Science

It's OK To Stare At The Sun (When This Happens)

The space shuttle Discovery returned to Earth just a few hours ago after its final mission to space. Discovery has flown 39 missions since 1984 and spent 365 days orbiting the Earth. During that time, many amateur astronomers have scanned the skies to get a glimpse of the shuttle passing overhead.

Discovery, docked to the International Space Station, passes the face of the sun during its orbit around the earth on March 1, 2010. i i

hide captionDiscovery, docked to the International Space Station, passes the face of the sun during its orbit around the earth on March 1, 2010.

Alan Friedman
Discovery, docked to the International Space Station, passes the face of the sun during its orbit around the earth on March 1, 2010.

Discovery, docked to the International Space Station, passes the face of the sun during its orbit around the earth on March 1, 2010.

Alan Friedman

On March 1, while docked to the International Space Station, Discovery crossed the face of the sun for a select region of the world. Via Wired, we found amateur astronomer Alan Friedman, who raced to be in a precise location in the Florida Keys to capture a rare glimpse of the space station and Discovery silhouetted against the sun.

Friedman obtained optimal viewing locations from the website Heavens-Above, which tracks astronomical sighting opportunities for astronomers.

"If I was 500 feet more to the south, I would have missed it," explained Friedman.

Friedman had only 1/5 of a second to capture the ISS and Discovery crossing the face of the sun i i

hide captionFriedman had only 1/5 of a second to capture the ISS and Discovery crossing the face of the sun

Alan Friedman
Friedman had only 1/5 of a second to capture the ISS and Discovery crossing the face of the sun

Friedman had only 1/5 of a second to capture the ISS and Discovery crossing the face of the sun

Alan Friedman

Friedman captured the image just past 2:39 p.m. local time via video through a small telescope. He had just one-fifth of a second to capture the space station and Discovery silhouetted against the surface of the sun.

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