your camera will spend half the pass doing calculations.

Give it a shot and post your best. I'm very curious to see how people handle this challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Mostly cloudy predicted for me here in Minnesota. I hope someone with a clear sky will be able to capture this great shot!


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