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Jupiter almost eclipsed by International Space Station 18 Feb 2014


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I went out to see the ISS pass over Loughborough on Tuesday night. Predicted magnitude -3.2, quite a bright one. I spotted it coming over from the west and looking at its direction, it was heading for Jupiter. Quickly armed with a Samsung Galaxy S3, I started clicking away, and also ran video.


Although I took many single frame photos, I have just uploaded one video to the following link.




The mp4 file shows the ISS passing Jupiter at @1834pm +/- 2 min. 18 Feb 2014. There was another fainter object trailing the ISS visible by naked eye, but only noticed when the ISS was heading down into the east. I was not sure whether it was an unrelated satellite or something that was docking with the ISS. I later found out the next day that a commercial cargo shop Cygnus had been set free from the ISS that day (possibly close to the time of the pass over Loughborough), which ended its 5-6 weeks stay with the ISS.


After looking at the video in viewers on a pc, I think the image may have auto rotated, which has caused some confusion on what is up/down.  In reality, the ISS passed from upper right (originating in the west) and going under Jupiter and to the lower left (heading east).  However, I think this video has been rotated +90 degrees making the ISS go from lower right to upper left, under Jupiter. But upon uploading to dropbox, this rotation seems to have changed back to how the original looked. ISS from upper right moving to lower left.


I tried to use Irfanview s/w to extract individual frames but could not do this.  I wanted to inspect the frames and compare shape of ISS relative to Jupiter. No doubt there may be hand shake, but both objects should have the same amount of blurring from hand shake (although the ISS may be rotating when Jupiter is not). However, I thought in a video run at 30 frames/sec, the individual frames might not be affected by hand movement.


I have some stills taken in rapid burst mode (about 8/sec) which show changes in colour of the ISS but much less so on Jupiter.  On the ISS, blues, purple and greens together with white could be seen at different times and on different positions of the recorded images. Also, the ISS did seem to produce some irregular shaped images relative to Jupiter. I wondered if this was a genuine effect due to the ISS solar panels (I don’t know how quickly the ISS rotates in fractions of a second, or even seconds – would it be enough to change the shape on a frame?).


See single frame image: 




On some single images, the shape was either a C, or L. I wondered if this was part of the ISS’s robot arm, which was used to disconnect Cygnus.  I’m not sure when the disconnection took place and whether the arm is permanently extended.  Members might be able to get information on exact time of jettison of Cygnus which could be used to help decide whether the arm would have been visible at this pass between about 1830-1834pm.


The video resolution might not be as good as single frame and therefore not enough to see any changes in shape of the ISS as it passes Jupiter. I won’t know this until frames are extracted and inspected. Feel free to have a go.


Please forgive my outburst during the excitement of the closeness of the pass. I could hardly believe how close the ISS and Jupiter got.  Also, there is an aeroplane in the vicinity, recorded on the video, but there was no mistake about the ISS.








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Sounds like an exciting naked eye event Derek but, sorry I can't see anything in the video - maybe my eyes haven't woken up yet lol.


But I'm amazed at the single frame shot - amazing what can be picked up with these mobile phone cameras just by hand held.


Nice report. :)

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Yes, impressive account; I can hear you swear on the video, but I can't see anything.


If that is the ISS in the single image, that is very impressive.


I still think sometime we should get Sheila's mount to track it and see if we can get fancy images of it.



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Nice spot, Derek. I remember seeing the Edoardo Amaldi ATV trailing the ISS on a pass a couple of years ago. Again, I didn't know about it in advance, spotted something trailing and had to look it up.



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Thanks fellas. It's the first time I have used dropbox to share a file. When I checked after upload, it seemed to buffer too long to wait, small circle going round in the centre.

Even on viewing from the desk top from the hard disk, using win media plyer, the first playback was choppy and didnt sync. It took at least 2 plays before it played smoothly. I could tell this by the jumping movement and separation distance between ISS and J.

I think playing it back from dropbox will nit be as good as from the hard disk. Suggest downloading the file locally to hard disk, then play - at least twice.

There's no scale marker so it's difficult to know where to look. The two objects are, I'd say, within less than 10% of the whole field of view - and roughly central. On the screen, the dots will be as small as a pin point. I don't know what "mag" the S3 does on video, but I think it may be about 2-4x that of whatever the field of view is of the unzoomed lens, when fully zoomed.

It sounds as though the file is ok since some have seen the tiny objects.

I'm really interested to see what the individual video frames will show at close contact. Irfanview wouldn't extract but indicated there were about 325 frames, ~9 seconds total. It also indicated it would require 1900 Mb space to extract all frames as bmp files. There was no issue with space and it still failed when a selected number of frames such as 1-10 was chosen. I couldn't find a way of changing the file format to anything other than bmp. But I think bmp would retain more original data than say a jpg. Im guessing it's better to maintain resolution first prior to processing. I think sharpcap or similar might be able to extract and perhaps some sets of frames might be ammenable to registax stacking (if the frame capture rate beats the movement).

The S3 was hand held. There were a lot of single frame shots taken. The one uploaded was one from a burst mode sequence of 6 images, 2 of which were elongated and others either round, irregular or oval (all within a fraction of a second. Exp times were 1/17 sec in the file property data so I think it was a genuine change if orientation ti produce the elongated image. I noticed there was fading (or less solid) in the central part of the object, which I assume would not occur in an object blurred by movement - everything would be smeared.

The frame extraction could be restricted to 2-4 seconds of run time, where closest approach takes place. But I'd want to see the lot in case there were good orientations before closest approach. I wondered if the rotation period could be seen over 9 seconds?

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Was trying the moon  last Thursday and found this




Not as exciting as yours Derek



Nice one Chris.  I took one of those over the Sun many years ago, grabbed by chance as I was observing the Sun by projection. There's some nice video sequences of the ISS over the Sun, where you can see the whole shape. There's some programs out there showing transit times of both Sun and moon, but if imaging with a web cam, you've got to know accurately which part of the limb to video.  A DSLR would probably capture the whole moon disk though.  Derek

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