Tracking the International Space Station, August 2019

Tracking the International Space Station, August 2019

August 1st, 2019, 10:04 p.m. local time

What a difference a day makes!

After last night’s attempt to photograph the International Space Station, I wanted to give NightCap another try, this time in a darker environment.  Having my bearings, it was much easier to choose a setup location, now in my backyard.

The ISS was going to appear NNW again tonight, so I had a good idea of where to point the iPhone on tripod.

The above photo is the result.  The ISS moved very slowly “up.”  I was surprised by the speed.  It eventually reached near Zenith, and was very bright.  Curiously, it abruptly disappeared as it started falling into the SE.  This evening’s event was logged at 2 minutes on NASA’s website, so I guess it made sense.

This shot was pointing Northward.  Notably, you can easily see Ursa Minor and Ursa Major.  I have outlined the dipper asterisms below. Also, I live near O’Hare International Airport, and two planes on a landing approach from the West were captured as well.

Taken with NightCap. ISS mode, 68.38 second exposure, 1/1s shutter speed.

This evening I also brought out my telescope, to look at and photograph Jupiter (hopefully more on that later).

One final note.  Recently, I converted a number of my house light switches to smart switches, which I can now control with my iPhone and Apple Watch.  This was the first night that I utilized the watch & smart switches working together.  Previously, I would have to frequently go back and forth into the house and across rooms to turn on or off lights, depending on the current situation.  Now, I can use the Apple Watch to adjust the house lights as I need them, instantly.

I also utilized the watch to control NightCap’s shutter.

It may not seem like a big deal, but it was a noticeable time saver. Walking back & forth to turn on and off lights is not a value-add activity to stargazing.  The less time I have to spend on it, the more I can spend with the equipment and the core activities of watching the sky and photographing it.



I write frequently about astrophotography, technology advice, and my other interests like science fiction. I have over 30 years of experience in computer programming, information technology, and project management.

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