Spectacular New Images Capture the Space Station Cruise Across the Sun

ISS Transits Sun

June 24, 2020

Moving at eight kilometers (five miles) per second, the International Space Station (ISS) circles our planet every 90 minutes. In a 24-hour period, crew members on the ISS experience 16 sunrises and sunsets. Despite how often the station passes directly between Earth and the Sun, capturing an image of the ISS transiting our nearest star is rare.

On June 24, 2020, NASA photographer Joel Kowsky captured such an occurrence from Fredericksburg, Virginia. The image above is a composite, made from six frames, and shows the ISS in silhouette as it moved from right to left across the solar disk while orbiting 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth.

The image below shows the position of the ISS in its orbit as Kowsky snapped his photos at approximately 1:15 p.m. U.S. Eastern Daylight Time. The transit lasted approximately 0.54 seconds and was captured while his camera was shooting at 10 frames per second. Watch a video of the transit below.

Ten photographs assembled in sequence show the International Space Station, with a crew of five onboard, in silhouette as it transits the Sun at roughly five miles per second, Wednesday, June 24, 2020, from Fredericksburg, Va. Onboard are Expedition 63 NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky) Note: Sequence repeats three times.

Kowsky says many websites help identify when the ISS will be transiting the Sun, but weather and timing are usually the main issues for shooting clear photos. “With a very limited path of visibility along the ground, having clear weather at the identified location is one of the most limiting factors in being able to capture a transit,” said Kowsky, who had weather ruin a recent attempt. Proper safety equipment is also necessary when photographing the Sun, as looking directly at it can damage your eyes.

Map ISS Location

June 24, 2020

NASA has previously published images of the ISS crossing the Sun, including during the total solar eclipse in August 2017. Recent transit images (such as the one below) have also shown a lack of sunspots as the Sun enters a period of low solar activity known as the solar minimum.

ISS Passes Sun

The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun. That’s no sunspot. It’s the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Strangely, besides that fake spot, in this recent two-image composite, the Sun lacked any real sunspots. The featured picture combines two images — one capturing the space station transiting the Sun — and another taken consecutively capturing details of the Sun’s surface. Image Credit & Copyright: Rainee Colacurcio

Photograph by NASA/Joel Kowsky. Earth Observatory map by Joshua Stevens.

16 Comments on "Spectacular New Images Capture the Space Station Cruise Across the Sun"

  1. Does the sun appear smaller when looking at it in the earth sky from the surface of the planet than it does when looking outward from the earth through a telescope? I thought that the large size of the sun in the images was an optical illusion like the apparent large size of the rising full moon when it has risen fully, just above the horizon, and then ‘seeming’ smaller when it reaches the middle of the night sky. The moon still seems smaller directly above than it is on the horizon, even though I know that measuring it will show that it is the same size in both places. Is this the same type if illusion that one experiences with the images of the sun and the I.S.S.?

    • The extent of the illusion you mention depends on the relative sizes of two objects (like the rising moon and a tree, or the ISS and the sun), as well as their distances from an observer. The moon seems larger on the horizon because, when compared to a tree that’s located, say, one mile away from you, the apparent size of that tree comprises a very small fraction of the apparent size of the moon. Your brain automatically makes this comparison when the two objects are viewed in the same direction, making them seem “close together.”

      If you were to drive toward that tree, stopping a couple of yards away from it, the disk of the moon would appear small in comparison to it, because your distance from the tree is now one thousandth of what it originally was, causing the tree to occupy a much larger fraction of your visual field. However, although you are also one mile closer to the moon, your distance from it is practically the same as it was originally was because it’s about 240,000 miles away from you, making it’s apparent size seem unchanged.

      When the moon is overhead, you can’t make these comparisons with terrestrial objects because you typically can’t look straight up and see a tree that’s located a mile away from you.

      In the case of the ISS and the sun, the same logic holds, but neither of those objects is located on earth, so the horizon plays no role. And interestingly, the presence of a telescope has no bearing on the extent of the illusion. All that matters is the relative sizes of the two objects, and their corresponding distances from an observer. Without the aid of a telescope, each object would certainly have a smaller apparent size, but the ratio of their apparent sizes would be the same as when viewed through a telescope. (For an earthbound observer, the apparent size of the sun is roughly equal to the apparent size of the full moon, as we know from observing solar eclipses. Also, the length of the ISS is several times the height of a typical tree, but it orbits about 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.)

      Hope this helps.

  2. It looks like tie fighter

  3. I think the first photo was taken from earth and the second probably from a telescope in orbit. Just a guess

  4. CGI fakery at its worst…lmbo

  5. Neverastraightanswer | June 29, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    Found the globetard aka common sense some how you do not have a shred of this cause all you need is common sense to see the cgi fakery

  6. You really think the ISS is moving that fast? Have you ever seen the live NASA stream from the ISS? Sure doesn’t look like earth nor the ISS is moving much at all!! There is no way earth is rotating at 67,000 mi/hr and the ISS moving at a rate of 5 mi/sec (18,000 mi/hr) and only every once in a while we hear/see about these so called amazing shots captured during a pass… We should have way more pics/video/frames of this “amazing event” as to how often this supposed event happens every single day… I guess that good quality CGI artists are few and far between.. Hocus pocus, abra cadabra!! To think if you call bull** to something told to you because the way it’s explained by it’s “theory” (almost all science) just doesn’t calculate right or make any sense whatsoever, someone is judged as being stupid or a conspiracy theorist… I say that the person who doesn’t question it is the sheep… That person is gullible and that is what NASA/scientists love about all of you.. Just like landing on the moon not knowing anything about it or it’s atmosphere we definitely knew how to get there and how to dress our astronauts for it!! Think about everything you have been taught and dare to test/question it.. I bet you could find yourself discovering a lot about all the things you’ve been taught based on “theories” instead of FACTS!! The stupid people would be the ones who dismiss the so called “conspiracy theorists” instead of doing some of their own research on whatever the topic may be…

    • I guess calculate the arc angle the sun covers and then approximate the arc/s rate the ISS would traverse then figure ea reasonable frames per second. Give the ISS is so much closer and the sun is so much father, it seems like a reasonable set of images.

      What we really cant intuitive understand is the size of the sun distance to the sun and how relatively close the ISS to us.

      Swipe your finger tip at eyelash distance while looking at a Christmas lightbulb 50 feet away and that might start to approximate what is being seen.

    • I think you dont know s#!t can u explain why its not possible with any kind of knowledge or you just to dumb think its possible whats the benefits of the world all countrys lying about going in space how does russia china india benefit from lying instead of exposing usa fake nasa

      • LMAO it’s hilarious to see flat earther wage a war in the comments section. You’re right, now US have a bad relationship with china, russian, iran etc. So why this country doesn’t debunk all of US s#!t?

        It’s simple, because it’s a straight fact that no one could debunk.

  7. Wow… you idiots 🙄! Seriously, how do you live your life??? You really believe this is make believe… are you sure YOU exist?

  8. I feel that the comment that I made started something, so I will try to explain it after reading the replies. There is no conspiracy here, so anyone of you who are looking for one best look elsewhere.

    So if the sun’s disk were as large as in the pictures, when looking at it from Earth, it would be far too large for the moon to exactly cover in it a full eclipse. The sun and the moon appear to our eyes to be the exact same size. At a diameter of 1,392,700 km, there is no way that one could see the ISS from 93 Million miles away unless the sun were magnified as in the pictures, and the camera was located at a distance from the ISS that made it appear the size it is in the pictures. Also, did anyone ever say that the items in the pictures were at scale? Everything depends on how far the image of the sun is from the viewer, and how far the camera was from the sun, and the ISS. Phew-ew-ew! This just got far too complicated for this layman! No wonder why people get into into conspiracy theories!

    • The apparent size of the Sun’s disk in the above photo has no significance in an absolute sense; it only matters when compared to the apparent size of the ISS in the same image. You should be able to convince yourself of this fact by using your browser’s zoom function to reduce the size of the image. When you do that, the apparent size of the Sun in the image will be reduced, but the ratio of the apparent size of the Sun to that of the ISS in the image will be the same as it was at the original zoom level.

      Also, I’m not following why you say “…there is no way that one could see the ISS from 93 million miles away…” because 93 million miles is the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and not the distance from the Earth to the ISS. (The ISS orbits about 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.)

      You are correct that, when observed from Earth’s surface, the Sun and full Moon appear to be the same size (ignoring the extent of the Sun’s corona, which is considerable). This is noticeable when a total solar eclipse is viewed from the Earth’s surface, and it is also noticeable when comparing the apparent size of the ISS to the apparent size of the full Moon, when both are observed from the Earth’s surface, as shown in this article:
      Do you see how the ratio of the ISS’s size to the Moon’s size in the photos at that URL is the same as the ratio of the ISS’s size to the Sun’s size in the above photos?

      You are also correct that, in the above photos, the ISS and the Sun are NOT to scale. This fact is, of course, the whole point of this article and it’s related discussion.

      And finally, I agree with you that no conspiracy is at work here. This is just basic geometry that people have understood for 25 centuries, and that we all should have mastered in high school.

  9. Round Earth Society | July 2, 2020 at 9:14 am | Reply

    No wonder why aliens do not want to visit us.. It’s because of all of you tin foil hat wearing retards. Just like I hear from all the flat-earthians about “doing my research” which is roughly translated to “I really don’t know what I am talking about, so I’ll use that to cover my tracks.” You read a couple of Wikipedia articles and automatically assume you’re an expert. I tried to do my research on the flat earth society’s website and found the comics section instead:


    And to those who have obviously analyzed this photo and have concluded it is fake, what tools did you use to come to that conclusion? Common sense isn’t a factor in this. If you’re using “common sense” to determine this was fake then it makes me wonder how you survive day to day. Do you wear your pants backwards too? What about food? Do you shove it up your a** because it seems like crap must come out of your mouth constantly. Must come out your fingers too.

  10. To the Round Earth Society: Do you really feel that you are going to change them with your harangue? I come here because I am interested in science and the universe, not a diatribe by either the Flat, or Round Earth Societies. Those that refuse to see the value of science, and prefer myth to truth must be edified somehow by replies from others, attacking their positions, and perhaps in their minds, they feel that their position is somewhat stronger by being able to get the response of people who know better. But don’t you find the same thing with religious zealots; you know,the ones who say the earth is only 6000 yrs old,or whatever, and will fight tooth and nail against any proof that their myth is not reality? I find it impossible to change the minds of such people, and have pretty much given up trying. What do you feel your chances are, of changing the minds of these people for whom you feel such disgust? Is it really worthwhile trying? I saw their posts, but decided it was waste of time to get involved with perceptions of what makes the universe tick. However, I think the majority of people have some area where they hang on, or are tempted to hang on to, some unproven myth or superstition because someone they once trusted said it was true, so they still believe it! If it does no harm, let them have their fallacies; it won’t make a peck of coon s#!t difference when they pass away and find out, with the loss of their earthy dyslexia, that the universe is, indeed, managed by a DOG!

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.